29 May 2018

By 1964, formerly abundant Southern Elephant Seal colonies had been decimated following a century of exploitation for their oil-rich blubber. Their recovery process has been a long but successful one, monitored by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) as part of the Australian Government’s Department of The Environment and Energy’s priority to understand and conserve Antarctica’s unique life forms.

In September 2017 Geoimage was approached by the AAD to assist in a project to find Southern Elephant Seal colonies using remotely sensed imagery, as an alternative to the traditional high-risk, high-cost method of on-site monitoring. Geoimage has been a trusted supplier of satellite imagery to the AAD for over a decade, leveraging the extensive archive of satellite imagery to collect new assets as required.

The project entailed collecting fresh 30cm satellite imagery over the Vestfold Hills Area, in Princess Elizabeth Land. Southern elephant seals visit sub-Antarctic islands to breed throughout September to November, and to moult their hair and skin between January and April. Collection of the imagery with minimal cloud was required to align with the breeding season of the elephant seal colonies. To ensure optimum monitoring results, these issues indicated the capture program had to fall within narrow 3-month window in the spring-summer of 2017.

Southern elephant seals (Elies) are named after the large proboscis (nose) of the adult males, which is used to make loud roaring sounds, especially during the mating season.
They are large ocean-going mammals with adult males weighing up to 3000 kg and adult females between 300 and 900 kg just prior to giving birth. Pups weigh about 40 kg at birth and are weaned after 24 days, by which time they weigh on average 120 kg. A large weaner may weigh in excess of 220 kg.
They are big and cumbersome on land, but are superb swimmers and divers. Biologists have recorded them diving up to 2 kilometres deep and holding their breath under water for up to 2 hours.
Southern elephant seals have a circumpolar distribution and visit sub-Antarctic islands to breed (September–November) and to moult their hair and skin (January to April). There are four main stock groups: South Georgia, Peninsula Valdez, Iles Kerguelen and Heard Island, and Macquarie Island.


The Project

Map of Vestfold Hills, Princess Elizabeth Land

Australian Antarctic Territory

The Vestfold Hills Area, Princess Elizabeth Land lies on the eastern coast of Antarctica and is accessed via Davis Station.

Davis is situated on the coast of the ice-free Vestfold Hills, a region discovered by Norwegian whalers and Australia’s Douglas Mawson in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The station is named after Captain John King Davis.

The complete 881 sq km Vestfold Hills area was collected by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite at a spatial resolution of 30cm in three swathes on 21 December 2017. WorldView-3 is one of only two spaceborne platforms capable of collecting imagery at such a high spatial resolution. The complete collection took under 30 seconds and the un-processed imagery as three individual swathes was delivered in a digital form to Geoimage within 2 days of collection.

Processing staff at Geoimage created a seamless mosaic of this digital data and delivered the final mosaic to AAD within their required timeframe.

In contrast to this, collection by manual, UAV or airborne means over such a large area and within the defined time constraints would be very difficult, due to extreme weather conditions and access.

The Results

The final WorldView-3 mosaic with its spatial resolution of 30cm, was visually assessed by the AAD to detect the extent and location of the elephant seal colonies.

At this time, this process is manual via on-site counting, however in the future, cost-effective automation may be possible, once definitive characteristics of the elephant seal colonies are established.

A remotely sensed solution will alleviate on-site safety issues and mobilization of staff, as well as allowing the AAD scientists to spend more time on interpretation and analysis of results, rather than collection of information.

Image of the full Vestfold Hills Area, Princess Elizabeth Land

Collected by WorldView-3 at 30cm Spatial Resolution

© DigitalGlobe 2017

Section of the Vestfold Hills Area, Princess Elizabeth Land

Coastal Section in the South of the Above

Collected by WorldView-3 at 30cm Spatial Resolution

© DigitalGlobe 2017

Section of the Vestfold Hills Area, Princess Elizabeth Land

Coastal Section in the North West of the Above

Collected by WorldView-3 at 30cm Spatial Resolution

© DigitalGlobe 2017

As new areas in Antarctica and the subantarctic region are investigated or areas previously investigated are re-assessed, satellite imagery, its collection and analysis, provides a very useful tool in the delivery of Australia’s Antarctic science strategic priorities.

In addition to this work, AAD have also utilized satellite imagery collected over a number of years to assess the movement and change in shape of glaciers and sea surface ice.

As new imagery is collected, it is added to the extensive archive, not only over Antarctica but anywhere in the world where that collection is made, and that archive can be accessed by anyone working in any industry.

About Geoimage

Geoimage was founded in 1988 as Australia’s first commercial Satellite Imagery specialist consultancy. Over thirty years on, Geoimage continues to service clients in Government and Industry as the worlds leading advisors on Earth Observation imagery and associated technology.

We are an independent consultancy and as such are able to recommend and access the imagery most suited to a client’s application and requirements. Our aim is to provide and deliver fit-for-purpose spatial solutions rather than making the application fit the imagery.

Our client base covers a number of vertical markets and industries including mineral exploration, agriculture, oil and gas, utilities, environment and natural resources and includes all sectors of commerce, education and tiers of government.

Satellite imagery is non-invasive, has unrestricted access to anywhere in the world, has an extensive archive of collected imagery, is programmable for fresh collection, has high inherent locational accuracy and its sensor designs are based on scientific principles.

The possibilities of use of this form of imagery are endless.

About the Australian Antarctic Division

The Australian Antarctic Division, based in Hobart, Tasmania, is part of the Australian Government's Department of the Environment and Energy and is responsible for Australia’s presence and activities in the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Southern Ocean. The Division leads Australia’s Antarctic Program.

