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3 просмотров13 страницIn the course of a mineral explo•-ation sponsored by the United Nations Development
Programme in two selected zones of Guatemala, a stream sediment reconnaissance was
carried out, and graphical methods of interpretation were attempted in the search for a
simplified statistical treatment of about 25,000 geochemical result

Sep 12, 2019

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In the course of a mineral explo•-ation sponsored by the United Nations Development
Programme in two selected zones of Guatemala, a stream sediment reconnaissance was
carried out, and graphical methods of interpretation were attempted in the search for a
simplified statistical treatment of about 25,000 geochemical result

© All Rights Reserved

0 оценок0% нашли этот документ полезным (0 голосов)

3 просмотров13 страницIn the course of a mineral explo•-ation sponsored by the United Nations Development
Programme in two selected zones of Guatemala, a stream sediment reconnaissance was
carried out, and graphical methods of interpretation were attempted in the search for a
simplified statistical treatment of about 25,000 geochemical result

© All Rights Reserved

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A SimplifiedStatisticalTreatmentof GeochemicalData

by GraphicalRepresentation

CLAUDE LEPELTIER

Abstract

Inthecourse

ofamineral

explo•-ation

sponsored

bytheUnited

Nations

Development

Programmein two selectedzonesof Guatemala,a streamsedimentreconnaissance was

carriedout, and graphicalmethodsof interpretationwere attemptedin the searchfor a

simplifiedstatisticaltreatmentof about 25,000 geochemical results. The data were

groupedby drainageandlithological units,andthe frequency distributions

of the abun-

danceof Cu, Pb, Zn andMo werestudiedin the form of cumulative

frequencycurves.

The four elementsappearto be approximatelylognormallydistributed.Background,

coefficients

of deviationandthreshold

levelsweregraphically

estimated.Examplesare

givenof simpleandcomplexpopulations.Mineral associations

were studiedby correla-

tion diagrams.

PAGE encountered but rather more subtle features not so

Introduction ................................. 538

easyto pinpointand interpret.

Difficultyof the statisticalapproachin the caseof 539 The interpretationphaseof the surveywas char-

stream sedimentsurvey ..................... 539

acterizedby two essentialfeatures:the great amount

Adjustmentto a lognormaldistribution......... 539

Definitions ................................. 539 of data to be analyzedand the lack of precisionof

these data.

Constructionof the cumulativefrequencycurve 542

Comparisonwith histograms .................. 543 Sampling and analytical methodsmust sacrifice

Informationgiven by cumulativefrequencycurves 544 precisionfor speeddue to the nature of geochemical

Background ................................ 544 prospecting,and the first consequenceof .this fact

Deviation .................................. 544 is that an isolatedresult has little meaning in geo-

Threshold .................................. 544 chemistry. It must be part of a population as

Examples .................................. 545 numerousand homogeneous as possible. Indeed in

Advantagesof cumulativefrequencycurves .... 546 all kindsof phenomena, individualinaccuracies shade

The coefficients of deviation ................... 546

off progressivelywhen observationis extendedto

Correlation diagrams ......................... 548

Conclusion .................................. 550 larger and larger populations.

References ................................... 550 The first phaseof geochemical interpretationis to

condenselarge massesof numerical data and ex-

Introduction tract from them the essential information. The most

objectiveand reliableway to do it (and sometimes

Ti•, United Nations Mineral Exploration Pro- the only one) is statistically. Large sets of num-

grammein Guatemalarelied heavilyon geochemical bers, cumbersomeand difficult to interpret, may be

prospecting. During one year (1967) 60 percent reducedto a useful form by the use of descriptive

of the total Projectareawas coveredsystematicallystatistics.This is bestdoneby the graphicalrepre-

by a geochemicalreconnaissance carried out in the sentationof the frequencydistributionof a given

drainagesystems. Nine thousandstream sediment set of data; then the averagevalue, an expression

samples were collected over about 12,000 km2 of the degreeof variation around the average,and

(roundedfigures). All the sampleswere analyzed the limit above which the anomalies start are im-

for copper and zinc, and the total number thinned mediatelyand preciselydeterminedas well as the

out to approximately4,000 before being run for existenceof one or severalpopulations in the sur-

lead and molybder/um.Finally about25,000 geo- veyed area.

chemicalresultswere availablefor compilationand This treatmentof the data alsosimplifies

the com-

interpretation.As they accumulated, it becameap- parisonof the geochemicalbehaviorof an element

parent that high-contrastanomalieswhich are obvi- in various geologicalsurroundingsor of several

• This article is publishedwith the authorization of the elementsin the samelithologicalunit.

United Nations. The opinionsexpressed

are not necessarily I am gratefulto Mr. Henry H. Meyer,Project

endorsedby this Organization. Manager of the Guatemalaand E1 Salvador Mineral

538

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICAL DATA 539

rocks,and others(Coulomb,1959;

technicalcriticismand much helpful discussion. Cousins,1956).

