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A review of geothermal mapping techniques using remotely sensed data

Aliyu Ja’afar Abubakar, Mazlan Hashim, Amin Beiranvand Pour, Kabiru Shehu


Exploiting geothermal (GT) resources requires first and foremost locating suitable areas for its development. Remote sensing offers a synoptic capability of covering large areas in real time and can cost effectively explore prospective geothermal sites not easily detectable using conventional survey methods, thus can aid in the prefeasibility stages of geothermal exploration. In this paper, we evaluate the techniques and approaches used in literature for the detection of prospective geothermal sites. Observations have indicated that, while thermal temperature anomalies detection have been applicable in areas of magmatic episodes and volcanic activity, poor resolution especially from space borne data is still a challenge. Consequently, thermal anomalies have been detected with some degree of success using airborne data, however, this is mostly in locations of known surface manifestations such as hot springs and fumaroles. The indirect identification of indicator minerals related to geothermal systems have been applied using multispectral and hyperspectral data in many studies. However, the effectiveness of the techniques relies on the sophistication and innovative digital image processing methods employed to sieve out relevant spectral information. The use of algorithms to estimate land surface temperature and heat fluxes are also applied to aid thermal anomaly detection, nevertheless, remote sensing techniques are still complementary to geologic, geophysical and geochemical survey methods. While not the first of its kind, this review is aimed at identifying new developments, with a focus on the trends and limitations intrinsic to the techniques and a look at current gaps and prospects for the future.

Keywords: Geothermal, remote sensing, thermal anomalies, indicator minerals, multispectral, hyperspectral

AJOL African Journals Online