Geothermal Exploration In Akutan, Alaska, Using Multitemporal Thermal Infrared Images

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Conference Proceedings: Geothermal Exploration In Akutan, Alaska, Using Multitemporal Thermal Infrared Images

The Akutan geothermal system, which is a part of Alaska's Aleutian volcanic arc, has several known thermal springs and a known fumarole field. It is reported to be one of the few high-grade geothermal resources in Alaska with a potential for further development as a geothermal energy resource. However, there is paucity of data and limited understanding and characterization of this system for optimal resource development. We used cloud-free summer-time thermal infrared (TIR) images from the rich and free archive of Landsat data to detect and map the surface expressions, such as temperature anomalies, hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles, associated with the geothermal system. We first processed individual TIR images to estimate land surface temperature and detect surface temperature anomalies. We then used image stacking, a technique adapted from the field of digital photography, to further highlight persistent surface temperature anomalies and subdue background transient temperature anomalies associated with local scene specific conditions. The image stacking approach highlighted new thermal anomaly areas, sometimes not visible on a single image scene. It also helped to increase the confidence level in land surface thermal anomaly detection. The image stacking itself could not resolve the issue of removing thermal anomalies associated with differential heating of locally high topographic areas. The image stacking result was therefore further classified by elevation, slope, vegetation type and geology and re-analyzed. This processing helped to highlight not only the locations of the known existing fumarole field and thermal springs, but also revealed three new distinct regions of surface thermal anomalies that are amenable to further ground-based investigations and exploration. Our team is currently in the field taking temperature measurements and collecting ancillary data at the identified locations and we anticipate learning soon if the satellite based observations corroborate well with field observations or not. The proposed TIR image processing strategy holds great promise in the field of geothermal exploration and other high temperature event mapping as future satellites will provide TIR data at higher spatial, spectral and temporal resolution.

C. Kienholz, A. Prakash and A. Kolker

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C. Kienholz,A. Prakash,A. Kolker. 2009. Geothermal Exploration In Akutan, Alaska, Using Multitemporal Thermal Infrared Images. Proceedings of (!) ; (!) : .

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  1. Akutan Fumaroles Area
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