In all theseexamples,the characterstudiedfol-

Difficulty of Statistical Approach in Stream lows the lognormallaw, which is probablymore

Sediment Surveys common than the normal one.

a great quantity of data be treated and that these

law fits very well in the caseof low-gradedeposits

data be homogeneous. like gold but for high-gradedeposits,iron for in-

stance,the experimentaldistributionsare generally

In drainagereconnaissance surveys,the first con- negativelyskexved because of the limitationtowards

dition is easily filled but not the second. As a

the high values. G. Matheron gives a thermo-

matter of fact, the importanceof samplingtechnique

dynamicinterpretationof the proportionaleffectin

is sometimesoverlookedin this type of prospecting.

the caseof ore depositsand relatesit to the Mass

But even if given the appropriate attention, too

Action Law (Matheron, 1962). To the extent in

many typesof rivers and too many lithologicalunits

which geochemicalanomaliesare extrapolationsof

are generally sampledto result in a homogeneous

ore depositsthis theoryshouldapplyto geochemical

collectionof samples. The best way to limit the

prospecting.

inconvenience of the heterogeneityof the samples

(particularly pH, organiccontentand grain size) is

to splitthe surveyareainto drainagesand lithological Constructionof the CumulativeFrequencyCurve

units, when possible,and to make the statistical A lognormaldistributioncurve is definedby two

interpretationfor each of them separately. How- parameters:one dependenton the mean value, and

ever, even if this is done, the same degree of pre- the otherdependent on the characterof value-distri-

cision cannot be achieved as in the case of a soil bution. This latter parameteris a measureof the

survey where good homogeneityis possible. range of distributionof values,that is whether the

distributioncoversa wide or narrow range of values.

Adjustment to a Lognormal Distribution The two parameterscan be determinedgraphically

as will be explainedon following pages. For prac-

Definitions

tical purposes,we work on cumulative frequency

When dealing with a large mass of geochemical curves,and their constructionshall be explainedby

data, the first stepis to find what sort of distribution meansof a concreteexample.

pattern best fits the various sets of observations. The various steps of this constructionare the

And, thus far, the lognormal distributionpattern following:

appearsto be the one most applicableto the results

of most geochemicalsurveys (Ahrens, 1957). (a) Selectionof a preciseset of data ("popula-

In geochemical prospecting,we study the content tion") as large and homogeneous as possible.

of trace elements in various natural materials, and (b) Grouping of the valuesinto an adequatenum-

ber of classes.

to say that the values are lognormallydistributed

means that the logarithms of these values are dis- (c) Calculating the frequencyiof occurrence in

tributed following a normal law (or Gauss' law) each class and plotting it against the class limits;

well known as the bell-shapedcurve (Monjallon, this gives a diagram calledthe "histogram."

1963). (d) Smoothing the histogram to get the fre-

quency curve.

Many natural or economic phenomena can be

expressedby a value varying between zero and (e) Plotting the cumulatedfrequenciesas ordi-

infinity, representedby a skeweddistributioncurve. nates gives the cumulativefrequencycurve, which

If, instead of the actual value of the variable itself, is the integral of the frequencycurve.

we plot its logarithm in abscissae,the frequency (f) By replacing the arithmetic ordinate scale

curve takes a symmetrical,bell-shapedform, typical with a probability scale the cumulative frequency

of the normal distribution. This happenswhen a curve is representedby .one or more straight lines.

phenomenonis subjectto a proportionaleffect,that Examplesof lognormalfrequencycurvesare shown

is to saywhenindependentinitial causesof variations in Figure 1.

of the studiedvalue take effectin a multiplicative Somebriefcomments

on the differentstepsfollow:

way. It is the case,for instance,for the distribution

of trace elementsin rocks, for the area of the dif- (a) The larger the populationto be analyzed,the

ferent countries of the world, for the income of morepreciseand reliablethe results. If necessary,

individuals

in a country,for the grainsizein samples as few as 50 valuesmay be treatedstatistically

but

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

54O CL/I UDE LEPELTIER

Frequency

,% Frequency,%

Value Value

Arithmetic scale Logarithmic

scale

Cumulated

frequency

•.

Cumulated

frequency

• Q 99.99

,,

Logarithmicscale Lol•arithmic

scale

of points (n) necessaryto constructa correctline;

the analysisis meaningful. the range of distributionof the values (R), ex-

(b) A correctgroupingof the valuesis mandatory pressedas the ratio of the highest to the lowest

if someprecisionis to be achievedin the statistical value of the population;and the width of the classes

interpretation;too few classeswill result in shading expressedlogarithmically(log. int.) which has to

out important featuresof the curve; too many in be selectedin functionof the two first parameters.

losing significant details amidst a cloud of erratic Thesethreevariablesare linked by the relation:

ones. The results are distributed in classes, the

modulusof whichshouldbe proportional to the pre- log R

log. int. -

cisionof the analyses:the moreprecisethe analyses,

the smaller the modulus. The logarithmicinterval

must be adapted to the variation amplitudeof the In mostof the casesR variesfrom 6 to 300 (experi-

valuesand to the precisionof the analyticalmethods mental average values), then, with (n) varying

