Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Geography and Geosciences

Degree Program

Geography (Applied), MS

Committee Chair

Hadizadeh, Jafar

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gaughan, Andrea

Committee Member

Gaughan, Andrea

Committee Member

Stevens, Forrest

Committee Member

Farag, Aly

Author's Keywords

Geographic information systems (GIS); spatial analysis; structural geology; remote sensing; microstructural data; SAFOD


Core samples obtained from scientific drilling could provide large volumes of direct microstructural and compositional data, but generating results via the traditional treatment of such data is often time-consuming and inefficient. Unifying microstructural data within a spatially referenced Geographic Information System (GIS) environment provides an opportunity to readily locate, visualize, correlate, and explore the available microstructural data. Using 26 core billet samples from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), this study developed procedures for: 1. A GIS-based approach for spatially referenced visualization and storage of microstructural data from drill core billet samples; and 2. Producing 3D models of sample billets and thin section positions within each billet, which serve as a digital record after irreversible material loss and fragmentation of physical billets. This approach permits spatial registration of 2D thin section ‘base maps’ within the core sample billets, where each billet is represented by 3D solid surface (produced via SFM photogrammetry) and internal structure models (acquired with micro-CT scans) created prior to sectioning. The spatial positions of the base maps were established within locally defined coordinate systems in each core billet’s solid surface model. The GIS database structure provided interactive linkage to the results of various analyses performed throughout the map at a wide range of scales (e.g. SEM and CL images as well as text and numerical data) within each thin section. The viability of the proposed framework was demonstrated via display of integrated microstructural data, creation of vector point information associated with features of interest in CL imagery, and development of a model for extraction and unsupervised classification of a multi-generation calcite vein network from the CL imagery. The results indicate that a GIS can facilitate the spatial treatment of 2D and 3D data even at centimeter to nanometer scales, building upon existing work which is predominantly limited to the 2D space of single thin sections. Conversely, the research effort also revealed several challenges, particularly involving intensive 3D representations and complex matrix transformations required to create geographically translated forms of the within-billet coordinate systems, which are suggested for consideration in future studies.