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Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

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Journal of African Earth Sciences

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Integration of spectral, thermal, and textural features of ASTER data

using Random Forests classification for lithological mapping
Feizollah Masoumi a, Taymour Eslamkish a, *, Ali Akbar Abkar b, Mehdi Honarmand c,
Jeff R. Harris d
Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Hafez Ave. No. 424, Tehran, Iran
AgriWatch B.V., Weerninklanden 24, 7542 SC, Enschede, The Netherlands
Department of Ecology, Institute of Science and High Technology and Environmental Sciences, Graduate University of Advanced Technology, Kerman, Iran
Geological Survey of Canada, 601 Booth St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The ensemble classifier, Random Forests (RF), is assessed for mapping lithology using the Advanced
Received 30 July 2016 Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imagery over an area in southern Iran.
Received in revised form The study area in the northern part of Rabor in the Kerman's Cenozoic magmatic arc (KCMA) is well
17 December 2016
exposed and contains some copper mineralization occurrences. In this research, the following six groups
Accepted 23 January 2017
of ASTER datasets were used for RF classification: nine spectral bands in the VNIR and SWIR, five thermal
Available online 26 January 2017
bands in TIR, all 14 bands (including VNIR, SWIR, and TIR), band ratios, texture features, and principal
components (PCs). The results showed that band ratios and all ASTER bands were able to more efficiently
Random Forests
discriminate rock units than PC and texture images. The overall classification accuracies achieved were
Lithological mapping 62.58%, 55.40%, 65.04%, 67.12%, 54.54%, and 53.99% for the nine VNIR/SWIR bands, five TIR bands, all
ASTER ASTER bands, band ratios, textural, and PCs datasets, respectively. Four datasets including all ASTER
Texture bands, band ratios, textural, and PCs datasets (37 bands) were combined as one group and applied in
Principal components second RF classification which led to increase overall accuracy (up to 81.52%). Based on the four classified
Band ratio maps, an uncertainty map was produced to identify areas of variable (uncertain) classification results,
which revealed that approximately 21.43% of all pixels on the classified map were highly uncertain. The
RF algorithm found that 12 of the predictors were more important in the classification process. These
predictors were used in a third RF classification, which resulted in an overall classification accuracy of
77.21%. Thus, the third RF classification decreases the accuracy. Field observations were used to validate
our classification results.
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction relatively short-time frame in remote areas at reduced costs when

compared to traditional field mapping programs. The results can
Rapid increases in remote sensing technology and sensor also focus field studies to more complex areas where mineraliza-
development has provided geologists with excellent tools with tion may have a higher probability of occurring. The interpretation
which to conduct regional geological mapping studies in exposed of remotely sensed data for detecting different minerals, rock types,
environments supporting the exploration for minerals and oil (van and soil are mainly based on spectral signatures, colour, and texture
der Meer et al., 2012). Remotely sensed images can provide new (Mwaniki et al., 2015).
geological information that can be used both for producing new The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection
geological maps or updating existing legacy geological maps in Radiometer (ASTER) is a multispectral imaging system operating on
areas that are difficult to access and very expensive to reach. NASA's Terra satellite launched in December 1999 and has acquired
Moreover, a predictive geological map can be produced in a detailed information from the Earth surface since March 2000
(Abrams et al., 2015). The instrument acquires a trio of multispec-
tral images of the Earth in the visible to near-infrared (VNIR; three
bands between 0.5 and 0.9 mm, 15-m resolution, stereoscopic
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (T. Eslamkish). capability in band 3, with nadir (band 3N) and backward (band 3B)
1464-343X/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
446 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