(Miesh, 1967). from 10 to 20, log R from 0.78 to 2.48, the extreme

In statistics,workingwith 15 to 25 intervals(or values for the logarithmic interval will be:

classes) is recommended. As a rule, the width of 0.78

a class,expressedlogarithmically,mustbe kept equal log. int. - - 0.039

20

to or smallerthan half of standarddeviation(Shaw,

1964). 2.48

log. int. - - O.25

For geochemical purposes,it is convenientto work 10

with 10 to 20 points on the cumulativefrequency

line, that is to say with 9 to 19 intervals or classes. The 0.10 was selectedas the best suitedlogarithmic

There are three variables to consider: the number interval for the classes because it suits most distri-

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICAL DATA 541

gooddefinitionof the curve. In caseof very reduced skippedand the cumulativefrequencydirectly con-

dispersion of the values around the mean, it may structed. However, note here an advantageof the

be necessaryto use 0.05, and if the dispersionis histogram: it clearly illustrates the effect of the

specially large, 0.2 will be chosen. When the sensitivityof the analyticalmethodand more pre-

logarithmicinterval is selected,it is easyto calculate ciselythe bias broughtto the low valuesby the use

a table giving the class limits in ppm. The only of colorimetric scales of standards. As a matter of

precautionis to avoid starting with a round value fact, experience shows that there is an inevitable

so that no analyticalresultswill fall on the limit of concentrationof the readings,whoeverthe analyst,

two classes. The most useful and commonlyem- on the valuesactuallyrepresented in the colorimetric

ployedin geochemical work is the 0.1 log. int. classs scale. For instance,in the caseof copper,the lower

table, a part of which is given below: part of the standardcolorimetricscale reads 0,2,4,7

ß . . ppm. Usually this results in an excessof 2,

classlimit (log) .. 0.07, 0.17, 0.27, 0.37, 0.47, 0.57

4 and 7 values,and a conspicuous lack of 1, 3, 5

classlimit (ppm) . 1.17, 1.48, 1.86,2.34, 2.95, 3.72 ppm values. This is of importance for a correct

It can be extended in both directions as far as constructionof the frequencycurve, and the raw

necessary. valuesmust often be correctedby extrapolatingthe

(c-d) After selectingthe class table, the values general shapeof the curve.

are groupedand the frequencycalculatedfor each (e-f) By plotting the cumulated frequenciesas

class (in percentage); then the frequenciesare ordinatesinsteadof the frequencies,one obtainsthe

plotted against the class limits (the latter being integral curve of the preceding. It has the form of

logarithmicallycalculated,ordinary arithmetic-arith- a straightline whenusingthe appropriategraphpaper

metic paper must be used), giving a histogram (probability-log), and it is the one used in geo-

which is smoothedto a frequencycurve. But histo- chemicalpresentationand interpretation of the re-

grams are often misleading,being stronglyaffected sults. Then two questionshave to be answered:

by slight changesin class intervals, and frequency where to start accumulatingthe frequencies,and

curves are difficult to draw and handle: for instance, where to plot the cumulatedfrequencies ?

it is necessaryto determinethe inflexion points of As for the first point, the normal procedurefol-

the curve in order to evaluate the standard deviation. lowed by many authorsis to start cumulatingthe

5o

5

2.5

0,5

O.X

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

542 CL•IUDE LEPELTIER

Figure3. Confidence

limits(Pl, P2}=t 0.05probobllity

level- againstthe lower classlimits. Using the classcenter

will entailan error of excesson the centraltendency

Cumulative parameters(backgroundand threshold) but not on

Frequency

inO/o Number

of the dispersionparameter(coefficientof deviation).

This error, or difference,varies with the type of

samples classesused and is easily calculated (6% for the

0.05 logarithmicclassinterval,12% for the 0.1 log.

int. and 26% for the 0.2 log. int.). If the class

limit is used,curvesconstructed from differentlog.

int. classescan be directly comparedwithout cor-

rection.

Let us take a concreteexample: the distribution

of Zn in the quaternaryalluvial depositsof Block I

(Fig. 2). There are 989 resultsrangingfrom 10

to 230 ppm.

230

population:N-- 989 range:R- - 23

10

150 above'

log.

int. log

n

R 1.36

14

= 0.097

4OO

A 0.1 log. interval will give 14 intervals,which is

5OO

acceptable. Usually, the histogram-frequency curve

step is skippedand the cumulativefrequencydia-

gram directlyconstructed.

