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Mapping contact metamorphic aureoles in Extremadura, Spain, using Landsat thematic mapper images

August 1, 1987

In the Extremadura region of western Spain, Ag, Pb, Zn, and Sn deposits occur in the pieces of late Hercynian granitic plutons and near the pluton contacts in late Proterozoic slate and metagraywacke that have been regionally metamorphosed to the green schist facies. The plutons generally are well exposed and have distinctive geomorphological expression and vegetation; poor exposures of the metasedimentary host rocks and extensive cultivation, however, make delineation of the contact aureoles difficult.

Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images have been used to distinguish soil developed on the contact metamorphic rocks from soil formed on the stratigraphically equivalent slate-metagraywacke sequence. The mineral constituents of these soils are similar, except that muscovite is more common in the contact metamorphic soil; carbonaceous material is common in both soils. Contact metamorphic soil have lower reflectance, especially in the 1.6-micrometers wavelength region (TM 5), and weaker Al-OH, Mg-OH, and Fe3+ absorption features than do spectra of the slate-metagraywacke soil. The low-reflectance and subdued absorption features exhibited by the contact metamorphic soil spectra are attributed to the high absorption coefficient f the carbonaceous material caused by heating during emplacement of the granitic plutons.

These spectral differences are evident in a TM 4/3, 4/5, 3/1 color-composite image. Initially, this image was used to outline the contact aureoles, but digital classification of the TM data was necessary for generating internally consistent maps of the distribution of the exposed contact metamorphic soil. In an August 1984, TM scene of the Caceras area, the plowed, vegetation-free fields were identified by their low TM 4/3 values. Then, ranges of TM 4/5 and 3/1 values were determine for selected plower fields within and outside the contact aureoles; TM 5 produced results similar to TM 4/5. Field evaluation, supported by X-ray diffraction and petrographic studies, confirmed the presence of more extensive aureoles than shown in published geologic maps; few misclassified areas were noted. Additional plowed fields consisting of exposed contact metamorphic soil were mapped digitally in an August 1985 TM scene.

Subsequently, this approach was used to map two 1-km-wide linear zones of contact metamorphosed rock and oil in the San Nicolas-Sn-W Mine area, which is located approximated 125 km southeast of the Caceras study area. Exposures of granite in the San Nicolas area are limited to a few unaltered granitic dikes in the mine and a small exposure of unaltered pegmatite-bearing granite in a quarry about 1.5 km west of the mine. The present of coarsely crystalline biotite and beryl in the granite in the quarry and of contact metamorphosed slate up to 2.5 km from the nearest granite exposure suggest that only the apical part of a pluton is exposed in the quarry and that a larger, shallowly buried body is probably present.

These results indicate that potential application of TM image analysis to mineral exploration in lithologically similar areas that are cultivated in spite of poor rock exposures.

Publication Year 1987
Title Mapping contact metamorphic aureoles in Extremadura, Spain, using Landsat thematic mapper images
Authors L. C. Rowan, C. Anton-Pacheco, D. W. Brickey, M.J. Kingston, A. Payas
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Pecora XI Symposium
Index ID 70113228
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse