New tools and algorithms for geological remote sensing are developed and verified at test sites throughout the world in preparation of the German hyperspectral satellite Mission (EnMAP), which is an Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program.

The Aggeneys Cu-Pb-Zn deposit, situated in the arid north western part of South Africa, represents a unique field laboratory for testing these new tools. Here spaceborne hyperspectral data covering the Swartberg, Big Syncline and Gamsberg area were collected by the Hyperion sensor. New synergies between multispectral and hyperspectral spaceborne data can be demonstrated, such as the Iron Feature Depth index (IFD), which has recently been proposed for mine waste mapping in the North West Province of South Africa and for gossan detection at Haib River in South Namibia.

The work presented here explores the potential of the IFD for gossan mapping and characterization at Gamsberg and Big Syncline, from EO-1 ALI and Landsat-8 OLI data together with mineral maps from expert systems such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Material Identification and Characterization Algorithm (MICA), and first results from EnMAPs EnGeoMAP algorithm. Field spectroscopic measurements and field sampling were carried out to validate and calibrate the results from the expert systems and the IFD. This ground truthing is a necessary complementary step to link the results from the expert systems and the IFD to in-situ field spectroscopy.

Future mineral exploration initiatives may benefit from the techniques described here, because they can significantly narrow the expensive, exploration activities such as hyperspectral airborne data, field activities and drilling, by identifying the most promising mineral anomalies in an area from the spaceborne data.

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