Visualization, integration and analysis of multi-element geochemical data

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: generated large databases containing information on the concentrations of chemical elements in rocks, surface sediments and biogeochemical materials. Regional geochemical data being imprecise, multivariate, spatially auto-correlated and non-normally distributed pose specific problems to the choice of data analysis methods. Commonly several methods are combined, and the choice of techniques depends on the characteristics of data as well as the purpose of study. One critical issue is dealing with extreme data values (or outliers) in the initial stages of analysis. Another common problem is that integrated analysis of several geochemical datasets is not possible without interpolating the point data into surfaces. Finally, separation of anthropogenic influences from natural geochemical background in the surface materials is an issue of great importance for environmental studies.This study describes an approach to address the above-mentioned problems by a flexible combination and use of GIS and multivariate statistical techniques with high-dimensional visualization. Dynamically linked parallel coordinate and scatterplot matrix display techniques allow simultaneous presentation of spatial, multi-element and qualitative information components of geochemical data. The plots not only display data in multi-dimensional space, but also allow detailed inspection of the data with interactive multi-dimensional brushing tools. The results of the study indicate that these simple high-dimensional visualization techniques can successfully complement the traditional statistical and GIS analysis in all steps of data processing, from data description and outlier identification through data integration, analysis, validation, and presentation of results. The outcomes of the study include: a visual procedure towards intelligent data cleaning where potentially significant information in very high element concentrations is preserved, methods for integration and visual analysis of geochemical datasets collected in different grids, estimation of geochemical baseline concentrations of trace metals in till geochemistry of southeastern Sweden, use of multi-element spatial fingerprints to trace natural geochemical patterns in biogeochemistry, and a new graphical approach to present multi-element geochemical data summaries and results from numerical analysis.