, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 397-419

Variance–Covariance Matrix of the Experimental Variogram: Assessing Variogram Uncertainty

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Abstract

Assessment of the sampling variance of the experimental variogram is an important topic in geostatistics as it gives the uncertainty of the variogram estimates. This assessment, however, is repeatedly overlooked in most applications mainly, perhaps, because a general approach has not been implemented in the most commonly used software packages for variogram analysis. In this paper the authors propose a solution that can be implemented easily in a computer program, and which, subject to certain assumptions, is exact. These assumptions are not very restrictive: second-order stationarity (the process has a finite variance and the variogram has a sill) and, solely for the purpose of evaluating fourth-order moments, a Gaussian distribution for the random function. The approach described here gives the variance–covariance matrix of the experimental variogram, which takes into account not only the correlation among the experiemental values but also the multiple use of data in the variogram computation. Among other applications, standard errors may be attached to the variogram estimates and the variance–covariance matrix may be used for fitting a theoretical model by weighted, or by generalized, least squares. Confidence regions that hold a given confidence level for all the variogram lag estimates simultaneously have been calculated using the Bonferroni method for rectangular intervals, and using the multivariate Gaussian assumption for K-dimensional elliptical intervals (where K is the number of experimental variogram estimates). A general approach for incorporating the uncertainty of the experimental variogram into the uncertainty of the variogram model parameters is also shown. A case study with rainfall data is used to illustrate the proposed approach.