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Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31 – 38

Application of wavelet analysis to the study of spatial pattern of

morphotectonic lineaments in digital terrain models. A case study
Gyozo Jordana,b,c,*, Bertram Schottd,1
Geological Institute of Hungary, Budapest, Hungary
Uppsala University, Institute for Earth Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy
University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 23 February 2004; received in revised form 6 August 2004; accepted 15 August 2004


Tectonic faults are often associated with characteristic geomorphological features such as linear valleys, ridgelines and slope breaks that
can be identified as lineaments in remotely sensed images or digital terrain models. Lineaments of tectonic origin are often characterised by
periodicity and characteristic spatial pattern. Unlike traditional methods of autocorrelation, variogram, lineament density and Fourier
analysis, wavelet analysis is capable of capturing and describing both periodicity and spatial pattern of lineaments. In this paper, a case study
is shown for the application of wavelet analysis to morphotectonic lineament investigation. Results of wavelet analysis are compared to
traditional methods. Although this study involves DEM-derived morphological lineaments, the presented wavelet analysis can be also used
for lineaments derived from remotely sensed images. These results hold for this case study and provide a good assessment of the relative
abilities of wavelet analysis, but it remains to be seen how effective it is for other data sources, areas and geological terrain.
D 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Digital elevation model; Digital terrain modelling; Lineament; Morphometry; Structural geology; Tectonic geomorphology; Wavelet analysis

1. Introduction series of pixels having similar terrain values (Koike et al.,

Tectonic faults are often associated with characteristic One of the most important characteristics of faulted
geomorphological features such as linear valleys, ridge- rock is that fractures and related morphological linea-
lines and slope breaks that can be identified as lineaments ments are often located equidistantly (Ramsay & Hubert,
in remotely sensed images or digital elevation models 1987; Siegal & Gillespie, 1980), and thus periodicity of
(DEMs). Lineaments are defined as straight linear morphological lineaments can be an indication of tectonic
elements visible at the Earth’s surface and which are the origin. Equidistant morphological lineaments can also be
representations of geological and/or geomorphological associated with linear sand dunes (Bullard et al., 1997)
phenomena (Clark & Wilson, 1994). In geomorphometric and glacial lineaments (Clark, 1993), for example;
analysis, a linear feature can have geometric origin only however, it is usually fairly easy to distinguish these
and represent a change in terrain elevation, such as a from geological lineaments, on the basis of shape and
valley or ridgeline, slope break or inflex line. In terms of from remotely sensed spectral indications of surface
digital terrain modelling, a lineament is a continuous cover. Another important feature of faulted rock is the
spatial pattern of fractures and related morphological
lineaments that is characteristic to the stress field causing
* Corresponding author. Joint Research Centre of the European
Commission, Ispra, Italy. Tel.: +39 0332 785202.
rock fracturing (Prost, 1994; Keller & Pinter, 1996). The
E-mail address: (G. Jordan). basis of morphotectonic lineament analysis is that under
Present affiliation: Vishay Electronic GmbH, Selb, Germany. certain conditions periodicity and spatial pattern of
0034-4257/$ - see front matter D 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
32 G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38

