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Spectral unmixing of airborne hyperspectral data for baseline mapping of mine tailings areas

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The Kam Kotia mine tailings areas near Timmins in Ontario, Canada have been generating and discharging acidic mine drainage (AMD) into the surrounding areas for more than 35 years, killing large areas of forest and polluting the local water system. This paper presents results from the remote sensing monitoring programme in the Kam Kotia mine. Hyperspectral TRW (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc.) Imaging Spectrometer III data were acquired over the Kam Kotia mine and tailings areas. This paper describes (1) the data pre-processing (noise removal, atmospheric correction, spectral smile correction, scene-based calibration) needed to radiometrically calibrate the images and (2) a novel procedure which combines constrained spectral mixture analysis and threshold-based classification. With this developed procedure one can retrieve fraction maps of major mine tailings-related surface materials and hence generate a surface map separating green vegetation, transition zones, dead vegetation, and oxidized tailings, and calculate the extent (surficial area) of each of the zones. The four zones are correlated with the extent and degree of vegetation cover affected by tailings material and are interpreted to span respectively from very low to medium, high, and very high AMD pollution. This procedure can be used to monitor changes in the course of the boundary between affected zones and finally quantify the rehabilitation process in mine tailings areas with high vegetation cover.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geodesy and Remote Sensing, Remote Sensing Section, GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany 2: Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Center/Department of Geography, The University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 3M4

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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