Typing mineral deposits using their grades and tonnages in an artificial neural network

Natural Resources Research
By:  and 



A test of the ability of a probabilistic neural network to classify deposits into types on the basis of deposit tonnage and average Cu, Mo, Ag, Au, Zn, and Pb grades is conducted. The purpose is to examine whether this type of system might serve as a basis for integrating geoscience information available in large mineral databases to classify sites by deposit type. Benefits of proper classification of many sites in large regions are relatively rapid identification of terranes permissive for deposit types and recognition of specific sites perhaps worthy of exploring further.

Total tonnages and average grades of 1,137 well-explored deposits identified in published grade and tonnage models representing 13 deposit types were used to train and test the network. Tonnages were transformed by logarithms and grades by square roots to reduce effects of skewness. All values were scaled by subtracting the variable's mean and dividing by its standard deviation. Half of the deposits were selected randomly to be used in training the probabilistic neural network and the other half were used for independent testing. Tests were performed with a probabilistic neural network employing a Gaussian kernel and separate sigma weights for each class (type) and each variable (grade or tonnage).

Deposit types were selected to challenge the neural network. For many types, tonnages or average grades are significantly different from other types, but individual deposits may plot in the grade and tonnage space of more than one type. Porphyry Cu, porphyry Cu-Au, and porphyry Cu-Mo types have similar tonnages and relatively small differences in grades. Redbed Cu deposits typically have tonnages that could be confused with porphyry Cu deposits, also contain Cu and, in some situations, Ag. Cyprus and kuroko massive sulfide types have about the same tonnages. Cu, Zn, Ag, and Au grades. Polymetallic vein, sedimentary exhalative Zn-Pb, and Zn-Pb skarn types contain many of the same metals. Sediment-hosted Au, Comstock Au-Ag, and low-sulfide Au-quartz vein types are principally Au deposits with differing amounts of Ag.

Given the intent to test the neural network under the most difficult conditions, an overall 75% agreement between the experts and the neural network is considered excellent. Among the largestclassification errors are skarn Zn-Pb and Cyprus massive sulfide deposits classed by the neuralnetwork as kuroko massive sulfides—24 and 63% error respectively. Other large errors are the classification of 92% of porphyry Cu-Mo as porphyry Cu deposits. Most of the larger classification errors involve 25 or fewer training deposits, suggesting that some errors might be the result of small sample size. About 91% of the gold deposit types were classed properly and 98% of porphyry Cu deposits were classes as some type of porphyry Cu deposit. An experienced economic geologist would not make many of the classification errors that were made by the neural network because the geologic settings of deposits would be used to reduce errors. In a separate test, the probabilistic neural network correctly classed 93% of 336 deposits in eight deposit types when trained with presence or absence of 58 minerals and six generalized rock types. The overall success rate of the probabilistic neural network when trained on tonnage and average grades would probably be more than 90% with additional information on the presence of a few rock types.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Typing mineral deposits using their grades and tonnages in an artificial neural network
Series title Natural Resources Research
DOI 10.1023/A:1025128021384
Volume 12
Issue 3
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 201
Last page 208