Using Image Analysis and ArcGIS to Improve Automatic Grain Boundary Detection and Quantify Geological Images

Computers & GeosciencesComputers & Geosciences, Available online 15 June 2012

Michael A. DeVasto, Dyanna M. Czeck, and Prajukti Bhattacharyya


  • We use an integrated method to rock texture image analysis and spatial statistics.
  • Semi-automatic digitalization of images uses readily available software.
  • Software used includes Adobe Creative Suite 5, Arc ModelBuilder, and ArcMap.
  • Rock textures digitized into ArcMap allow textural quantification and statistics.
  • The method is quick, economical, user-friendly, and pertinent to many applications.

“Geological images, such as photos and photomicrographs of rocks, are commonly used as supportive evidence to indicate geological processes. A limiting factor to quantifying images is the digitization process; therefore, image analysis has remained largely qualitative. ArcGIS, the most widely used Geographic Information System (GIS) available, is capable of an array of functions including building models capable of digitizing images. We expanded upon a previously designed model built using Arc ModelBuilder to quantify photomicrographs and scanned images of thin sections.

“In order to enhance grain boundary detection, but limit computer processing and hard drive space, we utilized a preprocessing image analysis technique such that only a single image is used in the digitizing model. Preprocessing allows the model to accurately digitize grain boundaries with fewer images and requires less user intervention by using batch processing in image analysis software and ArcCatalog.

“We present case studies for five basic textural analyses using a semi-automated digitized image and quantified in ArcMap. Grain Size Distributions, Shape Preferred Orientations, Weak phase connections (networking), and Nearest Neighbor statistics are presented in a simplified fashion for further analyses directly obtainable from the automated digitizing method. Finally, we discuss the ramifications for incorporating this method into geological image analyses.”

Abstracts Sought for 17th Annual GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference

URISAThe International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) are pleased to announce the 17th Annual GIS/CAMA (Geographic Information Systems / Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal) Technologies Conference, to be held March 4-7, 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The conference committee, composed of IAAO and URISA members, will develop the educational program after a thorough review of abstract submissions received through the Call for Presentations. Three overall themes will be used to organize the educational sessions:

  • Get It Done – At a time when budgets and staff sizes are dwindling, getting your work done better and more efficiently is critical.  Presentations in this track are designed to give you ideas for improving processes from field data collection to data integrity.
  • Run the Numbers – Accurate and equitable valuations are the cornerstone of an assessment office.  Learn new ways of analyzing data and take away the lessons learned from statistical models that are being used all over the world.
  • Serve It Up – Public confidence can rise and fall based on the effective sharing and communication of property data and values with taxpayers, businesses, and other entities.  Let peers show you how they have stepped up to the challenge and changed the ways or methods they utilize, display, and communicate data.

The committee welcomes the submission of individual papers, complete sessions, and lightning talks and has proposed a list of suggested topics for consideration (all abstracts received will be reviewed and considered for the conference program regardless of the list below):

  • Modeling unstable markets using advanced techniques
  • Funding assessment operations and projects
  • Mobile technology in action
  • Raising public understanding – New ways of showing the public what we do and how we do it
  • Best practices and lessons learned
  • Technology implementations
  • GIS in Crisis – Sharing data instantly using GIS when nature wreaks havoc
  • For Better or For Worse – Keeping staff engaged in the face of cutbacks and other workforce development challenges
  • ROI – Resource or technology investments that paid off
  • On the Up and Up – Tales of recovery after economic or natural disaster
  • The best idea we had this year was…
  • Mineral rights – big business or bust?
  • Public data versus privacy rights
  • Utilizing GIS tools for appeals
  • Going viral – using YouTube and other social media
  • Parcel Numbering
  • Web interfaces – from electronic submission of appeals to comparable sales maps for public use
  • Statistical models for commercial property
  • Personal property from PCs to wind farms
  • Utilizing GIS for change detection
  • Geospatial valuation tips and tricks
  • GIS in the ‘Cloud’
  • The value of ‘Green’ construction
  • Technology and Customer Service
  • Special Assessments, Surrogate Taxes, and Alternative Funding Mechanisms
  • Using GIS to Support Personal Property Assessments
  • Housing Development Trends (alternative housing, rental market, combined households, tiny houses, new development)
  • Nondisclosure and Property Value Discovery Techniques
  • Geospatial Standards Panel Discussion
  • Organizational models for IT and GIS services to Assessment (where do staff sit and who do they report to?)
  • Land Record integration with CAMA/GIS
  • Getting all the Building permits in a timely manner (working with all your jurisdictions)
  • Implementing the subparcels – what it means to CAMA and GIS
  • CAMA Models using SPSS, blame it on the statistics!
  • Zoning as a new type of neighborhood?
  • Multiple source data verification (imagery, GIS, CAMA) to support assessments.
  • Modern workflows:  where we’ve come from and where we are going?

