A machine learning approach to geochemical mapping
Kirkwood, Charlie and Cave, Mark and Beamish, David and Grebby, Stephen and Ferreira, Antonio (2016) A machine learning approach to geochemical mapping. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 167 . pp. 49-61. ISSN 1879-1689
Geochemical maps provide invaluable evidence to guide decisions on issues of mineral exploration, agriculture, and environmental health. However, the high cost of chemical analysis means that the ground sampling density will always be limited. Traditionally, geochemical maps have been produced through the interpolation of measured element concentrations between sample sites using models based on the spatial autocorrelation of data (e.g. semivariogram models for ordinary kriging). In their simplest form such models fail to consider potentially useful auxiliary information about the region and the accuracy of the maps may suffer as a result. In contrast, this study uses quantile regression forests (an elaboration of random forest) to investigate the potential of high resolution auxiliary information alone to support the generation of accurate and interpretable geochemical maps. This paper presents a summary of the performance of quantile regression forests in predicting element concentrations, loss on ignition and pH in the soils of south west England using high resolution remote sensing and geophysical survey data.
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