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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The contrast in the emissivity spectra of phosphorite and associated carbonate rock can be used as a guide to delineate phosphorite within dolomite. The thermal emissivity spectrum of phosphorite is characterized by a strong doublet emissivity feature with their absorption minima at 9 µm and 9.5 µm; whereas, host rock dolomite has relatively subdued emissivity minima at ~9 µm. Using the contrast in the emissivity spectra of phosphorite and dolomite, data obtained by the thermal bands of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor were processed to delineate phosphorite within dolomite. A decorrelation stretched ASTER radiance composite could not enhance phosphorite rich zones within the dolomite host rock. However, a decorrelation stretched image composite of selected emissivity bands derived using the emissivity normalization method was suitable to enhance large surface exposures of phosphorite. We have found that the depth of the emissivity minima of phosphorite gradually has increased from dolomite to high-grade phosphorite, while low-grade phosphate has an intermediate emissivity value and the emissivity feature can be studied using three thermal bands of ASTER. In this context, we also propose a relative band depth (RBD) image using selected emissivity bands (bands 11, 12, and 13) to delineate phosphorite from the host rock. We also propose that the RBD image can be used as a proxy to estimate the relative grades of phosphorites, provided the surface exposures of phosphorite are large enough to subdue the role of intrapixel spectral mixing, which can also influence the depth of the diagnostic feature along with the grade. We have validated the phosphorite pixels of the RBD image in the field by carrying out colorimetric analysis to confirm the presence of phosphorite. The result of the study indicates the utility of the proposed relative band depth image derived using ASTER TIR bands for delineating Proterozoic carbonate-hosted phosphorite.

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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

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Remote Sensing

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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