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U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 709–B

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability Operations and the Afghanistan Geological Survey

Local-Area-Enhanced, 2.5-Meter Resolution Natural-Color and Color-Infrared Satellite-Image Mosaics of the Balkhab Mineral District in Afghanistan

By Philip A. Davis and Laura E. Cagney


Thumbnail of and link to map PDF (0.3 MB)
Index map displaying the location of the Balkhab mineral district within Afghanistan in the geographic coordinate system. Index map is provided in both PDF and jpeg formats. Click on the figure for a PDF (0.3 MB).

Thumbnail of and link to map PDF (1.2 MB)
Index map of the image products showing the extent of the target area and tile or quadrant scheme that was used to subdivide the image mosaics for the target area. The target area includes a subarea for detailed investigation (the Balkhab Prospect subarea), whose boundaries are also depicted. This information is displayed on the topographic shaded-relief base map of Bohannon (2007) in the UTM map projection and is provided in both PDF and jpeg formats. Click on the figure for a PDF (1.2 MB).


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, prepared databases for mineral-resource target areas in Afghanistan. The purpose of the databases is to (1) provide useful data to ground-survey crews for use in performing detailed assessments of the areas and (2) provide useful information to private investors who are considering investment in a particular area for development of its natural resources. The set of satellite-image mosaics provided in this Data Series (DS) is one such database. Although airborne digital color-infrared imagery was acquired for parts of Afghanistan in 2006, the image data have radiometric variations that preclude their use in creating a consistent image mosaic for geologic analysis. Consequently, image mosaics were created using ALOS (Advanced Land Observation Satellite; renamed Daichi) satellite images, whose radiometry has been well determined (Saunier, 2007a,b). This part of the DS consists of the locally enhanced ALOS image mosaics for the Balkhab mineral district, which has copper deposits.

ALOS was launched on January 24, 2006, and provides multispectral images from the AVNIR (Advanced Visible and Near-Infrared Radiometer) sensor in blue (420–500 nanometer, nm), green (520–600 nm), red (610–690 nm), and near-infrared (760–890 nm) wavelength bands with an 8-bit dynamic range and a 10-meter (m) ground resolution. The satellite also provides a panchromatic band image from the PRISM (Panchromatic Remote-sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping) sensor (520–770 nm) with the same dynamic range but a 2.5-m ground resolution. The image products in this DS incorporate copyrighted data provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (©JAXA,2007,2008), but the image processing has altered the original pixel structure and all image values of the JAXA ALOS data, such that original image values cannot be recreated from this DS. As such, the DS products match JAXA criteria for value added products, which are not copyrighted, according to the ALOS end-user license agreement.

The selection criteria for the satellite imagery used in our mosaics were images having (1) the highest solar-elevation angles (near summer solstice) and (2) the least cloud, cloud-shadow, and snow cover. The multispectral and panchromatic data were orthorectified with ALOS satellite ephemeris data, a process which is not as accurate as orthorectification using digital elevation models (DEMs); however, the ALOS processing center did not have a precise DEM. As a result, the multispectral and panchromatic image pairs were generally not well registered to the surface and not coregistered well enough to perform resolution enhancement on the multispectral data. Therefore, it was necessary to (1) register the 10-m AVNIR multispectral imagery to a well-controlled Landsat image base, (2) mosaic the individual multispectral images into a single image of the entire area of interest, (3) register each panchromatic image to the registered multispectral image base, and (4) mosaic the individual panchromatic images into a single image of the entire area of interest. The two image-registration steps were facilitated using an automated control-point algorithm developed by the USGS that allows image coregistration to within one picture element. Before rectification, the multispectral and panchromatic images were converted to radiance values and then to relative-reflectance values using the methods described in Davis (2006). Mosaicking the multispectral or panchromatic images started with the image with the highest sun-elevation angle and the least atmospheric scattering, which was treated as the standard image. The band-reflectance values of all other multispectral or panchromatic images within the area were sequentially adjusted to that of the standard image by determining band-reflectance correspondence between overlapping images using linear least-squares analysis. The resolution of the multispectral image mosaic was then increased to that of the panchromatic image mosaic using the SPARKLE logic, which is described in Davis (2006). Each of the four-band images within the resolution-enhanced image mosaic was individually subjected to a local-area histogram stretch algorithm (described in Davis, 2007), which stretches each band’s picture element based on the digital values of all picture elements within a 315-m radius. The final databases, which are provided in this DS, are three-band, color-composite images of the local-area-enhanced, natural-color data (the blue, green, and red wavelength bands) and color-infrared data (the green, red, and near-infrared wavelength bands).

All image data were initially projected and maintained in Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) map projection using the target area’s local zone (42 for Balkhab) and the WGS84 datum. The final image mosaics were subdivided into two overlapping tiles or quadrants because of the large size of the target area. The two image tiles (or quadrants) for the Balkhab area are provided as embedded geotiff images, which can be read and used by most geographic information system (GIS) and image-processing software. The tiff world files (tfw) are provided, even though they are generally not needed for most software to read an embedded geotiff image. Within the Balkhab study area, one subarea was designated for detailed field investigations (that is, the Balkhab Prospect subarea); this subarea was extracted from the area’s image mosaic and is provided as separate embedded geotiff images.

References Cited

Bohannon, R.G., 2007, Topographic map of quadrangle 3566, Sang-Charak (501) and Sayhgan-o-Kamard (502) quadrangles, Afghanistan, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005–1100–B, 1:250,000 scale, available at

Davis, P.A., 2006, Calibrated Landsat ETM+ nonthermal-band image mosaics of Afghanistan: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006–1345, 18 p., available at

Davis, P.A., 2007, Landsat ETM+ false-color image mosaics of Afghanistan: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007–1029, 22 p., available at

Saunier, S., 2007a, Final calibration/validation report, PRISM: GAEL Consultant report, 27 p., accessed April 23, 2012, at

Saunier, S., 2007b, Final calibration/validation report, AVNIR-2: GAEL Consultant report, 25 p., accessed April 23, 2012, at

  • This report is available only on the Web.

For additional information:
Contact Information, Mineral Resources Program
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
913 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Davis, P.A., and Cagney, L.E., 2012, Local-area-enhanced, 2.5-meter resolution natural-color and color-infrared satellite-image mosaics of the Balkhab mineral district in Afghanistan, in Davis, P.A., compiler, Local-area-enhanced, high-resolution natural-color and color-infrared satellite-image mosaics of mineral districts in Afghanistan: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 709–B,

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