Bias in estimating fractal dimension with the rescaled-range (R/S) technique

Colin P. North, D I Halliwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Fractal geostatistics are being applied to subsurface geological data as a way of predicting the spatial distribution of hydrocarbon reservoir properties. The fractal dimension is the controlling parameter in stochastic methods to produce random fields of porosity and permeability. Rescaled range (R/S) analysis has become a popular way of estimating the fractal dimension, via determination of the Hurst exponent (H). A systematic investigation has been undertaken of the bias to be expected due to a range of factors commonly inherent in borehole data, particularly downhole wireline logs. The results are integrated with a review of previous work in this area. Small datasets, overlapping samples, drift and nonstationarity of means can produce a very large bias, and convergence of estimates of H around 0.85-0.90 regardless of original fractal dimension. Nonstationarity can also account for H > 1, which has been reported in the literature but which is theoretically impossible for fractal time series. These results call into question the validity of fractal stochastic models built using fractal dimensions estimated with the R/S method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-555
Number of pages25
JournalMathematical Geology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994


  • geostatistics
  • fractals
  • spatial analysis
  • permeability modeling


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