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The Chameleon Concept: Modeling Quaternary Geomorphic Surfaces Using Laboratory, Field, and Imaging Spectrometry in the Lower Colorado Sonoran Desert

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Doctoral thesis

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Chameleon is a physics-based landscape modeling software system designed for modeling and simulations. Hyperspectral laboratory, field, and imaging spectrometer measurements are collected as empirical foundation data. Linear spectral unmixing decomposes each image pixel into spectral endmembers. Spectral editing tools allow mathematical manipulation of these fractional abundances and introduction of new spectral information. Image spectra are modified on a sub-pixel, per-pixel, or neighborhood basis, or the entire hypercube can be customized at once. Chameleon then regenerates synthetic, but spectrally accurate, terrain models using linear spectral remixing algorithms. By incorporating elevation, sun angle, and weather data, the landscape becomes a Chameleon-able to change hyperspectral properties based on multitemporal spectral measurements, requirements for developmental tests and operational training, or as required by specific simulation scenarios. Advanced knowledge of natural environments to be modeled is prerequisite to generating useful synthetic terrains. Our spectral research on arid Quaternary geomorphic surfaces suggests that deserts often assumed to be less difficult to study remotely than humid, temperate, and cold environments are more complex than is generally accepted. A variety of rock coatings can significantly alter reflectance in the solar reflected spectrum. Weathering rinds and carbonate deposits inhibit lithologic reflectance altogether. However, manganese-rich rock varnish obscures rock reflectance in the visible and near infrared wavelengths, but transmits lithologic information in the 2000 to 2500 nanometer wavelengths. Surface soils on desert pavements consist of a layer of eolian dust that overlies an accreting vesicular Av horizon. These soils have same structure and chemistry, and, therefore, the same hyperspectral signature, regardless of landform age, geomorphic process, or parent material.

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  • Cartography and Aerial Photography
  • Operations Research
  • Computer Programming and Software

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