At present, Western Sahara is politically one of the most sensitive areas of the World. Its economic development could be achieved through the exploitation of mineral resources that can be found in the almost unexplored area administrated by the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. In this paper, we describe applications of known and cost-effective remote sensing techniques to detect and map areas containing mineral deposits, through the enhancement of Landsat ETM+ imageries. Several image processing techniques (false color composite, band ratioing, and principal component analysis) were used to highlight the presence of iron deposits. Two test areas were selected, one in Western Sahara and another one in Algeria. The occurrence of iron deposits in these test areas was assured using literature data for the Algerian test site and through a field campaign for the Western Sahara. There is good agreement between the ground truth data and the results obtained by the enhancements of the satellite images. Landsat images can be downloaded free of charge and their enhancements does not need expensive hardware or software tools. Therefore this technology could be transferred to the Saharawi technicians, enabling them to explore and manage the mineral resources of their own country independently.
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This research was financed by Autostrade per L’Italia S.p.a. The authors are grateful to the staff of the SADR Government and to Fiorella Bendoni from NGO Ban Slout Larbi for providing general support during the field work. We are very grateful to H.M Rajesh, to an anonymous reviewer and to the Editor-in-Chief J. Carranza for making many helpful suggestions that improved the manuscript.
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Ciampalini, A., Garfagnoli, F., Del Ventisette, C. et al. Potential Use of Remote Sensing Techniques for Exploration of Iron Deposits in Western Sahara and Southwest of Algeria. Nat Resour Res 22, 179–190 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11053-013-9209-5
- Mineral detection
- iron exploitation
- Western Sahara
- developing country