The application of day and night time ASTER satellite imagery for geothermal and mineral mapping in East Africa

R.D. Hewson*, Elisante Mshiu, C. Hecker, H.M.A. Van Der Werff, F.J.A. Van Ruitenbeek, D. Alkema, F.D. Van Der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
260 Downloads (Pure)


There is considerable interest in optimizing geothermal exploration techniques via the mapping of alteration and evaporate mineralisation, as well as of thermal emissions associated with geothermally active areas on the Earth’s surface. Optical and thermal satellite sensor technologies, improvements in processing algorithms and the means for large scale (e.g. 1:250,000) spatial data distribution are required for detecting both these attributes. The extensive visible, -near, -shortwave and thermal infrared (VNIR-SWIR-TIR) data archive acquired by the multi-spectral Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission Reflectance Radiometer (ASTER) provides a rich source of geoscience related imagery for geothermal exploration. Examples of generating large scale mosaicked ASTER imagery to provide province to continental mineral mapping have been undertaken in areas including such as Australia, western USA, Namibia and Zagros Mountains Iran. In addition, ASTER’s thermal infrared imagery also provides night time land surface temperature (LST) estimates relevant for detecting possible geothermal related anomalies.

This study outlines existing methods for the application of ASTER data for geothermal exploration in East Africa. The study area encompasses a section of the East African Rift System across the Tanzanian and Kenyan border. The area includes rugged volcanic terrain which has had geological mapping of limited coverage at detailed scales, from various heritages and mapping agencies. This study summarizes the technology, the processing methodology and initial results in applying ASTER imagery for such compositional and thermal anomaly mapping related to geothermal activity. Fields observations have been used from the geothermal springs of Lake Natron, Tanzania, and compared with ASTER derived spectral composition and land surface temperature results. Published geothermal fields within the Kenyan portion of the study area have also been incorporated into this study.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101991
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Issue numberMarch
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020




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