views), the shortwave infrared (SWIR; six bands between 1.6 and classification accuracy using a SVM classification of spectral and
2.5 mm, 30-m resolution), and the thermal infrared (TIR; five bands textural features derived from ASTER and Landsat 8 data for
between 8 and 12 mm, 90-m resolution) (Ninomiya et al., 2005). improving the geological map of the Ras Gharib area in northeast
ASTER has been used extensively to map rock types (lithology) as Egypt.
well as alteration minerals that are useful vectors for mineralization The present study applies additional derivative images as well as
in a variety of geological environments (e.g. Liu et al., 2014; Mars common band ratios and principal components (PCs) to evaluate
and Rowan, 2006; Ranjbar et al., 2011; Rowan et al., 2003; Salati whether these images can improve the classification of different
et al., 2011; Shahriari et al., 2015; Zhang et al., 2007). lithologies. We performed classification using RF classifier on six
Classification is a well-known image processing procedure for combinations of the data including: (1) ASTER corrected VNIRþS-
creating thematic maps from remotely sensed data. Use of both WIR bands (nine bands), (2) ASTER corrected TIR bands (five
spectral and textural information for improving classification ac- bands), (3) All corrected ASTER VNIRþSWIRþTIR bands (14 bands),
curacy has been suggested by many authors (e.g. Lu and Weng, (4) Various band ratios (10 band ratios) derived to enhance various
2007; van der Meer, 2003; Plaza et al., 2009; Richards, 2012). van minerals of different lithologies of the study area, (5) PC of ASTER
der Meer (2003) and Salati et al. (2011) emphasize the usefulness first nine bands (five selected PCs), and (6) Texture features derived
of spatial (i.e. contextual) information for identifying transitions from the ASTER band 6 (eight selected textural features).
between lithological units. The RF classifier has gradually been gaining attention in
Although geological mapping has been undertaken using spec- geological mapping (e.g. Cracknell and Reading, 2014; Harris et al.,
tral information extracted from ASTER bands (e.g. Hadigheh and 2014; He et al., 2015; Othman and Gloaguen, 2015; Rodriguez-
Ranjbar, 2013; Rowan et al., 2005; Zhang et al., 2007; Zou, 2013), Galiano et al., 2014) as there are few input parameters, a smaller
there have been limited attempts to integrate spectral and spatial sensitivity to noise and over fitting and the capability to determine
(textural) data derived from ASTER images for lithological and variable importance. In this study, a center part of Kerman Cenozoic
mineral mapping. Thus, this motivated us to investigate the effi- magmatic arc (KCMA; Shafiei et al., 2009) in Iran was selected for
ciency of integration of spectral and spatial data in lithological study since this region is well-exposed, remote, inaccessible and
mapping using an ensemble learning algorithm, called Random hosts some porphyry copper prospects occurrences. Thus, the area
Forests (RF; Breiman, 2001). In addition to spectral features is an ideal environment for conducting a geological mapping
(reflectance), capturing textural features of lithologies that may be campaign using remotely sensed data.
unique as a result of differences in physical weathering erosion and
drainage, can provide useful supporting information to distinguish
rock types (Li et al., 2011). Using texture features along with 2. Geology of the study area
spectral properties of ASTER data has recently resulted in improved
lithological mapping (Othman and Gloaguen, 2014). They used Fig. 1a shows location of the study area and the distribution of
spectral and geomorphic features derived from ASTER bands in a Cenozoic magmatic rocks, which contain known copper deposits
support vector machine (SVM) classification to improve mapping (Hezarkhani, 2008) within the KCMA. The study area is located
ophiolite complex in the Zagros mountains, Iraq. In an another between longitude 56 460 5100 E and 57 000 0000 E and latitude 29
study, Jakob et al. (2015) achieved an extremely high overall 200 1100 N and 29 300 0000 N, in the center part of the KCMA (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. (a) Geographical location of study area and Kerman cenozoic magmatic arc (KCMA) in Iran overlain on cenozoic magmatic rocks (modified from Dimitrijevic (1973)). (b)
Geological map the of the study area (modified from Srdic et al. (1972)).
F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457 447

The study area is located in a mountainous region with an altitude The range of NDVI varies from 1 to þ1 (Behnia et al., 2012;
range between 1820 and 4376 m above sea level and relatively high Chuvieco and Huete, 2010). NDVI values greater than 0.2e0.3 are
amount of vegetation cover especially in spring season. The geology evidence of vegetation and NDVI values less than 0.2e0.3 include
of this area contains eight main rock units shown on Fig. 1b. The rocks and soil pixels, as well as snow/ice and clouds (Bertoldi et al.,
rock units vary in age from upper Cretaceous to Recent gravel fans. 2011; Fung and Siu, 2000). An upper threshold of the NDVI is
The two main lithotpyes that are distinctive are diorite- chosen to separate vegetation and non-vegetation (Harris et al.,
granodiorite Oligocene-Miocene igneous bodies and upper 2014). Silicates and carbonates also have distinct adsorption fea-
Eocene andesite and andesite-basalt lava flows (Srdic et al., 1972). tures in the TIR region of the electromagnetic spectrum (Abrams
The youngest rock unit is gravel fans, which mainly occur in south et al., 2002; Jakob et al., 2015). Thus the TIR bands were prepared
of the study area. Eocene tuff covers a small region in the southeast for further image processing. At sensor spectral radiance (result of
of the study area and lepidocyclina limestone, diorite-porphyries, Eq. (1)) of five TIR bands were converted to an effective at-sensor
poorly lithified sandstone and conglomerate with pebbles of vol- brightness temperature according to the equation derived from
canic rocks are the other geologic units comprising the study area Chander et al. (2009):
(Srdic et al., 1972).
3. Material and methods T¼  2  (4)
ln KLl1 þ 1
3.1. Preprocessing of ASTER data
An ASTER level 1B (L1B) scene, with a solar elevation angle of
42.36 and an azimuth angle of 162.04 , was acquired on 7 T ¼ Temperature at the sensor [Kelvin]
November 2001 over the study area. The image was georeferenced K2 ¼ Calibration constant 2 [Kelvin]
to the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) ellipsoid datum and K1 ¼ Calibration constant 1 [W.m2 sr1 mm1]
projected to Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) zone 40N. SWIR Ll ¼ Spectral radiance at-sensor [W m2 sr1 mm1]
and TIR bands were resampled to the VNIR spatial resolution of
15 m. Crosstalk effect, which is caused by signal leakage from band Kelvin to Celsius conversion, then, was done using a simple
4 to other SWIR bands, has been corrected using the crosstalk metric conversion equation. The five TIR bands formed the second
correction software (CCS; Iwasaki and Tonooka, 2005). Digital dataset input to the RF classifier. In addition, the TIR bands were
number (DN) values of ASTER L1B were converted to calibrated grouped with the VNIRþSWIR bands creating the third dataset
spectral radiance at-sensor using the following equation derived input to the RF classifier.
from Abrams et al. (2002):

