Thermal imaging diagnostics was used as a surface temperature mapping tool to characterize the energy density distribution of a high-intensity pulsed ion beam. This approach was tested on the TEMP-6 accelerator (200–250 kV, 150 ns). The beam composition included carbon ions (85%) and protons, and the energy density in the focus was 5–12 J/cm2. Targets of stainless steel, titanium, brass, copper, and tungsten were examined. Our observations show that the maximum energy density measured with the thermal imaging diagnostics considerably exceeds the ablation threshold of the targets. An analysis of the overheating mechanisms of each target was carried out, including metastable overheating of the target to above its boiling temperature during rapid heating; formation, migration, and the subsequent annealing of fast radiation-induced defects in the target under ion beam irradiation. This expands the range of energy density measurement for this thermal imaging diagnostics from 2–3 J/cm2 up to 10–12 J/cm2 but introduces error into the results of measurement. For a stainless steel target, this error exceeds 15% at an energy density of more than 4 J/cm2. A method of correcting the results of the thermal imaging diagnostics is developed for a pulsed ion beam under conditions of intense ablation of the target material.