Chromite deposits in Iran are located in the ophiolite complexes, which have mostly podiform types and irregular in their settings. Exploration for podiform chromite deposits associated with ophiolite complexes has been a challenge for the prospectors due to tectonic disturbance and their distribution patterns. Most of Iranian ophiolitic zones are located in mountainous and inaccessible regions. Remote sensing approach could be applicable tool for choromite prospecting in Iranian ophiolitic zones with intensely rugged topography, where systematic sampling and conventional geological mapping are limited. In this study, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite data were used for chromite prospecting and lithological mapping in the Neyriz ophiolitic zone in the south of Iran. Image transformation techniques, namely decorrelation stretch, band ratio and principal component analysis (PCA) were applied to Landsat TM and ASTER data sets for lithological mapping at regional scale. The RGB decorrelated image of Landsat TM spectral bands 7, 5, and 4, and the principal components PC1, PC2 and PC3 image of ASTER SWIR spectral bands efficiently showed the occurrence of major lithological units in the study area at regional scale. The band ratios of 5/3, 5/1, 7/5 applied on ASTER VNIR-SWIR bands were very useful for discriminating most of rock units in the study area and delineation of the transition zone and mantle harzburgite in the Neyriz ophiolitic complex. Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) technique was implemented to ASTER VNIR-SWIR spectral bands for detecting minerals of rock units and especially delineation of the transition zone and mantle harzburgite as potential zones with high chromite mineralization in the Neyriz ophiolitic complex. The integration of information extracted from the image processing algorithms used in this study mapped most of lithological units of the Neyriz ophiolitic complex and identified potential areas of high chromite mineralization (transition zone and mantle harzburgite) for chromite prospecting targets in the future. Furthermore, image processing results were verified by comprehensive fieldwork and laboratory analysis in the study area. Accordingly, result of this investigation indicate that the integration of information extracted from the image processing algorithms using Landsat TM and ASTER data sets could be broadly applicable tool for chromite prospecting and lithological mapping in mountainous and inaccessible regions such Iranian ophiolitic zones.
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