An Examination of Transformation Techniques to Investigate and Interpret Multivariate Geochemical Data Analysis: Tellus Case Study

Jennifer McKinley, Oy Leuangthong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This research aims to use the multivariate geochemical dataset, generated by the Tellus project, to investigate the appropriate use of transformation methods to maintain the integrity of geochemical data and inherent constrained behaviour in multivariate relationships. The widely used normal score transform is compared with the use of a stepwise conditional transform technique. The Tellus Project, managed by GSNI and funded by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Development and the EU’s Building Sustainable Prosperity Fund, involves the most comprehensive geological mapping project ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. Previous study has demonstrated spatial variability in the Tellus data but geostatistical analysis and interpretation of the datasets requires use of an appropriate methodology that reproduces the inherently complex multivariate relations. Previous investigation of the Tellus geochemical data has included use of Gaussian-based techniques. However, earth science variables are rarely Gaussian, hence transformation of data is integral to the approach. The multivariate geochemical dataset generated by the Tellus project provides an opportunity to investigate the appropriate use of transformation methods, as required for Gaussian-based geostatistical analysis. In particular, the stepwise conditional transform is investigated and developed for the geochemical datasets obtained as part of the Tellus project. The transform is applied to four variables in a bivariate nested fashion due to the limited availability of data. Simulation of these transformed variables is then carried out, along with a corresponding back transformation to original units. Results show that the stepwise transform is successful in reproducing both univariate statistics and the complex bivariate relations exhibited by the data. Greater fidelity to multivariate relationships will improve uncertainty models, which are required for consequent geological, environmental and economic inferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-242
Number of pages12
JournalQuantitative Geology and Geostatistics
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010
Event7th International Conference on Geostatistics for Environmental Applications - Southampton, England, United Kingdom
Duration: 01 Sep 201001 Sep 2010


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