Hydrothermal altered serpentinized zone and a study of Ni-magnesioferrite-magnetite-awaruite occurrences in Wadi Hibi, Northern Oman Mountain: Discrimination through ASTER mapping

Sankaran Rajendran*, Sobhi Nasir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Economic important minerals and ore deposits are common in hydrothermal altered serpentinized zone. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite sensor is capable of discrimination of such hydrothermal mineralized zone and detection of hydrothermal altered minerals. In the present study, the hydrothermal altered serpentinized harzburgites of Wadi Hibi area of Northern Oman Mountains have been discriminated by using ASTER VNIR-SWIR spectral bands by image processing methods and the occurrences of Ni-magnesioferrite-magnetite-awaruite in the rocks are studied. The color composite RGB image developed using ASTER spectral bands 8, 4 and 1, mapped well the occurrence of weathered peridotites by pale green to dark blue in colors and discriminated the hydrothermally altered serpentinized rocks by pale brown to dark blue colors due to the strong absorption of OH and Mg-OH molecules that occurred in the serpentine minerals of the rocks in the study area. The ASTER band ratios 4/7, 4/1, and 2/3. ×. 4/3 RGB images studied are capable of discrimination of hydrothermal mineralized areas more clear by pale blue to purple colors due to the strong absorption of such hydroxyl bearing serpentine minerals. The studied image processing methods are evaluated by applying to the region of Wadi Sarami situated in the Semail ophiolite (Oman). In addition to that, the occurrence of serpentine minerals namely, lizardite and antigorite in the hydrothermally altered serpentinized region are detected qualitatively and quantitatively using Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) supervised classification image processing method and studied.The interpreted images are verified in the field and checked for the occurrences of minerals including Ni-magnesioferrite, magnetite, pentlandite and awaruite and are confirmed through laboratory studies. Petrographic study of serpentinized harzburgites shows that the rocks consist predominantly of antigorite and lizardite serpentines, olivine and have the opaque minerals assemblage of Ni-magnesioferrite. +. magnetite. +. awaruite. +. pentlandite developed during serpentinization of the rock. The occurrences of such minerals are confirmed by XRD, electron microprobe analyses and spectral measurements in the laboratory.ASTER sensor proved its capability in discriminating the hydrothermal altered serpentinized zone and detecting the mineral occurrences and thus the study recommends the technique to the exploration geologists, scientists and mining geologists for mapping of such rocks and minerals in the similar arid region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-226
Number of pages16
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • ASTER sensor
  • Awaruite
  • Ni-magnesioferrite
  • Ophiolites
  • Sultanate of oman
  • Zone of serpentinization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


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