Mineral resources are essential to the national security and economic prosperity of the United States. The Nation’s heavy reliance on imports of critical minerals increases its vulnerability to events that disrupt the supply chain. Novel methods to characterize new mineral resources are required to meet expected national and global demands and an anticipated shift to a renewable energy economy.
Imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral imaging) is a rapidly advancing technology that is increasingly applied at many points in the life cycle of minerals, from initial remote sensing-based exploration to laboratory scanning for drill core characterization, spectral identification of minerals in hand specimens, and exploitation of airborne and satellite imagery archives. Imaging spectroscopy can assist in the mineral characterization of abandoned, legacy, and un-reclaimed mines and their potential for critical minerals, which is a recent focus of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Resources Program (MRP) and the Energy and Minerals Mission Area.
This project is producing maps of surface mineralogy at 15-meter resolution from the largest contiguous coverage of hyperspectral imagery ever assembled for the U.S.: over 380,000 square kilometers in California and Nevada. These data will be the basis for new methods of mapping critical minerals, including those critical for battery fabrication, and evaluating resources available from waste on legacy mine lands. In association with the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) project, the coverage will be expanded in the western United States to acquire hyperspectral data for an additional 500,000 square kilometers over the next four years.
Existing hyperspectral imagery being processed by projects of the USGS Mineral Resources Program (yellow) and proposed Earth MRI data acquisition for the arid western U.S. (white). Existing hyperspectral data cover approximately 380,000 square kilometers. Proposed acquisition is expected to exceed 500,000 square kilometers over the next four years.
Disclaimer: Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.