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Machine Learning for Geophysical & Geochemical Signals

Laura Pyrak-Nolte · James Rustad · Richard Baraniuk

Room 515

The interpretation of Earth's subsurface evolution from full waveform analysis requires a method to identify the key signal components related to the evolution in physical properties from changes in stress, fluids, geochemical interactions and other natural and anthropogenic processes. The analysis of seismic waves and other geophysical/geochemical signals remains for the most part a tedious task that geoscientists may perform by visual inspection of the available seismograms. The complexity and noisy nature of a broad array of geoscience signals combined with sparse and irregular sampling make this analysis difficult and imprecise. In addition, many signal components are ignored in tomographic imaging and continuous signal analysis that may prevent discovery of previously unrevealed signals that may point to new physics.

Ideally a detailed interpretation of the geometric contents of these data sets would provide valuable prior information for the solution of corresponding inverse problems. This unsatisfactory state of affairs is indicative of a lack of effective and robust algorithms for the computational parsing and interpretation of seismograms (and other geoscience data sets). Indeed, the limited frequency content, strong nonlinearity, temporally scattered nature of these signals make their analysis with standard signal processing techniques difficult and insufficient.

Once important seismic phases are identified, the next challenge is determining the link between a remotely-measured geophysical response and a characteristic property (or properties) of the fractures and fracture system. While a strong laboratory-based foundation has established a link between the mechanical properties of simple fracture systems (i.e. single fractures, parallel sets of fractures) and elastic wave scattering, bridging to the field scale faces additional complexity and a range of length scales that cannot be achieved from laboratory insight alone. This fundamental knowledge gap at the critical scale for long-term monitoring and risk assessment can only be narrowed or closed with the development of appropriate mathematical and numerical representations at each scale and across scales using multiphysics models that traverse spatial and temporal scales.

Major breakthroughs in bridging the knowledge gaps in geophysical sensing are anticipated as more researchers turn to machine learning (ML) techniques; however, owing to the inherent complexity of machine learning methods, they are prone to misapplication, may produce uninterpretable models, and are often insufficiently documented. This combination of attributes hinders both reliable assessment of model validity and consistent interpretation of model outputs. By providing documented datasets and challenging teams to apply fully documented workflows for ML approaches, we expect to accelerate progress in the application of data science to longstanding research issues in geophysics.

The goals of this workshop are to:
(1) bring together experts from different fields of ML and geophysics to explore the use of ML techniques related to the identification of the physics contained in geophysical and chemical signals, as well as from images of geologic materials (minerals, fracture patterns, etc.); and
(2) announce a set of geophysics machine learning challenges to the community that address earthquake detection and the physics of rupture and the timing of earthquakes.

Target Audience
We aim to elicit new connections among these diverse fields, identify novel tools and models that can be transferred from one to the other, and explore novel ML applications that will benefit from ML algorithms paradigm. We believe that a successful workshop will lead to new research directions in a variety of areas and will also inspire the development of novel theories and tools.

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Timezone: America/Los_Angeles


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