2 000

In Figure 2, the points fit fairly well along a

5OOO straight line, suggestinga lognormaldistributionof

10 000

zinc in the alluvial deposits. Actually, the points

never fit the line exactly,but this doesnot matter

provided they stay in a channeldelimited by the

Source:

A. t ie•zou,

Initiatiou

pratique

i laslatistiwe,

confidencelimits usually taken at the 5% prob-

Gauthief

Villars,Parrs,1961. ability level. This confidenceinterval has been

drawn on Figure 2 by usinga graph (Fig. 3), which

frequenciesfrom the lowest values toward the high- avoids fastidiouscalculationand givesa fairly good

est (Fig. 1) (Hubaux, 1961; Termant and White, precision for the cumulativefrequencyvalues be-

1959). However, one has to considera property tween 5% and 95%. The width of the confidence

of the probabilityscaleused as ordinates:the values channel is inversely proportionalto the importance

zero and 100% are rejectedat the infinite; it does of the population considered: the bigger the popula-

tion, the narrower the confidence interval. To

not matter for zero becausezero% never occurs,

but in each case the last cumulatedfrequencyis check that a distribution fits a lognormal pattern,

100%, and this value is impossibleto plot, lost one shoulduse the Pearson'stest (Rodionov,1965;

for the curve. Then consideringthe lack of pre- Vistelius, 1960), but this longer operation is gen-

cision in the low values and the importanceof the erally not warranted in this type of interpretation

high ones for the determination of the threshold and, for practical purposes,the graphical control

level, I considerit much better to cumu, late the fre- describedabove is satisfactory.

quenciesfrom the hi#hestto the lowestvalues; thus,

Comparison with Histograms

the 100% will correspondto the lowest classand be

eliminated. For comparisonpurposesthe cumulativefrequency

As for the secondpoint, the curve being an in- curve for Cu in the Motagua drainage (Fig. 2)

tegral one, the ordinates must be plotted at class was also constructed, then, in Figure 4, the cor-

limits and not at class center; then, since one respondinghistogramsand frequencycurvesfor Cu

cumulatesthe frequenciesfrom the highest values and Zn. Figures 2 and 4 presentthe samedata in

to the lowest,cumulatedfrequenciesare to be plotted two different ways. Before enumeratingand com-

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

A SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICALDATA 543

I 1.5 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 O I0 15 • 30 40 50 GO70-80 100 150 200 300

_ '•.

ß

.- I I tz.

- I

:'"'•'• • I•. • I•. • I

.......

,,

.....

19l 1.• 1,• 1,t l,• l,• ],1l 4.1 i• LII 9.l 11.1 14,8 18.f l•,4 19,• •1.l 1.81 1.9 14,1•,•

tion over the latter, an interesting feature of the Frequency Curves

histogram should be mentioned: in the case of

colorimetricdeterminationsmade in the lower range

The main purposein constructing the cumulative

of sensitivityof the analyticalmethod,the histogram

frequency curve for a given population

is to check

if it fits a lognormaldistribution,and if it does,to

showsclearly the bias introducedin the readingsby

the humanfactor and by the accuracyand sensitivity

estimategraphically its basicparameters:

background

limits of the method. This effect is illustrated for (b), coefficients

of deviation(s, s', s") and threshold

level (t).

copper in Figure 4, where the classesincluding a

colorimetric standard are shaded and the value of (b) gives an idea of the averageconcentration

the standarditself is given as a larger figure (1, 2, level of the elementsin a given surrounding.

4... ppm); the cumulationof the frequencyreduces (s) expressesthe scatterof the valuesaround

this effect,particularlyif it is startedfrom the high (b): it corresponds

to the spreadof the valuesand

values,but it may be necessaryto bring somecoro their range,from the lowestto the highest.

rections to the low value frequenciesin order to (t) is a complexnotionwhich might be termed

constructa precise distributioncurve. "conditional": statisticallyit dependson the prob-

ComparingFigures 2 and 4, one seesimmediately ability level chosen;geologically,

and for practical

ihat it is easierto compare

two straightlinesthan purposes,

it is supposed

to be the upperlimit of the

two overlappingbell-shapedcurves; many more fluctuationsof (b): it dependson (b) and (s).

populationscan be presentedon the same diagram The valuesequalto or higherthan (t) are considered

by using cumulativefrequencycurves than by using anomalous.

histograms. Cumulative frequency curves are of Adjustmentto the lognormallaw is generallythe

easier constructionand more precisethan ordinary casewhensoil samplesare considered:in the drain-

frequencycurves; it is simpler to draw a line that age reconnaissance

surveyin Guatemala,we found

fits a set of pointsthan to draw a bell-shapedcurve that trace element contents in stream sediments

with inflexionpoints. appearalso to be lognormallydistributed.

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

544 CLAUDE LEPELTtER

slopeof the line. We call it the geometricdeviation

A straight line denotesa single populationlog-

(s'); it has no dimension: it is a factor obtained

normally distributed. In this simplecase,the back-

by dividing the value read in .4 by the value read

ground value (b) is given by the intersectionof inO:

the line with the 50% ordinate. In the examples

given in Figure 2, we have: 21

s' - - 2.28

9.2

backgroundvalue for copper .. b (Cu) --9.2 ppm

backgroundvalue for zinc .... b (Zn) = 48 ppm Then multiplyingor dividingthe backgroundvalue

Of course, these values must be rounded off; it by the geometricdeviationwill give the upper and

will be illusoryto imply a precisionfar out of reach lower limits of a range including68% of the popula-

of the analyticalmethods. In the illustratedexample, tion (from b-s to b+s, or A'A on the figure).

