Uncertainty in geological interpretations: Effectiveness of expert elicitations

Charles H Randle, Clare E Bond, R. Murray Lark, Alison A. Monaghan

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Uncertainty in geological interpretations creates and often unquantified risk for subsurface industries. The challenge of quantifying interpretation uncertainty has been addressed using various methods. For interpretation of borehole data, empirical quantification of uncertainties can be derived from comparison of interpretations with a withheld set of borehole data not used in the interpretation. This approach requires dense, high-quality borehole data sets. A proposed alternative is to use expert elicitation to extract expert geologists’ mental models of uncertainty. We investigated whether expert elicitations are a viable alternative to the direct quantification of uncertainty in three different geological settings by comparing elicited distributions to empirically derived
uncertainty distributions. We show that uncertainty distributions derived from expert elicitations are different from those observed in empirical uncertainty quantification. This means that expert elicitations are not as appropriate for estimating uncertainty as these empirical approaches. Expert elicitations, however, offer other benefits to an interpretation workflow, such as providing insight into and challenging different conceptual models of the geology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-118
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank all those who took part in our elicitations, as well as all those who helped in their facilitation. This work was undertaken while C.H. Randle held a joint University of Aberdeen, College of Physical Science Ph.D. Award and British Geological Survey University Funding Initiative (BUFI) Ph.D. Studentship at Aberdeen University, through Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The contributions by C.H. Randle, R.M. Lark, and A.A. Monaghan are published with the permission of the Executive Director of BGS (NERC). The authors would like to thank Hazel Gibson and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on the manuscript and confirm that all views expressed are the opinions of the authors.




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