Image analysis computer systems, developed for the study of remotely-sensed data, provide a powerful method for handling spatial data in digital-image formats.

Recent developments in image creation techniques, using point and line data, and the digital image processing of the derived images, enable interactive colour mapping and statistical analysis of integrated geological and geochemical data to be performed. The system, developed jointly by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Experimental Cartography Unit (ECU), is based on an International Imaging Systems (I2S) Model 70 computer and allows the geochemical signatures, or associations of trace elements for particular geological units, to be studied in terms of lithological or stratigraphical groups or subgroups, on a regional or local scale.

This paper describes the techniques used to create the geochemical digital images and geological region-of-interest sub-images for the Moray-Buchan region of Scotland. The application of image processing and image analysis methods available for geochemical mapping and the identification of geochemical signatures of specific geological units are discussed with reference to the Moine-Dalradian geochemistry, mineral exploration, heat production, medical geography (epidemiology) and agricultural studies.

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