Mapping of Moho and Moho Transition Zone (MTZ) in Samail ophiolites of Sultanate of Oman using remote sensing technique

Sankaran Rajendran*, Sobhi Nasir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Moho and Moho Transition Zone (MTZ) of the Samail ophiolite of Sultanate of Oman are characteristic to potential occurrences of chromite deposit, hydrothermal mineralization and serpentinization. Mapping of Moho and MTZ, and discriminating them in between the mafic and ultramafic rocks in ophiolite sequence are more significant and important. The present study describes the remote sensing spectral characters of minerals and rocks of the Moho and MTZ and discriminates the Moho of Wadi Al Abyad of Nakhl massif, and Wadi Nidab and Wadi Abda regions of Sumail massif in the visible and near infrared (VNIR), and short wavelength infrared (SWIR) spectral regions using low-cost multispectral satellite data of the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). Results of this study show that the red-green-blue (RGB) color composite images of ASTER spectral bands 8, 3 and 1, and 8, 7 and 4 are able to delineate the Moho and MTZ of the regions. The RGB images of ASTER band ratios (4/8, 4/1, 3/2 * 4/3 and (1 + 3)/2, (4 + 6)/5, (7 + 9)/8) are capable to discriminate the mantle material (ultramafic harzburgites) and crustal rocks (mafic gabbros). The occurrence of such rock types is demonstrated by detection of their minerals using Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) image processing method. The presence of Moho and MTZ, and associated lithologies are verified in field at Wadi Al Abyad, Wadi Nidab, Wadi Abda, Wadi Tayin, Wadi Fizh and several locations of Nakhl regions of Samail ophiolites. The laboratory study shows the occurrence of typical minerals namely olivine, orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene in the harzburgite and the minerals such as plagioclase, clinopyroxene, hornblende, orthopyroxene and olivine in the layered gabbro. The spectral properties of the rocks are studied using Portable Infrared Mineral Analyzer (PIMA) spectrometer and the occurrences of minerals are confirmed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses. This study demonstrates the sensor capability of ASTER to map Moho and MTZ, and thus it is recommended to the geoscientists and geophysicists working on Moho and MTZ. The satellite image interpretations of Moho and MTZ, and the associated rocks and minerals are consistent with the field research studies carried out in these regions. Our images have potential to map the chromites mineralized zone and dunites (refractory materials) bearing MTZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Aug 30 2015


  • Image processing
  • Mineral resources
  • Moho Transition Zone
  • Remote sensing
  • Sultanate of Oman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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