Ll ¼ ðDn  1Þ:UCC (1)

where 3.2. Band ratios

2 1 1
l ¼ Spectral radiance at-sensor [W.m sr mm ] Band ratioing, a simple and useful technique for mapping li-
UCC ¼ Unit conversion coefficients [unitless] thology, is computed by dividing the pixel value of one spectral
band by the corresponding pixel in another band. This method can
Spectral radiance at-sensor of all VNIR and SWIR ASTER bands reduce the effect of topography while enhancing spectral reflec-
were processed to top of atmosphere (TOA) reflectance using the tance of various materials (Mwaniki et al., 2015; Richards, 2012). In
following equation derived from Chander et al. (2009): order to select the most suitable band ratios for enhancing rock
units in the study area, spectra of rock samples were radiometri-
p$Ll $d2 FieldSpec3®
rl ¼ (2) cally measured by the spectroradiometer
ESUNl $cos qs (0.45e2.5 mm) in the laboratory. However, the difficult topographic
conditions of the study area prevented sampling of all the rock
where units. Fig. 2 shows some of these laboratory spectra resampled to
match the bandwidths of the ASTER VNIR and SWIR bands. These
rl ¼ TOP reflectance [unitless] spectra were carefully studied to find the best band ratios for
p ¼ 3.14159 enhancing rock units. The granite spectrum exhibits a deep ab-
Ll ¼ Spectral radiance at-sensor [W m2 sr1 mm1] sorption feature in bands 6 but is reflective in bands 5 and 7.
d ¼ Distance between earth and sun [astronomical units] Granodiorite spectrum shows a deep absorption feature in band 8
ESUNl ¼ Mean exoatmospheric solar irradiance [W.m2. mm1] and reflectance features in bands 4 and 5. The Andesite spectrum
qs ¼ Solar zenith angle [degrees] shows a deep absorption feature in bands 8 whereas shoulders of
this absorption are reflective (bands 7 and 9). A prominent reflec-
TOA of reflectance for both the VNIR and SWIR bands was tance feature of basalt and tuff spectra occur in band 3 whereas
calculated and then grouped into one file, which formed the first absorption features are located in bands 4 and 6. Based on these
dataset input to the RF classifier. spectral features, band ratios 4/6, 4/8, 3/4, 5/8, (5þ7)/6, and (7þ9)/8
The presence of vegetation can obscure lithological units, were determined as useful ratios for enhancing some of the li-
therefore, in order to mask out the vegetation, the well-known thologies in the study area. Spectral properties of other rocks in the
normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was applied to the study area were determined based on the image spectrum and
above dataset based on Eq. (3): pervious published ratios for geology mapping (Harris et al., 2014;
Tangestani et al., 2011; van der Meer et al., 2012). These additional
band3ðNIRÞ  band2ðRedÞ
NDVI ¼ (3) ratios include bands 4/9, 6/7, 7/4, and 8/6. As before these calcu-
band3ðNIRÞ þ band2ðRedÞ
lated ratios were grouped into one file for input to the RF classifier.
448 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

Fig. 2. Reflectance spectra of some rock samples in the study area measured using a FieldSpec3® spectroradiometer resampled to the ASTER VNIRþSWIR bands (VNIRþSWIR
bandwidths of ASTER sensor are shown on the Figure).

3.3. Principal component analysis (PCA) comprises an equal mix of all bands although band 4 has more
influence (higher eigenvalue of 0.502) followed by the SWIR bands.
Generally, the existence of a high correlation between multi- One could consider the first component as a NIR/SWIR component
spectral bands necessitates a mathematical transform that can whereas PC2 is dominated by the visible bands could be considered
produce new uncorrelated axes with which to manipulate the data a visible component. The first two components describe almost 99%
(Richards, 2012). The PC transformation, well-known as a funda- of the information content. However, visual inspection of the
mental statistics method in image processing, reduces the dimen- higher PC's revealed substantial information related to the distri-
sionality of a dataset into a fewer number of axes (components) bution of lithological units. As a result, the first five components
that describes the majority of the information (variance) in the raw were used as the fifth dataset for input to the RF classifier.
dataset while segregating noise into the higher components (Singh
and Harrison, 1985). Each new axes is a linear mix of all the input 3.4. Textural analysis
variables (measured by eigenvectors) and often presents patterns
in the data not seen in combinations of the raw dataset (Research Texture as a component of any remotely sensed image can play
Systems Inc., 2004). In this study PCA was conducted on the VNIR an important role in classifications studies as some rock units can
and SWIR ASTER bands to highlight the various lithologies. Table 1 be distinguished by spectral reflectance and emission properties as
shows the result of PCA on ASTER VNIRþSWIR bands. The first well as textural properties. Tonal variations in the spatial domain
component (PC1) accounts for 91.17% of the variance of the data and and the overall visual smoothness and coarseness of image

Table 1
Principal components analysis on VNIRþSWIR bands of ASTER.