Abstract submissions will be accepted until October 5, 2012. The link to the Call for Presentations and general conference information is:

[Source: URISA press release]

Elevation and Cholera: An Epidemiological Spatial Analysis of the Cholera Epidemic in Harare, Zimbabwe, 2008-2009

BMC Public HealthBMC Public Health, 12:442, Published 18 June 2012

Miguel A Luque Fernandez, Michael Schomaker, Peter R Mason, Jean F Fesselet, Yves Baudot, Andrew Boulle, and Peter Maes

“Background: In highly populated African urban areas where access to clean water is a challenge, water source contamination is one of the most cited risk factors in a cholera epidemic. During the rainy season, where there is either no sewage disposal or working sewer system, runoff of rains follows the slopes and gets into the lower parts of towns where shallow wells could easily become contaminated by excretes. In cholera endemic areas, spatial information about topographical elevation could help to guide preventive interventions. This study aims to analyze the association between topographic elevation and the distribution of cholera cases in Harare during the cholera epidemic in 2008 and 2009.

“Methods: We developed an ecological study using secondary data. First, we described attack rates by suburb and then calculated rate ratios using whole Harare as reference. We illustrated the average elevation and cholera cases by suburbs using geographical information. Finally, we estimated a generalized linear mixed model (under the assumption of a Poisson distribution) with an Empirical Bayesian approach to model the relation between the risk of cholera and the elevation in meters in Harare. We used a random intercept to allow for spatial correlation of neighbouring suburbs.

Distribution of cholera cases and average elevation by suburb in Harare, 2008-2009

Distribution of cholera cases and average elevation by suburb in Harare, 2008-2009

“Results: This study identifies a spatial pattern of the distribution of cholera cases in the Harare epidemic, characterized by a lower cholera risk in the highest elevation suburbs of Harare. The generalized linear mixed model showed that for each 100 meters of increase in the topographical elevation, the cholera risk was 30\% lower with a rate ratio of 0.70 (95\% confidence interval=0.66-0.76). Sensitivity analysis confirmed the risk reduction with an overall estimate of the rate ratio between 20\% and 40\%.

“Discussion: This study highlights the importance of considering topographical elevation as a geographical and environmental risk factor in order to plan cholera preventive activities linked with water and sanitation in endemic areas. Furthermore, elevation information, among other risk factors, could help to spatially orientate cholera control interventions during an epidemic.”

Eye on Earth Honored as a Top Sustainable Solution at Rio+20

SustaniaLast night, Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, sustainability legend Gro Harlem Brundtland, IPCC Chair Rajendra K. Pachauri, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard and 150 VIP guests celebrated the first concrete outcome at Rio+20: The launch of Sustainia100. Esri is proud to announce that Eye on Earth has been chosen for this prestigious list of solutions.

Eye on Earth is an environmental application leveraging Esri’s ArcGIS Online, developed with Microsoft and the European Environment Agency (EEA), to deliver air, noise, and water data to European citizens.

“Eye on Earth’s place in the Sustainia 100 shows real recognition for information sharing,” said Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. “Knowledge can change our relationship with the environment, helping us become more sustainable and resilient to the challenges ahead. We hope the award will encourage even more citizens and organisations to get involved in Eye on Earth.”

The Eye on Earth network provides tools for creating maps, accessing thousands of readily available maps and datasets, and managing geospatial content. The Eye on Earth platform makes it possible for users to share content with the public and among groups or to use privately. Governments, research organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the public can use the network to work together to understand problems, develop policy, design plans, and take action. Furthermore, the cloud-configured network provides the foundation for other regions to create similar environmental platforms.

“Being included on the Sustania 100 is a tremendous honor,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri President. ”The Eye on Earth application puts environmental and social information into the hands of many people and provides them with the tools to participate in policy and truly make a difference. The Eye on Earth network will become a catalyst for conversation. We think this is going to bring people to their feet by empowering them to understand problems and be part of the solutions.”

The Eye on Earth Watch program application is used by  citizen scientists, who use their mobile devices to report environment ratings for air, bathing water quality, and noise pollution to the network.

Gathered from 56 countries spread over six continents, Sustainia100 is a complete guide to innovative and scalable solutions instrumental in creating sustainable societies. Building on ready and available solutions only, Sustainia100 is as a tangible tool for sustainability professionals – from politicians to CEOs- dedicated to create desirable and sustainable societies.

“I am very excited and inspired by this as it makes it absolutely clear that our mission is possible. That we do have the ammunition we need to tackle this challenge. That we have what it takes to create fun and attractive societies without destroying our planet,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Honorary Chair of Sustainia.

Individually, the solutions represent sustainable innovation in areas such as city planning, energy, fashion, water and waste management, high-tech and transportation. Collectively, they provide a guide of the building blocks available for transforming our societies.

Sustainia100 is a cornerstone in Sustainia—a construction site for the desirable society we could live in if we implemented ready and available solutions. Developed by world-leading companies, organizations and experts in close collaboration with UN Global Compact and Governor Schwarzenegger’s initiative Regions20, Sustainia is the first holistic introduction to the attractive sustainable future.

Sustainia100 solutions are nominees for the Sustainia Award, which honors outstanding performance within sustainability. The winner will be announced at a ceremony later this year in Copenhagen.

“Securing the planet for future generations is a global collaborative task,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister, Member of The Elders Team. “Sustainia100 demonstrates that since the first Earth Summit in 1992 solutions and innovations to tackle this challenge have been developed all over the world. We need to make more people aware of these solutions and inspire more to act. With the Sustainia100 there is no excuse for not choosing a sustainable path to the future. The solutions are there and ready for use.”

[Source: Esri press release]