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geostatisticsarticle

geostatisticsarticle

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Published by: kajugus on Sep 03, 2010
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04/27/2011

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Geostatistics 
 An article outlining the issuesthat affect the use of geostatisticsin geotechnical engineeringanalysis. The profession needs to fully appreciate the power of themethod, understand its conceptsand tools, and make its use part of routine geotechnical analysis.
Geomechanicssoftware solutionsused worldwide bygeotechnicalengineers
Software tools for rock and soil 
 Article prepared for RocNewsSpring 2003
 
Geostatistics in Geotechnical Engineering:
 A fad or an empowering approach?
Geotechnical engineering is constantly evolving and its practitioners always onthe lookout for tools, which improve design and help better cope with the largeuncertainties and variations in soil and rock properties.
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In recent years, several authors haveattempted to apply geostatisticsto the problems of geotechnicalengineering. Does this eld holdpromise for geotechnicalapplications? Geotechnicalengineering is constantly evolvingand always seeking for tools, whichimprove design and help better cope with the large uncertaintiesand variations in soil and rockproperties. In recent years, severalauthors have attempted to applygeostatistics to the problems of geotechnical engineering. Does this eld hold promise for geotechnicalapplications?To help track the evolution of theinterest of geotechnical engineers inthis science, we conducted a simplesurvey of geotechnical engineeringpapers that listed “geostatistics” intheir titles, abstracts, descriptionsor keywords. The search coveredthe period from 1970 to 2003. It found 64 such publications. Wethen sorted the outcome by year of publication and created a histogram(Figure 1) of the resulting table.
Figure 1 - A histogram plot of the frequency of geotechnicalpublications on geostatistics over the last 33 years
 
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The histogram indicates that upuntil 1978, no paper existed thatlisted its focus as geostatistics andgeotechnical engineering. Over therest of the period, interest seemsto peak and fall a few times, andcurrently interest appears to be atanother low. Is there going to beanother peak or are we seeing theend of interest in geostatistics? Whyis geotechnical engineering losinginterest in geostatistics? Does itnot offer the profession signicantadvantages? These are just a few of the questions that beg to be asked from our simple analysis. We believe that the profession isat a crossroads with regards togeostatistics. If the profession isable to fully appreciate the power of the method and understand itsconcepts and tools, geotechnicalengineering will benettremendously. If the profession isunable to soon harness the power of geostatistics, application of themethod might again be shelved,at least for a while. We believe thatRocscience can contribute in a waythat helps ensure successful use of geostatistics in routine geotechnicalanalysis.
What is Geostatistics?
Geostatistics deals with spatial data,i.e. data for which each value isassociated with a location in space.In such analysis it is assumed thatthere is some connection betweenlocation and data value. Fromknown values at sampled points,geostatistical analysis can be usedto predict spatial distributionsof properties over large areas or volumes.To determine geotechnical andgeological conditions, such as thestratigraphy of soil or rock layersat a project site, boreholes aredrilled at some specied locations. Very often, and as expected, one nds that measurements fromboreholes near to each other tendto be more similar than those from widely separated boreholes.This observation forms the basisof the assumption in geostatisticsthat location has a relationship tomeasured properties.In what way does geostatisticsdiffer from conventional statistics?Statistics generally analyzes andinterprets the uncertainty causedby limited sampling. For example,a conventional statistical analysisof core samples from a siteinvestigation program might showthat measured cohesion values
If the profession is unable to soon harness the power of geostatistics,application of the method might again be shelved.

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