Recent significant improvements in the wavelength coverage, spectral resolution
and quality of remote sensing imagery have led to the extensive application of these
data sets in exploration and site characterization. Traditional techniques in spectral
and spatial analysis of imagery, coupled with new, high signal to noise data, allow
their direct application to problems in geothermal energy exploration and development.
Our work seeks to define surface indicators of geothermal resources at known
source regions and to apply these tools to recognizing geothermal potential in other
areas. Geothermal indicators include sinter, tufa (carbonate), hydrothermal alteration
(clays, sulfates) and thermal anomalies. Our work responds to the need to identify
new resources and to map the geology of these areas. In addition, we hope to bring
down costs by helping to focus new development in existing resource areas. Our work
demonstrates that airborne and spaceborne imagery can be used to map mineralogy
and hot spots over broad and inaccessible regions. We have clearly associated indicator
mineralogy with present and past geothermal activity. Remote sensing data have
been able to identify fault extensions not previously mapped by field geologists.
Future work will test these methods on new sites not yet producing power to confirm
their predictive capabilities for new resources.