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Exploration Technique: FLIR

Exploration Technique Information
Exploration Group: Remote Sensing Techniques
Exploration Sub Group: Passive Sensors
Parent Exploration Technique: Passive Sensors
Information Provided by Technique
Thermal: Map surface temperatures
Cost Information
Low-End Estimate (USD): 241.3524,135 centUSD
0.241 kUSD
2.4135e-4 MUSD
2.4135e-7 TUSD
/ mile
Median Estimate (USD): 643.6064,360 centUSD
0.644 kUSD
6.436e-4 MUSD
6.436e-7 TUSD
/ mile
High-End Estimate (USD): 1,609.00160,900 centUSD
1.609 kUSD
0.00161 MUSD
1.609e-6 TUSD
/ mile
Time Required
Low-End Estimate: 0.25 days6.844627e-4 years
6 hours
0.0357 weeks
0.00821 months
/ sq. mile
Median Estimate: 1.03 days0.00282 years
24.72 hours
0.147 weeks
0.0338 months
/ sq. mile
High-End Estimate: 3.89 days0.0107 years
93.36 hours
0.556 weeks
0.128 months
/ sq. mile
Additional Info
Cost/Time Dependency: Location, Size, Resolution, Terrain, Weather
Forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras, typically used on military and civilian aircraft, use an imaging technology that senses infrared radiation at wavelengths between 3-12 micrometers.
Other definitions:Wikipedia Reegle

FLIR can be used to look for temperature anomalies on the earth’s surface that may be associated with geothermal areas. FLIR cameras are designed to sense infrared radiation in the medium (3-5 micrometer) and long (8-12 micrometer) wavelengths.[1]
Use in Geothermal Exploration
Data is typically collected only from one or two bands and is used to look for relatively warm or hot materials (e.g., hot springs, pools, hot rock/lava and snow melt).

Data Access and Acquisition
FLIR data can be acquired via a FLIR camera attached to a satellite or aircraft.

FLIR image (left) compared to optical image (right) of Pilgrim Hot Springs Alaska. Hot springs and relatively warm surface temperatures can be easily seen in the FLIR image.[2]

Best Practices
In general night time scans are better when searching for thermal anomalies because solar irradiation overwhelms during daytime scans. Daytime scans are useful however, for applying corrections that are needed due to topographic, albedo, and thermal inertia effects.[3]
Potential Pitfalls
Topography can have a significant effect on thermal images; slopes facing the sun receive more thermal energy than slopes facing away from the sun. This effect is stronger during the daytime but carries on into the nighttime, affecting thermal images. Albedo effects influence thermal data as well. Light colored surfaces remain cooler compared to dark colored surfaces. This effect also carries on into the nighttime affecting thermal images. Thermal inertia also affects images. Thermal inertia is the rate at which certain materials heat or cool and is significantly affected by porosity.[3] All of these effects can be estimated and corrected for, but make data processing more difficult.

  1. Chris Douglass. IR Spectral Bands and Performance [Internet]. 2013. [cited 2013/10/01]. Available from:
  2. Alaska Energy Wiki. Pilgrim Hot Springs Project - PHASE 1 [Internet]. 2012. [cited 2013/09/30]. Available from:
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mariana Eneva (California Energy Commission). 2010. Geothermal Exploration in Eastern California Using Aster Thermal Infrared Data. N/A: California Energy Commission. Report No.: CEC‐500‐2012‐005.

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