fractures are reflected by the associated geomorphologic shear model with left-lateral shear sense, NW–SE-facing
features. large slopes in the north and south are parallel to the
Analysis of periodicities and spatial pattern of morpho- principal displacement zone (PDZ) (Fig. 1B), N–S running
tectonic lineaments is not a trivial task. Autocorrelation, valleys follow extensional faults and NW–SE running slope
variogram and Fourier analysis have been used to study edges correspond to antithetic shears (Dudko, 1999; Jordan,
periodicities in digital terrain models (Harrison & Lo, 1996; 2003) (Fig. 1B). These three major directions were also
Jordan, 2003). Problems for these methods emerge from the identified by digital morphotectonic analysis (Jordan &
fact that valleys often curve and there are confluences down Csillag, 2001; Jordan et al., 2003).
valley and that ridge height and spacing may vary (Evans, The objective of the paper is to investigate spatial
1972). In addition, these methods are insensitive to the periodicity and pattern of the N–S oriented lineaments
spatial heterogeneity; that is, they cannot capture a linea- identified in the DEM of the Káli Basin by means of wavelet
ment pattern if it is present only in a certain location or in a analysis. Results of wavelet analysis are compared to
part of the studied terrain. Spatial pattern of lineaments and traditional methods of autocorrelation analysis, variogram
location of heterogeneities are most commonly studied by analysis, Fourier analysis, lineament density map and visual
lineament density calculation. This method gives the image interpretation, and advantages of wavelet analysis are
location of morphotectonic lineaments but cannot yield discussed.
information on periodicities. Common in all of these
methods is that they need large number of lineaments for
statistical calculations thus these are unable to analyse single 2. Study area
features. Since lineaments are single lines resulting in
impulse signal characteristics, Fourier analysis is unable to The Káli Basin is located in the southwestern part of the
handle them. Wavelet analysis has been developed to Balaton Highland in the Carpatho–Pannonian region in
overcome these shortcomings of other signal processing Hungary (Trunko, 1995; Budai et al., 1999). The southern
methods (Daubechies, 1990), and thus it offers a convenient bordering hills are made up by folded Permian red
means of analysing morphotectonic lineaments in DEMs. sandstone (Fig. 1A). In the central and eastern parts, gently
Previous geological studies have shown that the Káli folded Triassic sediments are exposed. The majority of the
Basin located to the north of Lake Balaton in Hungary was basin is filled with horizontally bedded Tertiary clastic
preformed by Cretaceous compressional tectonics resulting sediments. Late Miocene to Pliocene basaltic volcanics
in NE–SW reverse faults and folds (Budai et al., 1999) (Fig. occur in the northern and western parts of the area (Fig. 1A).
1A). The basin was further shaped by left-lateral strike-slip The western boundary of the basin is marked by a series of
faults in a stress field with N–S oriented shortening axis volcanic cones aligned in a narrow N–S zone. SE-verging
during the Miocene (Dudko, 1997). According to the simple reverse faults in the northern domain and folds in the

Fig. 1. (A) Geology of the study area. Fault lines and fold axes indicated in geological maps are shown. (B) Shaded relief model for the Káli Basin, Hungary.
Light arrow indicates illumination direction. Heavy arrows show N–S lineament zones identified by wavelet analysis. See text for details.
G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38 33