Principal component Band 1 Band 2 Band 3 Band 4 Band 5 Band 6 Band 7 Band 8 Band 9 Variance (%)

PC1 0.216 0.304 0.178 0.502 0.348 0.389 0.370 0.325 0.244 91.17
PC2 0.536 0.657 0.322 0.249 0.199 0.193 0.147 0.087 0.083 06.36
PC3 0.039 0.023 0.115 0.781 0.109 0.325 0.137 0.347 0.340 01.44
PC4 0.218 0.038 0.091 0.065 0.475 0.485 0.345 0.591 0.083 0.28
PC5 0.389 0.005 0.612 0.031 0.355 0.453 0.354 0.035 0.114 0.23
PC6 0.250 0.058 0.556 0.251 0.360 0.181 0.516 0.274 0.236 0.16
PC7 0.222 0.120 0.125 0.008 0.585 0.375 0.546 0.361 0.079 0.14
PC8 0.227 0.216 0.069 0.046 0.025 0.231 0.069 0.455 0.792 0.10
PC9 0.54 0.638 0.370 0.052 0.001 0.190 0.083 0.025 0.328 0.08
F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457 449

comprise textural attributes of an image (Chica-Olmo and Abarca- Harris et al., 2012).
Hernandez, 2000). First-order textural measures include calcula-
tion of a variance or standard deviation image. A grey level co- 3.6. Random Forests (RF)
occurrence matrix (GLCM; Haralick et al., 1973) is the most popu-
lar technique for the computation of second order textural features RF algorithm, first introduced by Breiman (2001), is an ensemble
(Li et al., 2011). Textural measures including a GLCM matrix are classifier that employs multiple trees to classify an image. A random
calculated by passing a moving window (most commonly a square) subset of variables (image channels) are selected for each tree as
of a given size over an image. A variety of sizes were tested for well as a random sample (with replacement) of the training areas
calculating textural measure and a 5  5 window produced the best whereby 2/3 are used to produce the classification for the indi-
results. Haralick et al. (1973) introduced 14 textural parameters vidual tree and the remaining 1/3 are used for validation. This
which can be derived from a GLCM matrix. The reader is referred to process is referred to as bagging and the validation training areas
Haralick et al. (1973) for the computational formula. In this study provide an out-of-bag accuracy assessment for each tree. The RF
we used eight textural measures including mean, variance, homo- classifier uses a voting system whereby the majority vote for a given
geneity, contrast, dissimilarity, entropy, second moment, and cor- class from all the trees is calculated on a pixel basis and this forms
relation that were derived from the ASTER band 6. Band 6 was the final classification map (Breiman, 2001; Eisavi et al., 2015). In RF
selected because of its high standard deviation. The eight extracted classification the Gini index, which determines the impurity of each
textural parameters formed the sixth dataset input to the RF node in a decision tree, was applied to construct decision trees (He
classifier. et al., 2015). The RF algorithm requires little user input other than
the number of trees to generate (Ntree) and the number of variables
3.5. Select training areas to select for each tree (Mtry; Belgiu and Dra guţ, 2016; Breiman,
2001). Some researchers have recommended the selection of the
The spectral/lithological classes were defined after masking square root of the number of variables for Mtry (e.g. Breiman, 2001;
vegetation and enhancing the imagery. We used the digitized Gislason et al., 2006; He et al., 2015) and this is what was used in
1:100,000 geological map as well as ASTER imagery and geological this study. As an example for the first dataset (first nine ASTER
knowledge of the study area to select representative training areas bands), Mtry was 3.
of the various rock types. To attain a reliable classification, the In this study RF classification was implemented for all datasets
number of training areas (pixels) for each spectral class must be using EnMAP-Box (van der Linden et al., 2015), which freely is
sufficient. Jensen (2005) suggested 10n pixels for each class, where available at All classifications were carried
n is the number of bands whereas Mather (1999) and Piper (1987) out by setting a default Ntree value of 100. RF also calculates vari-
suggested 10n to 30n pixels. In our study the number of pixels for able importance in the classification process which is helpful in
each class far exceeded the 10n. In addition a set of independent reducing a large number of input variables to a smaller subset of
training areas for each rock class were identified for validation variables that has the strongest influence in the RF classification.
purposes. A 50% split of the classification and validation training
areas, as suggested by He et al. (2015) was used in this study. Table 2 3.7. Methodology
presents a summary of the training areas.
Transformed divergence (TD), a statistical method used for The ASTER data and derivative images, as mentioned above,
measuring class separability, was calculated for the training data- were divided into six datasets that include VNIR-SWIR, TIR, VNIR-
set. TD which is considerably better than Jeffries-Matusita (JM) and SWIR-TIR, band ratios, textural images, and PC images. Fig. 3
simple divergence is calculated as following equation (Richards, shows flowchart summarizing the methodology used in this
2012): study. Although ASTER TIR bands contain some unique spectral
0 1 features (i.e. carbonate and silicate minerals), they could not be
used for spectral mapping for all lithological units in the study area.
B Dij
TDij ¼ 2@1  e 8 A (5) However, they were applied as one separate dataset and also
combined with reflective bands to investigate their usefulness in
mapping lithology of the study area. The RF classification was
where Dij is the divergence between classes i and j. The range of TD applied to all six datasets of the ASTER data as shown in Fig. 3. Six
values is between 0 and 2 in which values greater than 1.9 indicate classified maps were produced using the RF algorithm. Each of the
the optimum separabilty between class pairs whereas ranges be- RF classifications maps from the six data subsets were validated
tween 1.5 and 1.9 indicate a moderate separabilty. Values between using the independent training areas to create confusion matrices
1.0 and 1.5 indicate poor separability (marginal), and values less (overall accuracy) as well as calculation of the Kappa coefficient. To
than 1 indicate very poor to no separabilty (Behnia et al., 2012; investigate the potential of all datasets together in classification

