LWIR (Longwave Infrared) Analysis can delineate minerals like quartz, sulfides, feldspars, calcite, and garnet.
(Figure: LWIR can directly image ore minerals, unlike previous remote sensing systems that focused on alteration assemblages such as clays)
This imaging can be used for established mining areas as well as frontier locations. Over 3 million scenes of LWIR satellite date are available globally. Each one of these scenes covers 60 x 60 kilometers at 90 meter pixel size.
LWIR shows spectra patterns that are easier to recognize for minerals such as quartz, potassium feldspar, pyrite and biotite. These spectra patterns are much clearer than near infrared or shortwave infrared bands traditionally used in remote sensing.
The imaging can also be used to find chalcopyrite fingerprints.
Filters will determine mineral targets, where warmer colors (red) show areas where the measured LWIR signature is most similar to
the modeled chalcopyrite spectra.
It’s efficient in cost and timing, cutting down survey time from months down to days and giving the users a magnitude of cost savings. The satellite imaging could also replace the need for geophysical/geochemical surveys, giving you the same results.
It also has the ability to survey thousands of square kilometers remotely.
Spectral comparisons and filtering can be used for most major minerals and ore minerals for copper, zinc, lithium, graphite,
cobalt, as well as oil and natural gas.
(Figure: LWIR mineral surveys can be completed in days or weeks as compared to months for other exploration techniques; costs less than 5% of traditional methods)
*costs for 200 km squared area, 100-meter sample/line spacing, and 90-meter resolution for LWIR surveys.
LWIR imaging opens up new exploration opportunities in unexplored terrains. Nearly half of world’s land area is desert/arid or jungle/temperate forest; LWIR works in sand or vegetation cover, where traditional surveys may not.
This industry has classically under-utilized LWIR, geologists focusing on shortwave rather than longwave data. LWIR adds the challenge of mathematical corrections not required with SWIR data. SWIR data offers 60-meter pixels compared to 90-meter pixels for LWIR. Many professionals opted for higher resolution, without considering other factors. LWIR technology is also historically more difficult to procure due to potential military applications.