Abstract

Interpretation of gravity and magnetic data for exploration applications may be based on pattern recognition in which geophysical signatures of geologic features associated with localized characteristics are sought within data. A crucial control on what comprises noticeable and comparable characteristics in a data set is how images displaying those data are enhanced. Interpreters are provided with various image enhancement and display tools to assist their interpretation, although the effectiveness of these tools to improve geologic feature detection is difficult to measure. We addressed this challenge by analyzing how image enhancement methods impact the interpreter’s visual attention when interpreting the data because features that are more salient to the human visual system are more likely to be noticed. We used geologic target-spotting exercises within images generated from magnetic data to assess commonly used magnetic data visualization methods for their visual saliency. Our aim was achieved in two stages. In the first stage, we identified a suitable saliency detection algorithm that can computationally predict visual attention of magnetic data interpreters. The computer vision community has developed various image saliency detection algorithms, and we assessed which algorithm best matches the interpreter’s data observation patterns for magnetic target-spotting exercises. In the second stage, we applied this saliency detection algorithm to understand potential visual biases for commonly used magnetic data enhancement methods. We developed a guide to choosing image enhancement methods, based on saliency maps that minimize unintended visual biases in magnetic data interpretation, and some recommendations for identifying exploration targets in different types of magnetic data.

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