southern part formed during the Cretaceous (Fig. 1A). signals features, and (3) handle binary indicator functions.
Strike-slip faulting dominated in the region during the Fourier analysis has been widely used for frequency
Miocene, and extensional tectonics characterised the latest analysis of images, but location information is lost by
Tertiary (Late Miocene and Pliocene). At present, the area is transforming the signal to the frequency domain. When
seismically inactive. looking at a Fourier transform of a signal, it is impossible to
A DEM of the Káli Basin was obtained from the national tell where a particular event took place. Short-time Fourier
DTA-50 digital grid elevation database, initially produced via Transform (STFT) uses a moving window to obtain location
a third-order spline function to interpolate from an original information (Gabor, 1956); however, due to the fixed
data set of 10-m contour lines. The horizontal resolution of window size, time and frequency information can be
the grid is 5050 m and the vertical resolution is 1 m. obtained with limited precision that is determined by the
Elevations above sea level are given as integers in metres. window size. Fourier analysis also fails to satisfy criteria 3
because it is incapable of analysing indicator functions.
Wavelet analysis is however capable of revealing aspects of
3. Methods data that other signal analysis techniques miss, such as
breakdown points, discontinuities and self-similarity (Mal-
3.1. Extraction of lineaments from DEM lat, 1989; Lee & Yamamoto, 1994). In general, signals with
sharp changes can be better analysed with an irregular
Two lineament extraction procedures were applied in this wavelet than with a smooth sinusoid. Local features can be
study: (1) interactive visual lineament interpretation of described better with wavelets that have local extent.
terrain models and (2) an automatic procedure using digital Continuous wavelet transform (CWT) used in this study
drainage network extraction to identify valley and ridge- is defined as the sum over all time of the signal multiplied
lines. Eight shaded relief models were calculated at an by scaled, shifted versions of the wavelet function w:
azimuth interval of 458 and constant insolation inclination Z
of 508, using Lambertian reflection method and six-time C ðscale; positionÞ ¼ f ðt Þwðscale; position; t Þdt
vertical exaggeration. For the analysis of flat basin areas, a
20 times vertical exaggeration was applied. Lineaments The results of the CWT are many wavelet coefficients C,
represented by boundaries between light and dark tones in a which are a function of scale and position. Scaling a wavelet
shaded relief image indicate slope changes. Since locations means stretching it based on the scale factor. Shifting a
of shading change with illumination azimuth and inclina- wavelet function f(t) by k means delaying it as represented
tion, lineament identification was enhanced by the overlay by f(t-k). Wavelet analysis comprises the following simple
of elevation contour map showing the exact location of steps: (1) a selected wavelet function is compared to a
valleys, ridges and slope breaks. Lineaments were manually section at the start of the original signal, (2) wavelet
digited in each model and then the resulting eight lineament coefficient C is calculated that represents how closely
maps were combined into one. Lineaments were also correlated the wavelet is with this section of the signal; the
digitised on screen from slope, aspect, curvature and higher C is, the more the similarity, (3) the wavelet is shifted
directional derivative maps (Jordan & Csillag, 2001, to the right, and steps 1 and 2 are repeated until the whole
2003). Valley lines were defined by digital drainage network signal is covered, and (4) steps 1 through 3 are repeated for
extraction method using the TOPAZ hydrological model all scales (Misit et al., 2001). This procedure results in the C
(Garbrecht & Martz, 1995). All the obtained lineaments coefficients at different scales by different sections of the
were combined into one map by overlay and manual signal. In the C coefficient plot, the x-axis represents
elimination of line replicates. Distribution and relationships position along the signal, the y-axis represents scale, and
among lines were then described by length and orientation grey shade at each x–y point represents the magnitude of the
frequencies calculated for the entire study area or subareas. wavelet coefficient C (see Fig. 4).
A lineament density map was calculated for the N–S In this study, continuous 1D wavelet analysis was
(NF108) lineaments using a 250250 m moving window. performed on the N–S lineaments because visual inspection
Finally, lineaments were extracted from a 1:100,000 DEM of the terrain models and the lineament map suggested
(100100 m resolution) covering half of the Balaton equidistance in this set. The rose diagram showed very little
Highland in order to check if morphological features found angular dispersion in this direction (see Fig. 2A); thus,
in the Káli Basin are also present at a regional scale (Jordan lineaments of NF108 orientation were extracted for further
et al., 2003). analysis. Analysis of lineament density map (see Fig. 2B)
suggested that, despite the strong discontinuity of these
3.2. Wavelet analysis of morphotectonic lineaments lineaments, N-oriented lineaments are found in well-defined
N–S running zones, justifying the extension and connection
From a signal processing point of view, periodicity and of lineaments within these zones. Thus, NF108 lines were
pattern analysis of lineaments requires a method that can: rotated to N08 around their centre point and were extended
(1) analyse signal frequency, (2) capture the location of to the upper and lower map boundaries. This resulted in
34 G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38

Fig. 2. (A) Lineament map. Black lines are line features (valleys, ridges and slope breaks) digitised from the terrain models. Thick light-grey lines show fracture
lines shown in geological maps. Thick dark-grey lines show fracture lines recognised by other studies. Inset: rose diagram of lineaments. (B) Lineament density
map for N–S (NF108) lineaments. Light tones indicate higher densities. Topographic contours are also shown. Heavy and light arrows show location and width
of lineament zones calculated by wavelet analysis, respectively.

