Lithological and alteration mineral mapping for alluvial gold exploration in the south east of Birao area, Central African Republic using Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) data

Traore M., Takodjou Wambo J. D. , Ndepete C. P. , Tekin S., Pour A. B. , Muslim A. M.

JOURNAL OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENCES, vol.170, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 170
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2020.103933


Geological field mapping and mineral exploration still remain very laborious in many parts of the inter tropical regions of African plate due to remoteness, low security and high cost. Currently, a number of remote sensing satellite imagery are freely available and can be broadly used for lithological mapping and mineral exploration in inaccessible regions of African plate. The Birao region of the Central African Republic is well known for its alluvial deposits of gold and copper. The Birao region is located in subtropical belt of Africa plate. In this study, Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) satellite imagery was used for lithological and alteration mapping in the south-eastern part (inaccessible zone) of Birao region for alluvial gold exploration. Image processing techniques such as False Color Composite (FCC), Band Ratio (BR), Principal component analysis (PCA), minimum noise fraction (MNF) and Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) were executed to extract spectral information related to lithological units and alteration minerals. Clay and carbonate minerals, iron oxides, ferrous silicates and lithological units, including the Neo-Chadian Formation, the Lower Proterozoic Formations and the Recent Alluvial Formation were identified and discriminated in the study area. The band ratio of 6/7, 4/2 and 6/5 were typically used to map clay, iron oxides and ferrous silicates, respectively. The results of band ratio and PCA techniques were integrated with fuzzy logic modeling that considerably highlighted hydrothermal alteration minerals and high perspective zones for alluvial gold exploration. Additionally, an updated lithological-mineralogical map was generated for south-eastern part of the Birao region by fusing the FCC, MNF and SAM techniques. Comparison with previous lithological map of the study area, virtual verification, fieldwork and laboratory data confirmed good rate of accuracy for the result obtained from the Landsat-8 OLI satellite data. The approach presented in this study is a low-cost technique that highly applicable for lithological mapping and mineral exploration in remote subtropical regions of African plate.