Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 841–868 | Cite as

Revisiting Multi-Gaussian Kriging with the Nataf Transformation or the Bayes’ Rule for the Estimation of Spatial Distributions

  • Gilles BourgaultEmail author


A multivariate probability transformation between random variables, known as the Nataf transformation, is shown to be the appropriate transformation for multi-Gaussian kriging. It assumes a diagonal Jacobian matrix for the transformation of the random variables between the original space and the Gaussian space. This allows writing the probability transformation between the local conditional probability density function in the original space and the local conditional Gaussian probability density function in the Gaussian space as a ratio equal to the ratio of their respective marginal distributions. Under stationarity, the marginal distribution in the original space is modeled from the data histogram. The stationary marginal standard Gaussian distribution is obtained from the normal scores of the data and the local conditional Gaussian distribution is modeled from the kriging mean and kriging variance of the normal scores of the data. The equality of ratios of distributions has the same form as the Bayes’ rule and the assumption of stationarity of the data histogram can be re-interpreted as the gathering of the prior distribution. Multi-Gaussian kriging can be re-interpreted as an updating of the data histogram by a Gaussian likelihood. The Bayes’ rule allows for an even more general interpretation of spatial estimation in terms of equality for the ratio of the conditional distribution over the marginal distribution in the original data uncertainty space with the same ratio for a model of uncertainty with a distribution that can be modeled using the mean and variance from direct kriging of the original data values. It is based on the principle of conservation of probability ratio and no transformation is required. The local conditional distribution has a variance that is data dependent. When used in sequential simulation mode, it reproduces histogram and variogram of the data, thus providing a new approach for direct simulation in the original value space.


Simple kriging Nataf transformation Multi-Gaussian  Conditional probability Prior Likelihood Stationarity Bayes’rule  Direct simulation 



Comments and corrections suggested by anonymous reviewers have helped to significantly improve the original version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CalgaryCanada

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