The Australian Antarctic Program is highly collaborative, comprising partnerships across government and with more than 150 national and international research institutions. Together, these partnerships contribute to advancing Australia’s interests in Antarctica and the subantarctic region. Australia also works with other countries’ Antarctic programs to run joint international scientific and logistical support operations.

Antarctic science, aligned with our policy interests and integrated with our operational capabilities, is at the heart of the Australian Antarctic Program. Together, Australian and international scientists participating in the program, deliver world-class scientific research consistent with Australia’s Antarctic science strategic priorities.

These priorities include:

- Understanding the role of Antarctica in the global climate system;
- Understanding and conserving Antarctica’s unique life forms;
- Protecting the Antarctic environment; and
- Supporting sound environmental stewardship in the region, with a particular focus on fisheries.

30 Apr 2018

Environmental reporting & rehabilitation monitoring
By leveraging the latest cutting-edge satellite imagery technology, Geoimage works closely with mining organisations to assist in providing environmental reporting and rehabilitation monitoring. Our ongoing partnerships help streamline reporting processes for our clients within the mining industry. Find out below how your organisation can benefit.

Environmental Monitoring and Compliance

As mine sites continue to develop, monitoring both the natural environment and culturally sensitive localities is a key responsibility for all resource operations.

Quantifying and controlling these changes during construction and operation phases is often essential due to legislative reporting requirements. Accurate monitoring and reporting can also save time and money throughout subsequent rehabilitation stages. Using regularly captured imagery, Geoimage works closely with mining organisations to quantitatively track changes in natural (vegetation, fluvial, marine) and pre-existing man-made features. Geoimage can also assist with classifying overburden soil types from satellite imagery, and reporting on total areas covered by a given class.

Rehabilitation Monitoring

Site restoration returns disturbed land from mining activities to a stable, productive and sustainable state for both the local wildlife and surrounding communities. During the rehabilitation process, continual evidence-based monitoring and assessments are required to comply with government legislation for all mining leases. 

Satellite-derived spatial datasets assist in identifying and quantifying rehabilitation areas, regions of success and stress, and be used to assess change throughout project areas. Summaries of these compliance monitoring activities can then be combined with the evidence and support the completion of mining and rehabilitation compliance reports in a timely manner. 

Geoimage arranges satellite capture programs at various resolutions of a project area, on a high-frequency basis. Comparison of multi-date data can assist in identification of any landscape disturbances. Using sophisticated classification algorithms, spectral indices are analysed to identify where mine site pollution, including dust, has impacted a landscape. It is also possible to generate products which assess vegetation health and indicate stress, whether it be development associated or due to natural processes.

If you're about to undertake environmental or rehabilitation reporting, our team of satellite imagery experts can help. Call us on 07 3319 4990 or contact us via

04 Apr 2018

Know where to look before you hit the ground

For thirty years, Geoimage has provided services to resource exploration companies through many of the key stages, covering both regional and targeted site selection. 

Our cutting-edge satellite imagery offers up to an astonishing 30cm resolution for detailed images over priority areas.  Stereo capability delivers Digital Terrain Models with better accuracy than LiDAR of the same resolution, often at a much lower cost. 

A cost-effective approach

Initial Regional Analysis and Area Selection

The processes of area selection and target identification can significantly benefit from the use of satellite imagery. With a large archive and relatively low entry price, medium resolution satellite data can be used along with spectral processing derivatives to locate smaller areas of interest.

Once these areas of particular interest have been defined, clients can subsequently task these areas to be captured by the higher resolution satellites. This two-stage approach reduces overall costs by mitigating multiple data capture missions through the use of appropriately scaled datasets.

By identifying structural features, alteration signatures and more, we’re able to highlight ore bodies and their respective mineralisations. Having worked closely with the exploration sector for many years, Geoimage can recommend particular sensors and techniques to aid in exploration depending on a desired area, commodity and requirements.

We offer spectral processing suites of both high-resolution SWIR’s from WorldView-3, and the eve SWIR’s from ASTER. Our DEMs can also assist with delineating structure features, and we are now able to produce a 50cm DEM with 30cm contours!

The best ways to uncover a wealth of insights

Spectral processing

The Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) sensors measure wavelengths that are useful for identifying alterations associated with minerals. As Landsat ETM+ includes a shortwave infrared band from 2.08-2.35mm, it can not only determine rock types, but also map hydrothermal clays. 

ASTER sensors are also able to leverage multiple thermal imagery to identify epithermal clay minerals, iron oxides, silica, carbonate, malice and propylitic alteration. This imagery is best used for regional mapping at scales down to 1:50,000.

When combined with the satellite-derived surface elevation models, both these products described can be used in stereo analysis to delineate structural features. A two-fold approach between both products is quite common, with lower resolution SRTM data being commonly used for the initial analysis, and high-resolution elevation data consequently being utilised over the areas that show the potential.

If you’re seeking to explore an area to identify potential minerals, ores or propylitic alterations, our team of satellite imagery experts can help. Call us now on 07 3319 4990 or email us via

13 Dec 2017

As another year comes to an end, we're already busy planning ahead with our clients for 2018 operations.

If you're looking to capitalise on any remaining budgets from 2017, now's the best time to put them to use before it's too late.

We're seeing organisations take advantage of this period to invest in the expansion of their existing satellite imagery collections and geospatial solutions. How can Geoimage help you hit the ground running in 2018?

Get in touch with our team today to discuss options available to make the most of your remaining 2017 budget. Call us now on 07 3319 4990 or email us via

We're closing our doors from 4pm Friday 22nd December! Our office will re-open Monday 8th January 2018.

What's hot right now?

Call 07 3319 4990

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