Table 2
Summary of training and validation areas (ROIs) used in this study for classification of ASTER data (All classes are introduced in Fig. 1b).

Lithological class Training areas Validation areas

no. of pixels no. of polygons no. of pixels no. of polygons

Q 1325 10 1302 10
Ng2 1083 9 1045 9
OIM 350 7 328 6
Ngc1 1480 9 1452 8
dp 575 5 523 5
Esn 398 4 369 4
gd 5619 12 5574 11
Eaf 5642 12 5601 12
450 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

Fig. 3. Flowchart of the methodology used in this study for lithological mapping using ASTER data and RF classifier.

and reach to maximum accuracy, four datasets comprising VNIR- Pixels with higher standard deviation values are more uncertain
SWIR-TIR, band ratios, textural, and PCs (37 bands) were com- with respect to classification (Behnia et al., 2012; Harris et al.,
bined as input to RF classifier. VNIR-SWIR and TIR groups were 2012). The most variable pixels can be excluded on the final RF
excluded from combination to prevent repetition. Additionally, the classification map by choosing different standard deviation
four classification maps were combined using a majority vote for thresholds from the uncertainty map (Behnia et al., 2012; Harris
each pixel producing an ensemble classification map as well as et al., 2012).
producing an uncertainty (variability map). The majority classifi- For each of the RF classifications on the four datasets the most
cation map contains the class that was most frequent on all four predictive variables (as measured by RF) were identified and
classifications on a pixel-to-pixel basis. The variability map can be combined in one file. The RF classification was applied to this file
used to measure uncertainty in the classification by calculating the and results were compared with the four combined datasets.
standard deviation of the class values on a pixel-to-pixel basis.
F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457 451

4. Results for texture dataset (very poor separability) to a maximum of 2 (very

good separability). Although TD values for class separability based
4.1. Training area separability on the texture dataset for most class pairs are very low, values for
some pairs namely Q-OIM, Ng2-OIM, OIM-Ngc1, and OIM-dp have
Fig. 4a shows a plot of TD values for all possible class pairs for the highest values (TD is 2). This indicates that for some classes the
each of the six datasets. As there were eight lithological classes, 28 texture images do contribute to the separability and are useful to
class pairs were available for comparison, hence; a set of 28 TD include in the classifications. Similarly, TD values for class separa-
values was computed for each dataset. The highest separability was bility based on the TIR dataset for 12 class pairs are very poor (less
achieved based on the ASTER 14 bands and band ratios datasets. than 1) whereas in some class pairs (five class pairs) are very good
The most variation in the TD values occur with the TIR and texture that VNIRþSWIR show lower TD values.
bands with values varying between of 0.36 for TIR dataset and 0.4 The PC dataset in general offers low separability between classes

Fig. 4. (a) Transformed divergence (TD) values for all the class pairs for the six datasets. (b) Average of TD values for all six datasets (All classes are introduced in Fig. 1b).
452 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

