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Hyperspectral surveying for mineral resources in Alaska

July 7, 2016

Alaska is a major producer of base and precious metals and has a high potential for additional undiscovered mineral resources. However, discovery is hindered by Alaska’s vast size, remoteness, and rugged terrain. New methods are needed to overcome these obstacles in order to fully evaluate Alaska’s geology and mineral resource potential. Hyperspectral surveying is one method that can be used to rapidly acquire data about the distributions of surficial materials, including different types of bedrock and ground cover. In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey began the Alaska Hyperspectral Project to assess the applicability of this method in Alaska. The primary study area is a remote part of the eastern Alaska Range where porphyry deposits are exposed. In collaboration with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey is collecting and analyzing hyperspectral data with the goals of enhancing geologic mapping and developing methods to identify and characterize mineral deposits elsewhere in Alaska.