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1569GEOSTATS: philosphical question

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  • Jeff Myers
    Jun 5, 2000
      Richard -

      I share your concern and have been "preaching" about this issue in my short
      courses for almost twenty years. I even devoted a large portion of my
      book on environmental geostatistics to these issues.

      In this age of computers, I have observed a "garbage in, gospel out"
      mentality, where people almost automatically believe what the computer puts
      out. This is unfortunate. What is worse, people frequently use these
      maps as the "gospel" to make decisions, and many of the decisions turn out
      to be wrong. Needless to say, incorrect decisions have severe
      consequences. Miners found that misclassified ore/waste costs millions of
      dollars; environmental regulators worry about unremediated wastes, while
      PRPs/permittees don't want to clean up materials that do not exceed
      regulatory thresholds. Decision errors made due to uncertainties generally
      carry a large cost, whether in monetary or human health terms.

      Computer generated maps, which I sometimes refer to as "Geo-Art" have an
      important place, however. They provide a good visual conceptual model,
      which, in itself, is useful. However, as you and others have pointed out,
      there is a significant level of uncertainty associated with any map. The
      impact of the uncertainties must be evaluated in terms of the potential
      decision error costs to be made from relying on the existing level of
      information contained in the map. Fortunately, a far greater level of
      scrutiny is now being applied to maps than, say, a decade ago. There is
      still a lot of room for improvement, however.

      On a different, and sad note, Dr. Michel David, world-renowned
      geostatistician, died last month after a long illness. Michel's impact on
      the geostatistical community is legendary, and those who knew him will miss
      his insights and enthusiasm. He provided a foundation for geostatistics
      that has benefited us all and for which we should all be grateful. He will
      be sorely missed. God bless.

      Jeff Myers
      Geosciences Manager
      Morrison Knudsen Corporation
      10822 W. Toller Drive
      Littleton, CO 80127
      FON (303) 948-4678
      FAX (303) 948-4010
      email: jeff_myers@...
      website: http://www.gemdqos.com

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