Lithological and hydrothermal alteration mapping of epithermal, porphyry and tourmaline breccia districts in the Argentine Andes using ASTER imagery
Testa, FJ and Villanueva, C and Cooke, DR and Zhang, L, Lithological and hydrothermal alteration mapping of epithermal, porphyry and tourmaline breccia districts in the Argentine Andes using ASTER imagery, Remote Sensing, 10, (2) Article 203. ISSN 2072-4292 (2018) [Refereed Article]
The area of interest is located on the eastern flank of the Andean Cordillera, San Juan province, Argentina. The 3600 km2 area is characterized by Siluro-Devonian to Neogene sedimentary and igneous rocks and unconsolidated Quaternary sediments. Epithermal, porphyry-related, and magmatic-hydrothermal breccia-hosted ore deposits, common in this part of the Frontal Cordillera, are associated with various types of hydrothermal alteration assemblages. Kaolinite – alunite-rich argillic, quartz – illite-rich phyllic, epidote – chlorite – calcite-rich propylitic and silicic are the most common hydrothermal alteration assemblages in the study area. VNIR, SWIR and TIR ASTER data were used to characterize geological features on a portion of the Frontal Cordillera. Red-green-blue band combinations, band ratios, logical operations, mineral indices and principal component analysis were applied to successfully identify rock types and hydrothermal alteration zones in the study area. These techniques were used to enhance geological features to contrast different lithologies and zones with high concentrations of argillic, phyllic, propylitic alteration mineral assemblages and silicic altered rocks. Alteration minerals detected with portable short-wave infrared spectrometry in hand specimens confirmed the capability of ASTER to identify hydrothermal alteration assemblages. The results from field control areas confirmed the presence of those minerals in the areas classified by ASTER processing techniques and allowed mapping the same mineralogy where pixels had similar information. The current study proved ASTER processing techniques to be valuable mapping tools for geological reconnaissance of a large area of the Argentinean Frontal Cordillera, providing preliminary lithologic and hydrothermal alteration maps that are accurate as well as cost and time effective.