Remote Detection of Geothermal Alteration Using Airborne Light Detection and Ranging Return Intensity

Yan Restu Freski*, Christoph Hecker, Mark van der Meijde, Agung Setianto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Downloads (Pure)


The remote detection of hydrothermally altered grounds in geothermal exploration demands datasets capable of reliably detecting key outcrops with fine spatial resolution. While optical thermal or radar-based datasets have resolution limitations, airborne LiDAR offers point-based detection through its LiDAR return intensity (LRI) values, serving as a proxy for surface reflectivity. Despite this potential, few studies have explored LRI value variations in the context of hydrothermal alteration and their utility in distinguishing altered from unaltered rocks. Although the link between alteration degree and LRI values has been established under laboratory conditions, this relationship has yet to be demonstrated in airborne data. This study investigates the applicability of laboratory results to airborne LRI data for alteration detection. Utilising LRI data
from an airborne LiDAR point cloud (wavelength 1064 nm, density 12 points per square metre) acquired over a prospective geothermal area in Bajawa, Indonesia, where rock sampling for a related laboratory study took place, we compare the airborne LRI values within each ground sampling area of a 3 m radius (due to hand-held GPS uncertainty) with laboratory LRI values of corresponding rock samples. Our findings reveal distinguishable differences between strongly altered and unaltered samples, with LRI discrepancies of approximately ~28 for airborne data and ~12 for laboratory data. Furthermore, the relative trends of airborne and laboratory-based LRI data concerning alteration degree exhibit striking similarity. These consistent results for alteration degree in laboratory and airborne data mark a significant step towards LRI-based alteration mapping from airborne platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1646
Number of pages14
JournalRemote sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2024


  • hydrothermal alteration; geothermal surface manifestations; LiDAR return intensity


Dive into the research topics of 'Remote Detection of Geothermal Alteration Using Airborne Light Detection and Ranging Return Intensity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this