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This work focuses on the analysis of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images collected over salt lakes occurring in the Sud Lipez region (southwestern Bolivia). Thanks to its extreme aridity, lack of vegetation cover, high latitude (>4,000 m) and wide variety of brine geochemistry, this region proves to be an ideal place to demonstrate the capabilities of ASTER visible, near, and short-waved infrared bands in mapping mineral occurrences. ASTER images obtained over two major salt lakes, namely Capina and Pastos Grandes, have been corrected and properly calibrated using field spectrometry. Their further processing using pixel purity indices reveals end-member spectra that closely match those of mineral species—such as gypsum, calcite, and ulexite—known to occur in this context. The classification of the multispectral scenes on the basis of these selected end members reveals that a detailed mineral mapping in such evaporitic environments can be achieved with high confidence and good spatial accuracy. When compared to the very schematic geologic maps recently made available from field work, the remote sensing data indicate a very good correlation while revealing instructive patterns of facies variations that can serve as a basis for further field exploration work. The potential of the Bolivian section of the Andes cordillera for borate deposits is high but still poorly explored. Borate concentrations often form discontinuous pods and lenses within sediments but can locally evolve into continuous decimetric strata. Though most of the time such deposits are covered by a burden of sedimentary and evaporitic materials, it is believed that multispectral remote sensing can be extremely useful in spotting limited outcrops of boron minerals.

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