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ABSTRACT: Image Interpretation for Petroleum Exploration in Southeast Asia

NASH, COLIN R., S. R. SNODIN, and J. G. WILSON, Australian Photogeological Consultants P/L, Canberra, Australia

Image interpretation techniques provide an elegant solution to the intractable problems which mountainous and jungle-clad terrain stretching from India to New Guinea pose for geological mapping and exploration. Existing information in these regions is sparse owing to limited government resources and problems of access for field mapping.

Terrain maps and accurate lithostructural maps, which are essential tools in the early stages of petroleum exploration, may be cost-effectively derived from existing remotely sensed data. Small-scale aerial photographs, high-resolution multispectral satellite data (Landsat TM and SPOT), and stereoscopic airborne SAR data are optimum data for interpretation; coverage is restricted by equatorial climate and by cost factors, however. In their absence, specialized image processing of older Landsat MSS data and interpretation of ubiquitous large-scale aerial photographs acquired for forestry provide adequate substitutes.

Terrane analysis mapping seeks to display drainage, landforms and cultural features relevant to planning access for seismic and other field-based programs. Because of lack of accurate topographic base maps, reliance is often placed upon Landsat MSS imagery as a planimetric base to which distorted information from interpretation of aerial photographs may be compiled.

Lithostructural mapping is the most important application of image interpretation in the tropics. Its success is dependent upon the ability of the interpreter to recognize structural landforms in intensely dissected and jungle-clad terrain, and to translate these observations into maps depicting stratigraphic variation and structural features of relevance to the explorationist. Such maps can only be achieved through methodical and painstaking annotation of individual landforms; techniques which are illustrated by a number of case studies from the southeast Asian region.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91015©1992 AAPG International Conference, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia, August 2-5, 1992 (2009)