parallel running N-oriented lines with alternating densities, a horizontal plane with three-pixel wide channel lines
much similar to a bar code. This dimageT was then sampled carved into it. The three pixel-wide drainage lines were
along a perpendicular E–W line and a binary indicator then smoothed with a 33 average filter. This resulted in the
function was created so that values 1 and 0 were assigned to widening of the deep canyons into valleys with smoothly
the line intersection and background points, respectively. curving sides (Jordan, 2003). The resulting valley network
Instead of numerical processing, all these calculations were had uniform depth and it was used for analysis of periodicity
performed by means of basic vector analysis calculations. by means of autocorrelation, Fourier and directional vario-
The resulting binary indicator function was used for wavelet gram analysis.
analysis. The continuous wavelet analysis used the Mexican
hat wavelet transform in this study (Misit et al., 2001).
Wavelet analysis was performed with MATLABR Wavelet 4. Results and discussion
Toolbox in a few seconds of processing time.
4.1. Lineament extraction and verification
3.3. Other methods for morphotectonic lineament analysis
According to the rose diagram of lineaments (Fig. 2A),
Autocorrelation and Fourier analyses reveal lineation three major orientations characterise the morphology of the
(anisotropy) and periodicity of landscape due to faulting or study area: (1) NE–SW, (2) NW–SE and (3) N–S. Valleys,
folding. The autocorrelation property can also be studied by ridgelines and slope breaks corresponding to these three
calculating semivariograms in different directions (Curran, directions crosscut the entire study area indicating a regional
1988). In order to overcome the problem of converging origin of these features. Extracted lineaments also run across
ridges of alternating height, analysis in this study was various lithologies and are parallel to the known tectonic
limited only to valley lines defined by the TOPAZ digital lines of the area (Fig. 1A). Among the three sets of
drainage network extraction method. A binary image of the lineaments, the N–S oriented set contains the shortest lines
extracted channel network was used to create an artificial on average and it has very little directional dispersion (Fig.
elevation model of valleys (Jordan, 2003). In order to 2A). This set is most apparent in the western part of the
increase signal width, channel lines were widened with study area. Slope edges corresponding to the N–S linea-
mathematical morphology dilatation using a 33 structuring ments are sharp (Fig. 1B).
element (Gonzalez & Woods, 1993). Background pixels Verification of the lineament map was made by
were assigned zero while channel pixels received a constant comparison with other data. Lineaments extracted from
elevation value. In this way a DEM was obtained depicting the gravity map using digital edge detection methods
G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38 35

(Vertesy & Kiss, 1995) coincide with lineaments identified DEM and these can be followed far beyond the study area
by the terrain modelling in this study. Previous studies in the (Jordan et al., 2003).
Káli Basin (e.g., Nemeth & Martin, 1999) have recognized
N–S orientations of volcanic structures such as basalt dykes 4.2. Spatial analysis of lineaments with traditional methods
associated with faults (Fig. 2A). Digitised lineament maps
of two remotely sensed image analysis studies using aerial The lineament density map (Fig. 2B) calculated for the
photographs (Csillag, 1989) and satellite images (Marsi & N–S oriented lineaments shows that linear morphological
Sikhegyi, 1985) also show a fair correspondence with the features in this direction are the most frequent in a few N–S
DEM-based lineament map. The major lines in the three zones. These zones are more or less equidistant from each
principal directions are all present in the regional-scale other and they are found in the western part of the basin

Fig. 3. (A) Directional second derivative image in E–W direction. Image is smoothed with 33 moving average kernel to improve visual interpretability.
Arrows emphasise N–S lineation. (B) Autocorrelation analysis of the DEM. Contour lines and grey scales show correlation values. Positive values are
emphasised with darker tones. R=0.3 and r=0.4 contour lines are outlined with white. White arrow indicates NE–SW anisotropy direction. (C) Periodogram of
the channel network. (D) Variograms of the channel network in the E–W, NE–SW and NW–SE directions shown by dotted line, light- and dark-grey lines,
respectively. Arrows and figures indicate periodicity in the E–W direction.
36 G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38

