Passive Sensors

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Exploration Technique: Passive Sensors

Exploration Technique Information
Exploration Group: Remote Sensing Techniques
Exploration Sub Group: Passive Sensors
Parent Exploration Technique: Remote Sensing Techniques
Information Provided by Technique
Lithology: Mineral maps can be used to show the presence of hydrothermal minerals and mineral assemblages
Stratigraphic/Structural: Map structures/faults and regional strain rates
Hydrological: Map surface water features
Thermal: Map surface temperatures
Passive Sensors:
Sensors that measure energy which is naturally available in the environment.
Other definitions:Wikipedia Reegle

Passive remote sensors detect energy that occurs naturally in the environment, a vast majority of the energy is in the form of electromagnetic waves reflected off of the earth from the sun. Photographs taken from satellites, which are essentially measurements of reflected sunlight, are the most common source of electromagnetic waves measured by passive sensors.
Use in Geothermal Exploration
Many different passive sensors and methods are used for geothermal exploration ranging from Aerial Photography to Long-Wave Infrared. Passive sensors are useful for detailed mapping of geothermal areas. A few examples of maps that can be created via passive remote sensing methods are geologic maps, mineral maps, thermal maps, and surface water maps.

Physical Properties
Basic concept of passive remote sensing [1]

Best Practices
Many geothermal areas are in remote areas which are difficult to access so passive remote sensing methods can be extremely valuable for gathering initial information about an area at low cost and low impact to the environment.
Potential Pitfalls
Passive remote sensing techniques can be very useful, however in order to make direct temperature measurements, collect samples, and preform most geophysical methods in situ field work is required. Passive sensors also have the disadvantage of only being able to receive electromagnetic radiation during the daytime for the most part.

  1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Active and Passive Remote Sensing Diagram [Internet]. 2013. [cited 2013/10/01]. Available from:

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