Satellite ASTER Geoscience Map of Western Australia

Release 15.11.2011

The ASTER geoscience map of WA was publically released by Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore at GSWA's Minerals House. The public release draw a lot of interest by state agencies as well as national and international exploration and mining industry. See here for GSWA's related message.

Left:  Ian Tyler, Tom Cudahy, Norman Moore, James Cleverley, Steve Harvey (from left to right). Right: Tom Cudahy and Norman Moore investigate one of the ASTER derived Geoscience products.

The Product

The ASTER geoscience map of WA is a set of public, web-accessible digital geoscience products generated from satellite ASTER data.

ASTER stands for Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer and is a Japanese imaging instrument flying on the US TERRA satellite, launched in December 1999. The multispectral imaging sensor is the world’s first and only “geoscience tuned” satellite Earth Observing system to date.

The WA Centre of Excellence for 3D Mineral Mapping (C3DMM), led by CSIRO, developed new methods and software that transformed the raw ASTER satellite data into a new suite of 14 mineral group maps (e.g. Figure 1).

This ASTER geoscience map of WA is the largest of its type in the world and should help set the standard for global ASTER geoscience mapping.

Product details

ASTER has 14 spectral bands spanning wavelengths sensitive to important rock forming minerals, including:

• Iron oxides

• Clays

• Carbonates,

• Quartz, and

• “Hydrothermal” minerals such as muscovite and chlorite.

Each ASTER image covers a 60 by 60 km area with individual pixel elements ranging from 15 to 90 m, depending on wavelength. This is suitable for geoscience mapping at scales from the continent (1:2,500,000) down to the mineral prospect (1:50,000) scale. The WA mosaic is sourced from ~12,000 ASTER scenes with approximately 1500 used in the final mosaic.

Satellite WA ASTER Geoscience map of iron oxide composition

Figure 1:  Satellite WA ASTER Geoscience map of iron oxide composition (blue: goethitic; red - hematitic).

The image pre-processing methodology to generate the 14 WA ASTER geoscience map products involves correcting for complicating instrument, atmosphere and vegetation effects. The resultant ASTER geoscience maps provide new mineral information not available from other current technologies. This new mineral information is valuable for more accurate mapping of the regolith cover that blankets much of Australia and finding those often small islands of bedrock materials, such as greenstones that may be associated with gold, punching through to the surface (Figure 2).

The final geoscience products represent “mineral group” information only. The reason for this is that the determination of the abundance and chemistry of specific minerals requires even higher resolution systems often termed as hyperspectral, which measures hundreds of spectral bands, such as the Australian airborne HyMap™ system ( A suite of hyperspectral satellites will be launched from 2015 ( and CSIRO is working with International satellite teams to again capture their benefit for Australia.

Partners involved

CSIRO has been collaborating with Japanese space agencies and NASA for twenty years in order to capture the opportunity of continental-scale mapping of land surface mineralogy over Australia. CSIRO has also enjoyed close partnerships with government geosurveys across Australia and in the last 2-3 years been successful in securing funding through schemes such as the WA Exploration Incentive Scheme and WA Centres of Excellence funding (for establishing C3DMM).

Accessing the maps

The WA ASTER geoscience maps are digitally available to the public as GIS-compatible images (e.g. TIF and JPG format) or in image-processing software format (e.g. BSQ with headers).

The TIF and JPG format data can be downloaded online from:

• CSIRO's C3DMM webpage or

• Auscope

The State ASTER maps have been carved into 1:1,000,000 mapsheets with individual file sizes reduced to ~100 Mbytes each. The complete data set, including the BSQ data (~500 Gigabytes), is available from Geological Survey Western Australia product sales via an external drive (

Future work

The satellite ASTER geoscience map of WA is the first instalment of an Australian ASTER geoscience map that is being developed in cooperation with the other State and Territory surveys and Geoscience Australia. A national map (Version 1) is scheduled for release at the 34 International Geological Convention in Brisbane 2012 ( Both are being generated through the WA Centre of Excellence for 3D Mineral Mapping. Later updates of this map may include improved removal of complicating vegetation effects and products derived from thermal infrared.


© Copyright 2009 CSIRO. Last updated: 23rd October 2009