10 and 50 ppm are taken as reasonablygood ap- Multiplying or dividing by the square of the geo-

proximations of the background levels. metric deviationgivesa range includingabout95%

In the case of a perfect frequency distribution of the values( b -- 2s to b + 2s).

curve, the backgroundthus calculatedcorresponds Becauseall the reasoningis made on logarithms,

to the mode (most frequent) and median (50% of it is also necessaryto expressthe deviationby a

the valuesabove,50% below it) values,and is the logarithm: the coefficientof deviantion(s) is the

geometricmeanof the results. This geometricmean logarithm(base10) of the geometricdeviation(s').

is a more significantvalue that the arithmetic mean. s' = 2.28

It is also a more stable statistic, less subject to

s = logs • = 0.36

changewith the additionof new data and lessaffected

by high values. It will be seen later that it might be interesting

to consider a third deviation index: the relative

Deviation

deviation (s") sometimescalled coefficientof vari-

Before explaininghow to determinegraphically ation. It is expressedas a percentage:

the deviationcoefficient,an essentialproperty of the $

curve) mustbe recalledhere:

(b) beingthe medianvalueand (s) the standard 0.36

deviation then: s" = 100 - 3.9%

9.2

and b + s

95.44% of the populationfalls bet•veenb- 2s After the backgroundand the coefficientof devi-

and b + 2s ation,the third importantparameteris the threshold

99.74% of the populationfalls bet•veenb- 3s level (t), whichis a functionof the two former. It

and b + 3s has been seen that in the case of symmetricaldis-

tribution (either normalor lognormal)95% of the

This holds true in the case of the lognormaldis- individual values fall between b + 2s and b- 2s,

tribution since the logarithms of the values are that is to say that only 2.5% of the population

normallydistributed. Then, roundingoff the above- exceedsthe upper limit b + 2s. This upper limit

mentionedpercentages and taking (b) as the back- is conventionally taken as the thresholdlevel (t)

ground,we can say that 68% of the populationfalls above which the values are considered as anomalies:

between b-s and b-I-s or that 32% is outside

theselimits. The distributioncurve beingsymetrical log t = (log b) + 2s

around an axis of abscissa(b) (Fig. 4), 16% of or to avoid usinglogarithms:

the valueswill fall aboveb -I- s and 16% belowb -- s.

In Figure 2, the values b+s and b-s will be t = b Xs '2

obtainedby projectingthe intersectionof the dis- t = 9.2 X 5.2 = 47.8 ppm

tribution line with the ordinates 16 and 84% on

the abscissaaxis. Working with logarithms, one Practically,(t) as well as (b), is read directly

has to consider the ratios and not the absolute values on the graph as the abscissaof the intersectionof

thus established.Taking the sameexampleof Cu the distribution line with the 2.5% ordinate. In

the pointsP (at the 16% this exampleone reads47 ppm, and the slightdif-

(Fig. 2), onedetermines

expression ference is due to the rounding off of the exact

ordinate)and.4. 0.4 is the geometrical

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

A SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICAL DATA 545

ordinate2.28% to 2.5%. This showsthe importance b. a mixture of two populationsin a given set of

of the deviation in the estimationof the threshold; data; and

two populationsmay havethe samebackgroundbut, c. an excessof low valuesin the consideredpopu-

nevertheless,different thresholds if their coefficients lation.

of deviationare different. In Figure 2, the threshold

is five timesthe background

for Cu and only 2.7 These three casesare representedgraphicallyin

times for Zn. Figures 5. They correspondto real distributions

In all the foregoing, I have consideredthe sim- encounetredin the Guatemalandrainagesurvey and

plest case: a singlelognormalpopulation,the dia- appear as solid lines with slopebreaks on the dia-

grammatic expressionof which is a straight line. gram. Some indications are given below showing

However, when constructingcumulativefrequency how to interpret suchlines.

curves, a broken line is frequentlyobtainedsug- Copper Distribution (in a lithologicalunit). The

gesting that the set of data consideredconsistsof a cumulativefrequencyline (Fig. 5) shows a break

complexpopulationor of different ones. Whenever to a flatter slope at the 30% level. This is the

possiblein practice,the interpretationis made on case when there is an excessof high values in the

sets of data selected so as not to include more than population;the histogramwill give a frequencycurve

two different distributions; for instance, a litho- skewed to the right, in the direction of the high

logicalunit may includetwo typesof mineralization values (positive skewhess). If the populationwas

showingup in soil or sedimentsamples;one repre- lognormallydistributed,the main branch Oat should

sentativeof the normal or backgroundcontent of extend as a straight line in Oz whereas,in this case,

the materialsampled, and the other,a superimposedOx is lifted to Oy whichmeansthat insteadof having

mineralization related to ore. 2.5% of the values30 ppmor greater,thereare 17%

of them. The abscissaof the breaking point, O,

Examples (in this case 18 ppm) indicatesthe limit above

The three main casesof non-homogeneous dis- whichthereis a departurefrom the norm (i.e., from

tribution that are the most likely to occur are, in the lognormaldistribution),an excessof high values.

decreasing frequencyorder: In this case,backgroundand coefficientsof deviation

a. an excess of high values in the considered are calculated with the main branch Oat. The

population; abscissa of the breakingpoint may be conveniently

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

546 CLAUDE LEPELTIER

taken as threshold value if the break occurs above Advantages of Cumulative Frequency Curves

the normalthresholdlevel of 2.5%. If, however, Plotting the distributionof an elementin a selected

the breakoccursbelow2.5% level (at point p for unit as cumulativefrequencycurve on probability

instance) the thresholdshould be taken as usual

graph paper is the easiestand most preciseway to

(abscissa of point P). Positivelybrokendistribu- presenta great amount of data (for instance,pre-

tion linesare the moreinteresting because they in- sentingFigure 5 as histogramsand frequencycurves

dicatean excessover the background mineralization. will result in an overloadedand illegiblediagram).

