Applications of multi-season hyperspectral remote sensing for acid mine water characterization and mapping of secondary iron minerals associated with acid mine drainage
AdvisorCalvin, Wendy M.
Geological Sciences and Engineering
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Acid mine drainage (AMD) resulting from the oxidation of sulfides in mine waste is a major environmental issue facing the mining industry today. Open pit mines, tailings ponds, ore stockpiles, and waste rock dumps can all be significant sources of pollution, primarily heavy metals. These large mining-induced footprints are often located across vast geographic expanses and are difficult to access. With the continuing advancement of imaging satellites, remote sensing may provide a useful monitoring tool for pit lake water quality and the rapid assessment of abandoned mine sites. This study explored the applications of laboratory spectroscopy and multi-season hyperspectral remote sensing for environmental monitoring of mine waste environments. Laboratory spectral experiments were first performed on acid mine waters and synthetic ferric iron solutions to identify and isolate the unique spectral properties of mine waters. These spectral characterizations were then applied to airborne hyperspectral imagery for identification of poor water quality in AMD ponds at the Leviathan Mine Superfund site, CA. Finally, imagery varying in temporal and spatial resolutions were used to identify changes in mineralogy over weathering overburden piles and on dry AMD pond liner surfaces at the Leviathan Mine. Results show the utility of hyperspectral remote sensing for monitoring a diverse range of surfaces associated with AMD.