only. The exact location of these zones is hard to identify with about 3000 m separation on average. For comparison,
with this method and thus their spacing cannot be measured this type of pattern is absent from the variograms
accurately (Fig. 2B). constructed for the original elevation model (Jordan,
Second-order directional derivatives were calculated by 2003). Although directional variograms could capture
convolution filtering in the four principal compass direc- periodicities of the N–S lineaments, it could not show
tions and resulting grey-scale maps were stretched and location and spatial asymmetry of associated lineaments
displayed. Second-order derivatives in the horizontal direc- suggested by the lineament density and second-order
tion revealed prominent N–S linear features shown in Fig. directional derivative maps.
3A. It is interesting that these features are present only in the
western half of the image. 4.3. Spatial analysis of lineaments with wavelet analysis
Autocorrelation analysis was performed after extraction
of a linear trend and subsequent 55 average smoothing of Result of the wavelet analysis performed on the E–W
the DEM in order to study lineation (anisotropy) and profile for the N–S lineaments is shown in Fig. 4A. The
periodicity due to faulting or folding (Jordan, 2003). series of small features at small scales along the x-axis of the
Autocorrelation analysis for the whole area and the drain- coefficient plot are due to random noise in the signal. The
age-based artificial DEM both showed that NE–SW large maximum on the top corresponds to the half period of
morphological features are the most prominent causing the profile size of the map. More interesting are the four
anisotropy with NE–SW lineation (Fig. 3B). However, local maxima in the wavelet coefficient plot (Fig. 4A).
autocorrelation analyses failed to show periodicities of These are approximately equidistantly located (2100, 2800
lineaments (Jordan, 2003; Jordan & Csillag, 2003). and 2200 m, respectively) at distances of 700, 2800, 5600
Fourier analysis was carried out for the original DEM and 7800 m from the western map boundary. This shows
and for the drainage-based artificial DEM. The results of the that high density of N–S lineaments are found in well-
analysis for the drainage network are shown in the defined zones that are located at regular distances from each
periodogram in Fig. 3C. Although the analysis reveals that other. The gained separation distances correspond well to
the large-scale elements are by far the most important since the approximately 3000 m periodicity obtained by vario-
the spectrum declines rapidly as scale decreases and these gram analysis. If we plot the location of these zones on the
features have a clear orientation in the NE–SW direction, it shaded relief (Fig. 1B) and lineament density (Fig. 2B)
failed to identify periodicity in the studied DEM. This is due maps a good correspondence with morphology and results
to that the previously identified zones of morphological of lineament analysis is found.
lineaments are discontinuous and Fourier analysis cannot Unlike variogram analysis, the wavelet coefficient plot
capture the location of single signal features. Fourier shows that zones of N–S lineaments are found in the
analysis was not performed on the binary lineament map, western half of the study area only. This was confirmed by
because Fourier methods cannot analyse binary indicator the visual inspection of directional derivatives map (Fig.
function. 3A) and by the lineament density map (Fig. 2B). The
Variograms in the E–W, NE–SW and NW–SE directions identified local maxima (Fig. 4B) are all found at the same
were constructed for the drainage-based artificial DEM (Fig. wavelet scale showing that the lineament zones have
3D). The variogram in the E–W direction displays a periodic approximately the same width of 1000 m. When this width
shape, suggesting that the N–S running valleys are periodic is plotted over the lineament density map a good agreement

Fig. 4. (A) Wavelet coefficient plot for the N–S (NF108) lineaments. Solid crosses indicate local maxima. (B) Three-dimensional display of the wavelet
coefficient plot to emphasise local maxima indicated by arrows. Shading according to wavelet coefficients. See text for details.
G. Jordan, B. Schott / Remote Sensing of Environment 94 (2005) 31–38 37

among the widths of the lineament zones obtained by the by wavelet analysis is in agreement with the tectonic model
two methods is seen (Fig. 2B). of the area (Dudko, 1999).

5. Conclusions References

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