and is only slightly higher on average than the texture dataset. The study area and occurring in all rock units. Calculating statistics of
PC dataset exhibits the minimum separability for 14 class pairs and this uncertainty map revealed that 42.65% of all pixels have a
for the 14 remaining pairs the TD values are slightly higher than the variability of 0% (i.e. the same class in four classified maps); 35.92%
texture or TIR datasets. Fig. 4b shows the plot of average separa- have a variability of 33% (i.e., the same class in three classified
bility for all datasets. The lowest average separability is 1 for the maps); and 21.43% have a variability of 66% (i.e., the same class in
class pair Ngc1-Eaf. However, the TD values based on the band two classified maps). The most uncertain pixels can be masked out
ratios and 14 ASTER band dataset for this pair is 1.8 and 1.78, to emphasize only the pixels that have a higher degree of certainty
respectively, which indicates a moderate separability. According to on the classified maps.
this plot, 19 class pairs had average TD values greater than 1.5, and
the average for nine class pairs fluctuated between 1 and 1.5. None
4.3. Integration of datasets and the most predictive variables
of the average values are lower than 1 (very poor separability). The
value of integrating all the ASTER bands can be seen in Fig. 4a as this
The highest classification accuracy (67.12%) was achieved with
dataset offers the highest separability for most classes.
the band ratio dataset (Table 3). Classification of the four integrated
datasets shows the overall accuracy and Kappa coefficient 81.52%
4.2. Classification and uncertainty map and 0.74, respectively (Table 4). The dp, Esn, OIM, and Q classes
have the best user's accuracy (>97%) and the Esn and OIM classes
Firstly, all six datasets were classified separately using the RF have the best producer's accuracy (>95%). The lowest user's accu-
classifier. Table 3 presents the results of the accuracy assessment. racy was 61.22%, 67.59%, and 72.94 for the Ngc1, Ng2, and Eaf
The highest classification accuracies were achieved using the AS- classes, respectively, while the lowest producer's accuracy was for
TER 14 band and band ratio datasets, which produced overall ac- the Ng2 class (65.48%).
curacies of 65.04% and 67.12%, respectively. The lowest accuracies Fig. 6 presents the most important bands (i.e. strongest pre-
were produced from the texture and PC datasets achieving overall dictors of rock units) for each classification derived from the four
accuracies of only 54.54% and 53.99%, respectively. The texture and mentioned datasets. Values present the normalized rather than raw
PC datasets did not improve the accuracy of classification when variable importance which computed as follows: For each tree the
compared to the nine spectral bands of ASTER dataset (overall ac- samples being out-of-bag are permuted in the respective variable,
curacy 62.81%). In fact the overall accuracy decreased by approxi- put down the tree and the accuracies are computed. The accuracies
mately 8%. This is not surprising since these datasets were of the permuted out-of-bag samples are subtracted from the ac-
characterized by low class separabilities as measured by TD. The curacies of the original samples. The average of the differences of
low classification accuracy (and low separability) produced by the the accuracies of a variable is the raw importance for these vari-
PC dataset was thought to be a result of only using the first five ables. Dividing the raw variable importance by the respective
components as they contained most of the information of the nine standard deviation results in the normalized variable importance. A
spectral bands ASTER dataset. However when we included all nine high value means that the variable has a high importance for the
PCs in the classification the overall accuracy only increased by entire RF and vice versa. The variable importance rank reveals that
2.39% to a value of 56.38% which is lower by 6.43% than the accu- for the 14 band ASTER dataset bands 4, 12, 10, 6 and 5, respectively,
racy achieved using the nine bands ASTER dataset. are the most important. PC1 contributes the most in the classifi-
In order to identify the most uncertain (variable) pixels and to cation process for PC dataset. Band ratios (7þ9)/8, 4/6, (5þ7)/6, and
discover the agreement between each of the four datasets (14 AS- 5/8 are the strongest predictors of all the ratios calculated for this
TER bands, band ratios, textures, and PCs) in classification, an un- study. The strongest predictors derived from the textural images
certainty map was produced. Fig. 5 shows the uncertainty map are the correlation and mean parameters.
calculated from the four classified datasets. This map shows the The RF classification was then applied to only the strongest
spatial distribution of uncertain pixels and their associated pat- predictors. Fig. 7 shows the result of classification. Table 4 shows
terns. The variability ranges from 0% (red pixels) to 66% (blue the result of accuracy assessment for selected the most important
pixels). This means that each pixel gets the same label at least in variables (i.e. 12 combined variables). The overall accuracy and
two classified maps. The red pixels indicate very low uncertainty Kappa coefficient are 77.21% and 0.69, respectively. The dp, OIM,
(i.e. variability 0%). The white pixels indicate that area is classified and Esn classes have the best user's accuracy (>97%) and the Esn
as the same class on three of the four classified maps. The most and OIM classes have the best producer's accuracy (>92%). The
uncertain pixels (i.e. variability 66%) are spatially diverse over the lowest user's accuracy was 60.95%, 64.22%, and 72.61% for the Ngc1,

Table 3
Overall accuracy, Kappa coefficient, and accuracies for individual classes of RF for classification of all data sets (All classes are introduced in Fig. 1b).

