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This paper presents a new linear hyperspectral unmixing method of the minimum volume class, termed simplex identification via split augmented Lagrangian (SISAL). Following Craig's seminal ideas, hyperspectral linear unmixing amounts to finding the minimum volume simplex containing the hyperspectral vectors. This is a nonconvex optimization problem with convex constraints. In the proposed approach, the positivity constraints, forcing the spectral vectors to belong to the convex hull of the end member signatures, are replaced by soft constraints. The obtained problem is solved by a sequence of augmented Lagrangian optimizations. The resulting algorithm is very fast and able so solve problems far beyond the reach of the current state-of-the art algorithms. The effectiveness of SISAL is illustrated with simulated data.