Topological analysis in Monte Carlo simulation for uncertainty propagation

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11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes and demonstrates improvements for the Monte Carlo simulation for uncertainty propagation (MCUP) method. MCUP is a type of Bayesian Monte Carlo method aimed at input data uncertainty propagation in implicit 3-D geological modeling. In the Monte Carlo process, a series of statistically plausible models is built from the input dataset of which uncertainty is to be propagated to a final probabilistic geological model or uncertainty index model. Significant differences in terms of topology are observed in the plausible model suite that is generated as an intermediary step in MCUP. These differences are interpreted as analogous to population heterogeneity. The source of this heterogeneity is traced to be the non-linear relationship between plausible datasets' variability and plausible model's variability. Non-linearity is shown to mainly arise from the effect of the geometrical rule set on model building which transforms lithological continuous interfaces into discontinuous piecewise ones. Plausible model heterogeneity induces topological heterogeneity and challenges the underlying assumption of homogeneity which global uncertainty estimates rely on. To address this issue, a method for topological analysis applied to the plausible model suite in MCUP is introduced. Boolean topological signatures recording lithological unit adjacency are used as n-dimensional points to be considered individually or clustered using the density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise (DBSCAN) algorithm. The proposed method is tested on two challenging synthetic examples with varying levels of confidence in the structural input data. Results indicate that topological signatures constitute a powerful discriminant to address plausible model heterogeneity. Basic topological signatures appear to be a reliable indicator of the structural behavior of the plausible models and provide useful geological insights. Moreover, ignoring heterogeneity was found to be detrimental to the accuracy and relevance of the probabilistic geological models and uncertainty index models. Highlights. Monte Carlo uncertainty propagation (MCUP) methods often produce topologically distinct plausible models. Plausible models can be differentiated using topological signatures. Topologically similar probabilistic geological models may be obtained through topological signature clustering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1663-1684
Number of pages22
JournalSolid Earth
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019


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