Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Waleed Abdalati

Second Advisor

William Travis

Third Advisor

Suzanne Nelson


The focus of this thesis is to explore remote sensing and GIS techniques used in the exploration of geothermal energy resources. A literature review investigated various methodologies, workflows, and algorithms used in geothermal reconnaissance. This knowledge was then implemented in a case study of regions in Colorado. Using GIS data and maps, a region showing high potential of geothermal resource presence was determined. Located near Trinidad, Colorado, this region of interest was then investigated through image analysis incorporating methods researched in the literature review. Anomalies were found and confirmed complications found in current practices in remote sensing geothermal resources. Thermal infrared (TIR) analysis is complicated with introduced thermal noise from insolation interactions with both surface and atmosphere, resulting in a masking of subsurface thermal anomalous readings. Further research is required to remove the effects of insolation to create an efficient geothermal reconnaissance workflow. This workflow would be improved with the incorporation of in situ spectroscopic analysis used in tandem with hyperspectral and high resolution shortwave infrared (SWIR) image analysis methodologies accounting for insolation and thermal inertia effects. Field work obtaining thermal and mineralogical spectroscopy of regions with discovered anomalies using GIS data and interpolated map surfaces will improve workflow. Incorporating field data covering a region of interest over time, observing seasonal changes in solar radiation and precipitation can improve landcover classification techniques and improve the location of geothermal resources.