HYPERSPECTRAL IMAGING FOR OIL AND MINERAL EXPLORATION
Hyperspectral imaging provides powerful and advanced solutions for the mining and oil industries, enabling more efficient mineral exploration and higher automated mining and production processes with reduced waste streams and energy consumption.
Hyperspectral imaging has been used for mineral exploration from the air over large rock surface areas for two decades. Now it is increasingly applied as a rapid method for reliable mineral analysis in drill cores and other geological samples. Hyperspectral imaging in the infrared region reveals alteration patterns that can’t be seen in traditional logging by the human eye. Nearly all alteration minerals can be objectively and consistently identified and mapped in the infrared region. Specim SisuROCK workstation has become a market-leading tool for analytical service providers, national geological surveys, and mining companies to rapidly image entire core trays and process large volumes of the core.
Mining & processing
Hyperspectral imaging can map clays, talc, and other deleterious rock phases and produce valuable information for building predictive models of mining and geometallurgical parameters. For this purpose, and in addition to core logging, hyperspectral camera systems can be taken to the mining sites and installed on processing lines. The hyperspectral camera can produce data for rapid mineralogical mapping of the entire mine wall faces, whether onboard a ground vehicle or a drone.
Iron oxide minerals and rare earth elements
The objective of mineral exploration is to find economically viable ore deposits. Short-wave infrared (SWIR; 1300-2500 nm) wavelength region data are commonly used for this end, but the VNIR wavelength region also offers two crucial geological applications:
- The detection of iron oxide minerals
- The detection of rare earth elements
Iron oxide minerals are essential for mineral exploration because they are often the only visible clues to the underlying mineral deposits. Iron oxide minerals have characteristic spectral features in the 800-1000 nm wavelength region, which can be used to identify them by remote sensing.
Iron oxide concentrations are associated with specific rock types (the “host rocks”), which are sometimes linked to potential ore deposits. Recent research has shown that hyperspectral imaging can be applied to classify iron oxide concentrations based on their host rock substrates, increasing the potential to detect rock outcrops that are most likely to be associated with ore deposits.
Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of metallic elements that are indispensable for the manufacturing of high-technology products such as consumer electronics. These elements occur in certain minerals, and many can be identified due to their key spectral features located in the VNIR wavelength region. Remote sensing provides a potentially cost-saving tool for the exploration of economic concentrations of REE-bearing minerals.