Lithological class VNIR and SWIR TIR bands of ASTER ASTER bands Overall Band ratios Overall Textures Overall PCs Overall
bands of ASTER Overall accuracy ¼ 65.04% accuracy ¼ 67.12% accuracy ¼ 54.54% accuracy ¼ 53.99%
Overall accuracy ¼ 55.40 Kappa Kappa Kappa Kappa
accuracy ¼ 62.81% Kappa coefficient ¼ 0.51 coefficient ¼ 0.55 coefficient ¼ 0.36 coefficient ¼ 0.35
Kappa coefficient ¼ 0.39
coefficient ¼ 0.48

User's Producer's User's Producer's User's Producer's User's Producer's User's Producer's User's Producer's

dp 93.11 66.86 83.31 81.59 96.14 74.45 92.55 70.08 63.75 47.76 85.96 28.19
Eaf 52.85 75.67 48.35 66.11 53.50 77.51 61.25 79.42 49.47 71.52 46.65 74.11
Esn 87.06 18.41 76.69 31.09 100 23.63 97.70 25.41 44.59 18.21 45.16 17.48
gd 67.17 70.66 54.41 52.75 69.11 73.02 71.34 77.48 58.22 68.70 62.33 68.50
Ng2 90.65 32.70 84.92 41.91 95.91 34.99 91.76 41.92 81.06 19.46 79.64 16.81
Ngc1 58.60 47.97 45.03 40.25 58.76 40.67 60.33 40.22 43.13 24.66 39.86 26.86
OIM 91.00 43.86 80.22 53.73 95.96 45.78 93.03 45.06 89.01 39.04 85.71 14.46
Q 84.89 54.84 73.76 57.61 89.40 59.60 89.42 60.30 60.96 33.47 67.55 30.22
F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457 453

Fig. 5. Variability map produced, showing the variability in classification for each pixel of four classified maps.

Table 4 mineralization (see Fig. 1a for distribution of copper deposits

Overall accuracy, Kappa coefficient, and producer's and user's accuracies for indi- within the KCMA) and contains a world class porphyry deposit
vidual classes of RF for classification of the most important variables (best pre- namely Sar Cheshmeh with 1200 million tons of ore at 0.7% Cu and
dictors) and combined datasets (All classes are introduced in Fig. 1b).
0.03% Mo (Shafiei et al., 2009). Therefore, updating geological maps
Lithological class Best predictors (12 Combined datasets (37 of this area is an essential requirement to assist further mineral
bands) bands) exploration programs. The study area, located within the KCMA, has
Overall Overall two main geological units (namely dioritic-granodioritic Oligo-
accuracy ¼ 77.21% accuracy ¼ 81.52% cene-Miocene igneous bodies (gd) and upper Eocene andesite and
Kappa Kappa andesite-basalt lava flows (Eaf)) that host the main alteration and
coefficient ¼ 0.69 coefficient ¼ 0.74
mineralization (Dimitrijevic, 1973). A portion of the ground truth
User's Producer's User's Producer's data (rock samples of the studied area) that were collected for
dp 98.59 71.42 99.31 73.09 spectral analysis of alteration minerals was used to evaluate the
Eaf 72.61 82.95 72.94 83.01 classification. The field observations, including a dataset of 41 field
Esn 97.84 92.38 98.94 95.26
stations in which rock types were recorded were overlaid on the
gd 86.70 73.08 87.95 76.17
Ng2 64.22 61.08 67.59 65.48
existing geological map and resulted in an accuracy of nearly 80%
Ngc1 60.95 83.26 61.22 83.35 and 75% for the gd and Eaf rock units, respectively. Fig. 8 shows
OIM 98.50 95.75 98.74 96.29 ground photographs of andesite and granodiorite in the study area.
Q 93.20 77.24 97.45 81.34 This study has indicated the efficiency of ASTER data for the
classification of rock units in the study area. The highest overall
accuracies were achieved using all 14 ASTER bands (65.04%) and the
Ng2, and Eaf classes, respectively, while the lowest producer's ac- band ratios (67.12%). This indicates that inclusion of the TIR bands
curacy was for the Ng2 class (61.08%). with the VNIR and SWIR bands does contribute to the classification.
Moreover, the calculation of band ratios is extremely valuable for
5. Discussion classification for various lithologies in the study area. This supports
the conclusions made by Harris et al. (2014) who also found ratios
The KCMA has a high potential for hosting porphyry copper very useful for lithologic classification in an cold desert Arctic
454 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

Fig. 6. Normalized spectral feature importance of all ASTER bands, band ratios, textures, and PCs datasets.

Fig. 7. (a) Spectral map of rock units derived from the RF classification applied to only the most predictive bands. Field sample points (numbered) are overlaid and occur primarily
over the Eaf, and gd rock units. (b) Geological map the of the study area (modified from Srdic et al. (1972)).

environment. These accuracies were approximately 10%e12% thermal and spectral bands show some differences. Some class
higher than the accuracies achieved using the textural and PC pairs that show lower separability (i.e. Q-Ng2, Q-Ngc1, Q-gd, Q-Eaf)
datasets. based on spectral bands, represent very good separability based on
With respect to separability of the various lithologies the thermal bands (see Fig. 4). The combination of ASTER VNIR and
F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457 455

Fig. 8. Field observation of two main rock units (gd and Eaf) in the study area. (a) General view of andesite. (b) Close up view of andesite. (c) General view of granodiorite. (d) Close
up view of granodiorite.

