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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5035

Alteration, Slope-Classified Alteration, and Potential Lahar Inundation Maps of Volcanoes for the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Volcanoes Archive

By John C. Mars, Bernard Hubbard, David Pieri, and Justin Linick

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (14 MB)Abstract

This study identifies areas prone to lahars from hydrothermally altered volcanic edifices on a global scale, using visible and near infrared (VNIR) and short wavelength infrared (SWIR) reflectance data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) and digital elevation data from the ASTER Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) dataset. This is the first study to create a global database of hydrothermally altered volcanoes showing quantitatively compiled alteration maps and potentially affected drainages, as well as drainage-specific maps illustrating modeled lahars and their potential inundation zones. We (1) identified and prioritized 720 volcanoes based on population density surrounding the volcanoes using the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program database (GVP) and LandScan™ digital population dataset; (2) validated ASTER hydrothermal alteration mapping techniques using Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and ASTER data for Mount Shasta, California, and Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl), Mexico; (3) mapped and slope-classified hydrothermal alteration using ASTER VNIR-SWIR reflectance data on 100 of the most densely populated volcanoes; (4) delineated drainages using ASTER GDEM data that show potential flow paths of possible lahars for the 100 mapped volcanoes; (5) produced potential alteration-related lahar inundation maps using the LAHARZ GIS code for Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico, and Mount Hood and Mount Shasta in the United States that illustrate areas likely to be affected based on DEM-derived volume estimates of hydrothermally altered rocks and the ~2x uncertainty factor inherent within a statistically-based lahar model; and (6) saved all image and vector data for 3D and 2D display in Google Earth, ArcGIS® and other graphics display programs. In addition, these data are available from the ASTER Volcano Archive (AVA) for distribution (available at

Using the GVP and the LandScan™ digital population dataset, 350 of the most densely populated stratovolcanoes were assessed for study. Of the 350 volcanoes, 250 volcanoes were not mapped due to excessive snow, ice, and (or) vegetation. Results from mapping the remaining 100 stratovolcanoes show that 87 contain slopes with hydrothermal alteration, and 49 have hydrothermally altered rocks on steep slopes situated above areas with populations >100 people per km2. Of these, 17 stratovolcanoes exhibit laterally extensive hydrothermal alteration on slopes >35° and cover an area >0.25 km2, which may pose a significant possibility of generating debris flows.

This study was undertaken during 2012–2013 in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since completion of this study, a new lahar modeling program (LAHAR_pz) has been released, which may produce slightly different modeling results from the LAHARZ model used in this study. The maps and data from this study should not be used in place of existing volcano hazard maps published by local authorities. For volcanoes without hazard maps and (or) published lahar-related hazard studies, this work will provide a starting point from which more accurate hazard maps can be produced. This is the first dataset to provide digital maps of altered volcanoes and adjacent watersheds that can be used for assessing volcanic hazards, hydrothermal alteration, and other volcanic processes in future studies.

First posted July 2, 2015

This publication is online only

For additional information, contact:
Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., MS 954
Room 4C200
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Mars, J.C., Hubbard, B., Pieri, D., and Linick, J.L., 2015, Alteration, slope-classified alteration, and potential lahar inundation maps of volcanoes for the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Volcanoes Archive: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5035, 19 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




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