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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 537-546, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-6-537-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
15 Dec 2017
Application of unsupervised pattern recognition approaches for exploration of rare earth elements in Se-Chahun iron ore, central Iran
Mohammadali Sarparandeh and Ardeshir Hezarkhani Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, 9821, Iran
Abstract. The use of efficient methods for data processing has always been of interest to researchers in the field of earth sciences. Pattern recognition techniques are appropriate methods for high-dimensional data such as geochemical data. Evaluation of the geochemical distribution of rare earth elements (REEs) requires the use of such methods. In particular, the multivariate nature of REE data makes them a good target for numerical analysis. The main subject of this paper is application of unsupervised pattern recognition approaches in evaluating geochemical distribution of REEs in the Kiruna type magnetite–apatite deposit of Se-Chahun. For this purpose, 42 bulk lithology samples were collected from the Se-Chahun iron ore deposit. In this study, 14 rare earth elements were measured with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Pattern recognition makes it possible to evaluate the relations between the samples based on all these 14 features, simultaneously. In addition to providing easy solutions, discovery of the hidden information and relations of data samples is the advantage of these methods. Therefore, four clustering methods (unsupervised pattern recognition) – including a modified basic sequential algorithmic scheme (MBSAS), hierarchical (agglomerative) clustering, k-means clustering and self-organizing map (SOM) – were applied and results were evaluated using the silhouette criterion. Samples were clustered in four types. Finally, the results of this study were validated with geological facts and analysis results from, for example, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), ICP-MS and optical mineralogy. The results of the k-means clustering and SOM methods have the best matches with reality, with experimental studies of samples and with field surveys. Since only the rare earth elements are used in this division, a good agreement of the results with lithology is considerable. It is concluded that the combination of the proposed methods and geological studies leads to finding some hidden information, and this approach has the best results compared to using only one of them.

Citation: Sarparandeh, M. and Hezarkhani, A.: Application of unsupervised pattern recognition approaches for exploration of rare earth elements in Se-Chahun iron ore, central Iran, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 537-546, https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-6-537-2017, 2017.
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Short summary
Successful clustering of a dataset which is consistent with geological facts and laboratory and field studies is one of the results of this study. Since only REEs were used in this division, a good agreement of the results with lithology is considerable. Results show that unsupervised pattern recognition helps find some hidden information which would be difficult to obtain in usual ways. In addition, methods presented in this study will enable better interpretation of data.
Successful clustering of a dataset which is consistent with geological facts and laboratory and...
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