Geostatistics

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Geostatistics is a branch of statistics focusing on spatial or spatiotemporal datasets. Developed originally to predict probability distributions of ore grades for mining operations, it is currently applied in diverse disciplines including petroleum geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, geochemistry, geometallurgy, geography, forestry, environmental control, landscape ecology, soil science, and agriculture (esp. in precision farming). Geostatistics is applied in varied branches of geography, particularly those involving the spread of diseases (epidemiology), the practice of commerce and military planning (logistics), and the development of efficient spatial networks. Geostatistical algorithms are incorporated in many places, including geographic information systems (GIS) and the R statistical environment.

Contents

Background

Geostatistics is intimately related to interpolation methods, but extends far beyond simple interpolation problems. It consists of a collection of numerical and mathematical techniques dealing with the characterization of spatial phenomena. Geostatistical techniques rely on statistical model that is based on random function (or random variable) theory to model the uncertainty associated with spatial estimation.

A number of simpler interpolation methods/algorithms, such as inverse distance weighting, linear interpolation and nearest-neighbor interpolation, were already well known before geostatistics. Geostatistics goes beyond the interpolation problem by considering the studied phenomenon at unknown locations as a random variable.

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