Certain structural geologic features may be more readily recognized on sidelooking airborne radar (SLAR) images than on conventional aerial photographs, other remote sensor imagery, or by ground observations. SLAR systems look obliquely to one or both sides and their images resemble aerial photographs taken at low sun angle with the sun directly behind the camera. They differ from air photos in geometry, resolution, and information content. Radar operates at much lower frequencies than the human eye, camera, or infrared sensors, and thus “sees” differently. The lower frequency enables it to penetrate most clouds and some precipitation, haze, dust, and some vegetation. Radar provides its own illumination, which can be closely controlled in intensity and frequency. It is narrow band, or essentially monochromatic.
Low relief and subdued features are accentuated when viewed from the proper direction. Runs over the same area in significantly different directions (more than 45° from each other), show that images taken in one direction may emphasize features that are not emphasized on those taken in the other direction; optimum direction is determined by those features which need to be emphasized for study purposes.
Lineaments interpreted as faults stand out on radar imagery of central and western Nevada; folded sedimentary rocks cut by faults can be clearly seen on radar imagery of northern Alabama. In these areas, certain structural and stratigraphic features are more pronounced on radar images than on conventional photographs; thus radar imagery materially aids structural interpretation.