Molybdenum Distribution(in a lithological

unit). All the characteristicparametersof the distribution

The cumulative distribution line shows two breaks: can be estimated without cumbersome calculations.

first a positive,then a negativeone. Such a graph Comparisonbetweenvarious populationsare easy

is the expressionof a dual distribution,suggesting andcomplexdistributions are clearlyidentified.Fur-

the existenceof two distinctpopulationsin the set thermore,the adjustmentto a lognormaldistribution

of data considered.It givesa double-peaked histo- can be checkedgraphically.

gram. We shall considerhere only the most fre- Comparingthe geochemical featuresof the various

quentcaseof a main "background" populationmixed units of a surveyarea is importantin assessing their

with a smallerone of higher averagevalue, the two mineral potential. This is convenientlydone by

of them beinglognormallydistributed. On the dia- plotting the correspondingdistributionson the same

gram (Fig. 5), branchA corresponds to the main diagram for instance Cu distribution in three or

or normal population, branch B to the anomalous four different drainagesin the case of a stream

population and the central branch A q- B to a mix- sedimentreconnaissance.Distribution heterogenei-

ture of the two. By splitting the data at a value ties will be spotted and the correspondingunits

taken aroundthe middleof A q- B (at 4 ppm for selectedfor further investigations. On a broader

instance),it is possibleto separatethe total popula- scale, the geochemicalbehavior of trace elementsin

tion into two elementaryones appearingas a and a given geologicalenvironmentfrom different coun-

b on the diagram. The generalbackgroundwill be tries or metallogenicprovincescan be readily com-

taken with branch A and the threshold as the abscissa

pared. This is an approachto a betterunderstanding

of the middleof branchA q- B, thoughthe threshold of the distributionlaws of trace elementsin naturally

of populationa may alsobe considered, but we have occurringmaterials.

not enoughexamplesof suchcomplexdistributions

to make definite recommendations,and we lacked The Coefficients of Deviation

computingfacilities to calculatetheoreticaldistribu- A lognormaldistributionis completelydetermined

tions. The coefficients of deviation must be cal-

by two parameters:the geometricmean (b) and

culatedseparatelyfor distributionsa and b. the coefficientof deviation (s). It has been seen

Zinc Distribution (in a drainage unit). The that the absolutedeviation can be expressedas a

negativelybrokenline on Figure 5 is the expression geometricfactor s' or, more commonly,as a logarith-

of an excessof low valuesin an essentially

lognormal mic coefficients. The term "deviation"is preferred

distribution;in this case, the histogramis skewed to "dispersion"which might be more expressive,

to the left, toward theselow values (negativeskew- becausethere is no geneticimplicationin the concept

ness). Provided their proportionis not too high of statisticaldispersionwhereasthere is one in the

(20% or less or instance),they do not interfere notion of geochemicaldispersion; however, many

in the interpretation,which is done on the main peopleuse the term "dispersion"in statisticalinter-

branchof the distributionline in the usual way. pretationof geochemical data.

This excessof low valuesmay be due to the inclu- The coefficientof deviationis a dispersionindex

sionin the populationof a low-background lithologi-

specificfor the distribution of a given element in a

given environment and expresses the degree of

cal unit or, more often, to poor sampling(for in-

homogeneityof this distribution. When rocks are

stance,collectingan important set of sedimentsam-

plesthat are too coarse). considered, a similarityin the coefficientof deviation,

together with similar average values, may indicate

When the resultsdo not fit a lognormaldistribu-

similar geochemicalprocessesin their formation.

tion, an explanationmay generallybe found among

It is possiblethat a given value of s corresponds

these three factors: (1) lack of homogeneityin

to each type of mineralizationin a lithologicalunit.

sampling,(2) complexgeology(imprecisionin the Confirmingthis assumptionwould require very ex-

lithologicalboundaries),and (3) analyticalerrors.

tensivegeological-statisticalstudiesencompassing all

It shouldalsobe kept in mind that someelements

metallogeniccases.

in somesurroundings

may not be lognormallydis- There is also a relationshipbetween the back-

tributed. ground (b) and the coefficientof deviations(s)

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICAL DATA 547

statesthat the dispersionof an elementis inversely in Fig. 6) also decreaseswhen the abundanceof the

proportionalto its abundance. This is expressed element increases.

