The main objectives of computer processing of Landsat data for geologic applications are to improve display of image data to the analyst or to facilitate evaluation of the multispectral characteristics of the data. Interpretations of the data are made from enhanced and classified data by an analyst trained in geology. Image enhancements involve adjustments of brightness values for individual picture elements. Image classification involves determination of the brightness values of picture elements for a particular cover type. Histograms are used to display the range and frequency of occurrence of brightness values.
Landsat-1 and -2 data are preprocessed at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to adjust for the detector response of the multispectral scanner (MSS). Adjustments are applied to minimize the effects of striping, adjust for bad-data lines and line segments and lost individual pixel data. Because illumination conditions and landscape characteristics vary considerably and detector response changes with time, the radiometric adjustments applied at GSFC are seldom perfect and some detector striping remain in Landsat data. Rotation of the Earth under the satellite and movements of the satellite platform introduce geometric distortions in the data that must also be compensated for if image data are to be correctly displayed to the data analyst. Adjustments to Landsat data are made to compensate for variable solar illumination and for atmospheric effects. GeoMetric registration of Landsat data involves determination of the spatial location of a pixel in. the output image and the determination of a new value for the pixel.
The general objective of image enhancement is to optimize display of the data to the analyst. Contrast enhancements are employed to expand the range of brightness values in Landsat data so that the data can be efficiently recorded in a manner desired by the analyst. Spatial frequency enhancements are designed to enhance boundaries between features which have subtle differences in brightness values. Ratioing tends to reduce the effects due to topography and it tends to emphasize changes in brightness values between two Landsat bands. Simulated natural color is produced for geologists so that the colors of materials on images appear similar to colors of actual materials in the field.
Image classification of Landsat data involves both machine assisted delineation of multispectral patterns in four-dimensional spectral space and identification of machine delineated multispectral patterns that represent particular cover conditions. The geological information derived from an analysis of a multispectral classification is usually related to lithology.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Principles of computer processing of Landsat data for geologic applications
U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center