Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 457–485 | Cite as

High-order Stochastic Simulation of Complex Spatially Distributed Natural Phenomena

  • Hussein MustaphaEmail author
  • Roussos Dimitrakopoulos
Open Access
Special Issue


Spatially distributed and varying natural phenomena encountered in geoscience and engineering problem solving are typically incompatible with Gaussian models, exhibiting nonlinear spatial patterns and complex, multiple-point connectivity of extreme values. Stochastic simulation of such phenomena is historically founded on second-order spatial statistical approaches, which are limited in their capacity to model complex spatial uncertainty. The newer multiple-point (MP) simulation framework addresses past limits by establishing the concept of a training image, and, arguably, has its own drawbacks. An alternative to current MP approaches is founded upon new high-order measures of spatial complexity, termed “high-order spatial cumulants.” These are combinations of moments of statistical parameters that characterize non-Gaussian random fields and can describe complex spatial information. Stochastic simulation of complex spatial processes is developed based on high-order spatial cumulants in the high-dimensional space of Legendre polynomials. Starting with discrete Legendre polynomials, a set of discrete orthogonal cumulants is introduced as a tool to characterize spatial shapes. Weighted orthonormal Legendre polynomials define the so-called Legendre cumulants that are high-order conditional spatial cumulants inferred from training images and are combined with available sparse data sets. Advantages of the high-order sequential simulation approach developed herein include the absence of any distribution-related assumptions and pre- or post-processing steps. The method is shown to generate realizations of complex spatial patterns, reproduce bimodal data distributions, data variograms, and high-order spatial cumulants of the data. In addition, it is shown that the available hard data dominate the simulation process and have a definitive effect on the simulated realizations, whereas the training images are only used to fill in high-order relations that cannot be inferred from data. Compared to the MP framework, the proposed approach is data-driven and consistently reconstructs the lower-order spatial complexity in the data used, in addition to high order.


Conditional sequential simulation High-order spatial cumulants Legendre polynomials 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.COSMO – Stochastic Mine Planning Laboratory, Department of Mining and Materials EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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