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Abstract

Seepage from hydrocarbon reservoirs can cause a number of chemical and/or mineralogical changes in overlying rocks and soils. These surface changes can be detected by remote sensing imaging systems. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) is an advanced multispectral imaging system in the visible and near infrared (VNIR) to shortwave infrared (SWIR) region. Band ratios of ASTER VNIR and SWIR data to detect red bed bleaching and secondary carbonate formation induced by hydrocarbon seepage are proposed through analysis of the spectral properties of rock samples. Results show that ASTER band ratios of 2/1 and 4/8 can discriminate bleached red beds and secondary carbonate minerals due to hydrocarbon seepage in the northern Tian Shan. They are in good agreement with mineral identification using X-ray diffraction. The ratio technique derived from ASTER data may provide a potential approach for hydrocarbon exploration in areas with sparse vegetation cover.