very clearly by the relativd dispersions" (or rela- The weightedmean valuesof b, s and s" for each

tive deviation), a percentagerelated to b and s as elementhave been calculatedseparatelyfor Blocks

follows: I and II:

The higher the background,the lower the relative Cu Cu8. 0.308. 0.34

3.8 4.2

Pb 6.8 0.32 4.7 Pb 5.8 0.30 5.2

deviation. This is best shown on a log/log correla- Mo 0.38 0.37 97.5 Mo 0.35 0.40 125.

tion diagram by plotting s" as abscissaand b as

ordinate. Figure 6, for instance,showsthe variation

of s"in functionof b in the different lithologicalunits The fact that the absolutedeviationfor Pb is equal

of Blocks I and II, for Cu, Zn, Pb and Mo. The to or slightly lower than that for copper is due to

diagram has been constructedby taking, for each two factors: (1) the sensitivitylimit of the analytical

element, the extreme values for b and s" thus deter- methodfor lead, which entaileda numberof assump-

mining parallelogramsincludingall the individual tions and extrapolationsin the interpretation--de-

values. One seesimmediatelythat there is an in- terminationof b and s, and (2) the existenceof

verse linear relationshipbetween b and s" (which somePb mineralizedzonesin the surveyarea where

is evident from the definition of s") and that the b was high and s low.

All lilholo•icllunits

,=o.

lsJ'1

2o.2

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

548 CLAUDE LEPELTIER

Figure 7. CorrelationdiagramCu/Zn

cu(pp,.) •

III

III • \ ß

Ill / ' x ß

., Ill

Ill , / X , Ill

Ill I " • Ill

Cu :

III ,

Ill

III

,,i

ß.

....

'.A......• •

/'

- Il

•

:-_ .

•

,,,

I II

tll•

Ill

III Jill

III ...............

', III I II

III ; •11

Ill , III

III ill

N1= nI + n3 = 168

variationsof the dispersionof the sameelementin of a relationshipbetweentwo-typesof mineralization

different lithological units which is particularly (only qualitativeand rathervague)may be substi-

noticeablefor copper; the width of each parallelo- tutedby a precisefactor,the coefficient of correla-

gram indicatesthe range of variation of s for each tion p, whichgivesa rigorousmeasureof their de-

element. gree of dependency.In the caseof geochemical

The coefficientof deviation is a very important prospecting, p measures the degreeof dependency of

character of the distribution of an element in a two lognormalvariablesnamelythe tenorsof two

given surrounding;it is probablyrelatedto the type elementsin a samplepopulation(Matheron,1962).

of geochemical dispersion,mechanical or chemical, The coefficient p alwaysfallsbetween-1 and + 1.

and consequently might give an indicationof the p--o meansa complete independence betweenthe

type of anomalyencountered:syngeneticor epi- two elements, p -- --+-1

indicatesa functionalrelation-

genetic. It appearsthat a highercoefficientof devi- ship,director inverse,betweenthem (it is a linear

ation indicatesa preponderantly mechanical disper- relationship betweenthe logarithmsof the tenors).

sion, but this has not been proved. Much remains SimplifiedCalculation of p.--There is a graphical

to be done in this field. way to estimatep, slightlylessprecisebut much

faster than the completestatisticalcalculation:con-

Correlation Diagrams structinga correlationcloudin full log. coordinates

In the caseof a polymetallicmineralization,with (Fig. 7, 8). Each sampleof the population under

two or more elementslognormallydistributed,there study is plottedfollowingits t•vo coordinates: its

is generallya positivecorrelationbetweenthem;for tenor in element •/ and its tenor in element B and

instancebetweenlead and zinc, a samplehigh in Pb the total population appearsas a cloudof points.

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

SIMPLIFIED STATISTICAL TREATMENT OF GEOCHEMICAL DATA 549

Practically, this presentationof the data is very (1) eitherp is equalor near to zero: the elliptical

convenientbecauseit gives a geometric image of cloud has its axes parallel to the coordinate axes

the distribution laws. The axes passing by the and the two variablesare independent,

gravity center (b•, b)•), that is to say by the point (2) or p is clearly different from zero and the

whosecoordinatesare the backgroundvaluesfor the cloud is an ellipsewhoseaxes are inclined relative

two consideredelements,are then drawn. In Figure to the coordinates. The slopeof the main axis has

7, the axes will passthrough the point (bc, = 5.3 the samesign as p (if p > 0 the two elementsvary

ppm, bz, = 75 ppm). The points falling in each in the same direction; if p < 0 the two elements

quadrantare summedup and countedas follows: vary inversely).

N• = numberof pointsin first and third quadrants The correlation cloud is in fact a two dimensional

N•. = numberof pointsin secondand fourth quad- histogram; it is the bestand simplestway to estab-

rants. lish whethera populationis homogeneous or hetero-

geneous:in the first case,the points tend to group

Then Ois givenby the formula: in a singleellipticalcloud; in the second,they split

into 2 or several attraction centers and form several

o= sin[•'N•+Ns

•rN•--N•1 elliptical clouds more or less overlapping. G.

