Hyperspectral image analysis of different carbonate lithologies (limestone, karst and hydrothermal dolomites): the Pozalagua Quarry case study (Cantabria, North-west Spain)



Ground-based hyperspectral imaging combined with terrestrial lidar scanning is a novel technique for outcrop analysis, which has been applied to Early and Late Albian carbonates of the Pozalagua Quarry (Cantabrian Mountains, Spain). An image processing workflow has been developed for differentiating limestone from dolomite, providing additional sedimentary and diagenetic information, and the possibility to quantitatively delineate diagenetic phases in an accurate way. Spectral absorption signatures can be linked to specific sedimentary or diagenetic products, such as recent and palaeokarst, hydrothermal karst, (solution enlarged) fractures and different dolomite types. Some of the spectral signatures are related to iron, manganese, organic matter, clay and/or water content. Ground-truthing accessible parts of the quarry showed that the classification based on hyperspectral image interpretation was very accurate. This technique opens the possibility for quantitative data evaluation on sedimentary and diagenetic features in inaccessible outcrops. This study demonstrates the potential of ground-based imaging spectroscopy to provide information about the chemical–mineralogical distribution in outcrops, which could otherwise not be established using conventional field methods.