SWIR spectral bands with TIR bands leads to better training area most important bands (with only 12 bands). The numbers of
separability (measured by TD), and consequently a reasonably high combined datasets bands were three times more than the most
classification accuracy when compared to the independent check predictors (i.e. 37 bands vs. 12 bands) where a difference between
training areas. The classification of band ratios resulted in a higher accuracy was less than 5%. This means that large amounts of in-
accuracy than the results from the PC datasets. The study area was formation were enclosed in important predictor bands and other
located in a highly mountainous region, so the more accurate re- bands had lower role in classification. With respect to capability of
sults of band ratios may be due in part to the efficiency of band RF classifier to calculate the most significant predictors, a reason-
ratios for reducing solar illumination effects related to topography able accuracy can still be achieved with only the most significant
as well as to the sensitivity of the ratios chosen to various type of bands. The most predictive ASTER bands were mainly bands 4, 5, 6,
mineral alteration. The best predictors of band ratios were (7þ9)/8, 10, and 12 indicting the importance of the SWIR and TIR regions for
4/6, (5þ7)/6, and 5/8 (see Fig. 6). These ratios have previously been distinguishing rock units in the study area. Spectral features of the
confirmed as useful ratios for detecting alteration minerals and most predictive SWIR bands are mainly due to Al-O-H content of
lithological mapping (e.g. Alimohammadi et al., 2015; Gad and rock forming minerals (Mars and Rowan, 2006). Silicate minerals of
Kusky, 2007; Harris et al., 2014; Mars and Rowan, 2006; rocks in the study area (i.e. granite, diorite, andesite, and basalt)
Rajendran and Nasir, 2015). cause clear absorption emissivity in bands 10 and 12 (Ninomiya
The textural images in this study did not result in high classifi- et al., 2005; Watanabe and Matsuo, 2003).
cation accuracies (overall accuracy 54.54%) of lithology when used In this study an uncertainty map was used to delete or mask
alone. However, when integrated with other datasets they did help pixels that showed high variability in the RF classification resulting
improve classification accuracy with the mean and correlation in some areas that were not classified. This map showed that 21.43%
images being the best predictors (see Fig. 6 and Tables 3 and 4). of all pixels had variability 66% (i.e. the same class in two classified
RF is an ensemble, multiple decision-trees, non-parametric maps) where they were spatially diverse over the all rock units. This
classifier that ranks the most important variables (i.e. input bands) indicated that variability didn't occur in a specific class and all
for predicting the rock units in the study area. In addition, RF classes include some of high variable pixels (blue pixels in Fig. 4).
classifier is a valuable machine learning algorithm in the study of Classification accuracies achieved in this study are reliable
complex areas where large multisource data should be handled because the results were based on an independent set of training
(Rodriguez-Galiano et al., 2014). Integration of the most important areas as well as independent field observations. In addition, great
variables in this study resulted in higher classification accuracies care was taken in the selection of training areas from the legacy
when compared to the 14 VNIR, SWIR and TIR ASTER bands. The use geological map, enhancements of the ASTER imagery and field
of the 12 most important bands (2 less than all 14 ASTER bands) observations to ensure that each training area was representative of
resulted in a 10% increase in classification accuracy indicating that each rock type.
the quality of the input bands is more important than the total
number of input bands for classification of rock units in the study 6. Conclusions
area. Combination of four datasets (37 bands) led to reach the
highest overall accuracy (81.52%) where it was 4.31% more than the This study indicates that ASTER data can be used successfully to
456 F. Masoumi et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 129 (2017) 445e457

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Acknowledgments comparison of different remotely sensed data for classifying bedrock types in
Canada's Arctic: application of the robust classification method and random
forests. Geosci. Can. 41, 557e584.
We would like to acknowledge two anonymous reviewers who geocanj.2014.41.062.
provided a critical review of an earlier version of the manuscript He, J., Harris, J.R., Sawada, M., Behnia, P., 2015. A comparison of classification al-
and have greatly improved the quality. The first author would like gorithms using Landsat-7 and Landsat-8 data for mapping lithology in Canada's
Arctic. Int. J. Remote Sens. 36, 2252e2276.
to express sincere thanks to Mr. Vahid Eisavai in Remote Sensing 01431161.2015.1035410.
Department, Tarbiat Modaress University, for his comments and Hezarkhani, A., 2008. Hydrothermal evolution of the Sonajil porphyry copper sys-
assistance of an earlier draft of this paper. tem, East Azarbaijan Province, Iran: the history of an uneconomic deposit. Int.
Geol. Rev. 50, 483e501.
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Jakob, S., Bühler, B., Gloaguen, R., Breitkreuz, C., Eliwa, H.A., El Gameel, K., 2015.
Supplementary data related to this article can be found at http:// Remote sensing based improvement of the geological map of the Neo- proterozoic Ras Gharib segment in the Eastern Desert (NEeEgypt) using texture
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