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Integration of spectral, spatial and morphometric data into lithological mapping: A comparison of different Machine Learning Algorithms in the Kurdistan Region, NE Iraq

Othman, A. A.; Gloaguen, R.


Lithological mapping in mountainous regions is often impeded by limited accessibility due to relief. This study aims to evaluate (1) the performance of different supervised classification approaches using remote sensing data and (2) the use of additional information such as geomorphology. We exemplify the methodology in the Bardi-Zard area in NE Iraq, a part of the Zagros Fold – Thrust Belt, known for its chromite deposits. We highlighted the improvement of remote sensing geological classification by integrating geomorphic features and spatial information in the classification scheme. We performed a Maximum Likelihood (ML) classification method besides two Machine Learning Algorithms (MLA): Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Random Forest (RF) to allow the joint use of geomorphic features, Band Ratio (BR), Principal Component Analysis (PCA), spatial information (spatial coordinates) and multispectral data of the Advanced Space-borne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER) satellite. The RF algorithm showed reliable results and discriminated serpentinite, talus and terrace deposits, red argillites with conglomerates and limestone, limy conglomerates and limestone conglomerates, tuffites interbedded with basic lavas, limestone and Metamorphosed limestone and reddish green shales. The best overall accuracy (∼80%) was achieved by Random Forest (RF) algorithms in the majority of the sixteen tested combination datasets.

Keywords: Zagros; Classification; Random forest; SVM; remote sensing; Iraq