2010[ai-geostats] Re: Who is J. W. Merks???
- Apr 30, 2005Hello people
Thank you for your swift responses, especially on the
weekend. This turned out to be a long reply, so feel
free to read the next paragraph and skip on to the
I think we should be fair to Jan Merks. He got a bee
in his bonnet over an issue which is less than well
explained in the bulk of geostatistics text books,
especially 13 years ago. He tried discussing it with
some geostatisticians and got the usual "how dare you
criticise us" reaction from the mainstream. If you
don't believe me, get hold of the Engineering Mining
Journal and read Danie Krige's response to Merk's
I have never met Jan Merks and issued my invitation to
discussion in the hope that we could learn something
from one another. It was turned down with no opening
for any continuation of debate, even by email.
As a practising mining engineer who has to earn a
living valuing mineral resources, I use what works in
reality and follow (as much as I am capable of) new
theories and practice as they become proven. As Fran
says, every orebody is different and uncertainty is
part of our way of life. The best we can do is
minimise it and quantify what is left, if we can.
There are many weak patches in geostatistical theory.
However, we are not going to fix them by roaming
through Amazon and writing hostile reviews of every
book we can find on the topic. Or by ignoring
opportunities for discussion and debate.
Merks has a very powerful position in Canada, as he
sits on the National and Government committees which
determine standards for sampling design and such like.
He is also, judging by the bulk of his own work, a
very intelligent and persuasive communicator.
And he is not alone. Read, for example, Philip and
Watson's paper in Mathematical Geology in the
mid-1980s. It took me several years to figure out why
their antagonism to geostatistics was so strong.
Finally, after a conversation with a land surveyor in
South Africa, I realised that they did not know that
we cannot see the surfaces we are mapping -- unlike
Geostatistics is not a panacea and (in my opinion) is
not a suitable method for automated mapping. Not till
we patch the weak places, like semi-variogram
modelling, conditional bias and handling non-Normal
data. However, until someone comes along with
something that is as easy to understand, test and
apply I am sticking with it.
I never wrote a response to Merk's article. How can
you take a guy's criticism seriously when he can't
bother to spell your name right?
Isobel (with an o) Clark (without an e)
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