Matheron pointsout that the relation expressedby

p is an expressionof the MassAction Law if p = --+1

Practically,p is never equal to --1 (which would (or of the orderof +0.95) (Matheron,1962); then

be the caseif all the pointswere on a straightline) it is likely that a geologicallybasedchemicalequi-

and the points form an ellipticalcloud. Two cases librium exists between the two elements considered.

may happen: In geochemical prospecting,correlationcoefficients

Figure8. CorreletiondiegramPb/Zn

Pb (i)Pm)

1000•

6

© - I I IIII I II

............... III

'f' i ii

• iI[ I•111.

ilii-: / /

/, ,,,

Iii

I I

,,,

Ill

III

* IXI [ll../ / I ii ii

• /. ; / ' /I

, / • ,,,,,. 111

/

/

- '"'"

I IIIII

Illl•

III "III

III

I llIi III

• _N2

n3=45 • =n2+n4=16 • +N

n4 6

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018

550 CL,ZIUDE LEPELTIER

mentsin natural samples. The correlationdiagram in a complex geochemicalsurrounding,but much

showswhether two elementsare spatially associated more informationcan certainlybe extractedfrom the

and if onemay be usedas a pathfinderfor the other. analytical results by a more thorough, computer-

Let us considertwo examples'the relationshipof oriented, treatment.

Cu/Zn in the drainageof the SuchiateRiver (Fig. The graphicalmethodsdescribedabove have the

7) andthe relationship of Pb/Zn in the Rio Grande great advantageof being quick, cheapand easy to

drainage(Fig. 8). use in the field without any specialmathematical

The first example,in Figure7, is intendedonlyto knowledge. It is a convenientand syntheticway

illustrate the lack of relationshipbetween two types to presenta greatamountof geochemical data,and

of mineralization.The cloudof pointshasno definite I think it might be usefulto any geologistinvolved

shape,but it can be dividedinto three zones' one in geochemical prospecting.

aroundthe intersection point of the axes,including

the majority of the pointswhich are spreadmore UNITED NATIONS MINERAL SURVEY,

or lessequallyamongthefourquadrants;

anelliptical GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA,

one,markedCu, in the rangehigh-Cu/background- January20; March 28,1969

Zn values; and a third one, includingonly a fe•v

REFERENCES

high-Zn/background-Cu

points. Thisshowsthat,in

the Suchiatedrainage,thereis no relationship

what- Ahrens, L. H., 1957, The lognormaldistributionof the

soever between the Cu and Zn mineralization, that elements--a fundamental law of geochemistry: Geochim.

et Cosmochim. Acta, v. 11, no. 4.

the Cu anomalyis moreimportantthan that for Zn Coulomb,R., 1959,Contribution 3,la C•ochimiede l'uranium

and that the two anomalies are well separated dans les granitesintrusifs: Rapport C.E.A. 1173, Centre

d'Etudes Nucleires de Saclay, France.

spatially.All thisis expressed

by the coefficient

of Cousins,C. A., 1956, The value distributionof economic

correlation' minerals with special reference to the Witwatersrand

Gold Reefs: Geol. Soc. South Africa Trans. v. LIX.

p = -0.11 Hubaux,A., 1961,Representation

graphiquedesdistributions

Its low absolutevalue indicatesa nearly complete d'oligo-•l•ments:

Mars 1961.

Ann. Soc.G•ol. Belgique,T. LXXXIV--

independence of the two mineralizations,

with a Termant,C. B., and White, M. L., 1959,Study of the dis-

tendency' (negativevalue). tribution of somegeochemicaldata: ECON.GEOL.,V. 54,

to inverserelationship

p. 1281--1290.

On the contrary,Figure8 showsan exampleof Matheron, G., 1962,Trait• de g•ostatistique

appliqu•e,tome

directrelationship

betweentwo typesof mineraliza- 1: M•moire no. 14 du Bureau de RecherchesG•ologiques

tion. In the Rio Grande drainage,Pb and Zn are et MiniSres, Paris.

associated' the correlation cloud is an elongated Miesh, A. T., 1967,Methodsof computationfor estimating

geochemicalabundance--U. S. Geological Survey Pro-

ellipsewhosemain axis has a 45ø slopeand the fessionalPaper 574-B.

correlationcoefficient

t•--- +0.87. In this drainage, Monjallon, A., 1963, Introduction3. la m•thode statistique:

lead and zinc anomalies will have the same pattern Vuibert, Paris.

Rodionov,D. A., 1965,Distributionfunctionsof the elements

andwill be spatiallyrelated. In similargeological and mineral contentsof igneousrocks: ConsultantBureau,

conditions,

oneelementmaybe usedas a pathfinder New York.

for the other. Shaw, D. M., 1964,Interpretationg•ochimiquedes •l•ments

en trace dans les roches cristallines: Masson et Cie,

Conclusion Paris.

Vistelius,A. B., 1960,The skew frequencydistributionsand

In the Guatemalan geochemical reconnaissance,

the fundamentallaw of the geochemicalprocesses:Journal of

statistical

analysisof the data,althoughelementary, Geol. Jan. 1960.

by Juan M. Garcia

on 02 October 2018