Color composites of Landsat Multispectral Scanner ratio images that display variations in the intensity of ferric-iron absorption bands are highly effective for mapping limonitic altered rocks but are ineffective for mapping nonlimonitic altered rocks. Analysis of 0.45- to 2.5-µm field and laboratory spectra shows that iron-deficient opalized rocks in the Cuprite mining district, Nevada, have an intense OH-absorption band near 2.2 µm, owing to their content of clay minerals and alunite, and that this spectral feature is absent or weak in adjacent unaltered tuff and basalt. Altered rocks in the district can be discriminated from unaltered rocks with few ambiguities by use of color-ratio composite images derived from multispectral (0.46 to 2.36 µm) aircraft data. In addition, some effects of mineralogical zoning can be discriminated within the altered area. Only variations in amounts of limonite can be discerned in shorter wavelength aircraft data, Landsat Multispectral Scanner bands, and color aerial photographs.

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