The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B8
23 Jun 2016
 | 23 Jun 2016


A. S. Harvey and G. Fotopoulos

Keywords: Geology, Geological Mapping, MLA, Random Forest, Spectral Imagery, Rocks

Abstract. Remotely sensed spectral imagery, geophysical (magnetic and gravity), and geodetic (elevation) data are useful in a variety of Earth science applications such as environmental monitoring and mineral exploration. Using these data with Machine Learning Algorithms (MLA), which are widely used in image analysis and statistical pattern recognition applications, may enhance preliminary geological mapping and interpretation. This approach contributes towards a rapid and objective means of geological mapping in contrast to conventional field expedition techniques. In this study, four supervised MLAs (naïve Bayes, k-nearest neighbour, random forest, and support vector machines) are compared in order to assess their performance for correctly identifying geological rocktypes in an area with complete ground validation information. Geological maps of the Sudbury region are used for calibration and validation. Percent of correct classifications was used as indicators of performance. Results show that random forest is the best approach. As expected, MLA performance improves with more calibration clusters, i.e. a more uniform distribution of calibration data over the study region. Performance is generally low, though geological trends that correspond to a ground validation map are visualized. Low performance may be the result of poor spectral images of bare rock which can be covered by vegetation or water. The distribution of calibration clusters and MLA input parameters affect the performance of the MLAs. Generally, performance improves with more uniform sampling, though this increases required computational effort and time. With the achievable performance levels in this study, the technique is useful in identifying regions of interest and identifying general rocktype trends. In particular, phase I geological site investigations will benefit from this approach and lead to the selection of sites for advanced surveys.