Frontiers of Earth Science

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Landform classification based on optimal texture feature extraction from DEM data in Shandong Hilly Area, China
Hongchun ZHU, Yuexue XU, Yu CHENG, Haiying LIU, Yipeng ZHAO
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-019-0751-2
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Texture and its analysis methods are crucial for image feature extraction and classification. Digital elevation model (DEM) is the most important data source of digital terrain analysis and landform classification, and considerable research values are gained from texture feature extraction and analysis from DEM data. In this research, on the basis of optimal texture feature extraction, the hilly area in Shandong, China, was selected as the study area, and DEM data with a resolution of 500 m were used as the experimental data for landform classification. First, second-order texture measures and texture image were extracted from DEM data by using a gray level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM). Second, the variation characteristics of each texture measure were analyzed, and the optimal feature parameters, such as direction, gray level, and texture window, were determined. Meanwhile, the texture feature value, combined with maximum information, was calculated, and the multiband texture image was obtained by resolving three optimal texture measure images. Finally, a support vector machine (SVM) method was adopted to classify landforms on the basis of the multiband texture image. Results indicated that the texture features of DEM data can be sufficiently represented and measured via the quantitative GLCM method. However, the feature parameters during the texture feature value calculation required further optimization. Based on the image texture from DEM data, efficient classification accuracy and ideal classification effect were achieved.

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Accumulation of unconventional petroleum resources and their coexistence characteristics in Chang7 shale formations of Ordos Basin in central China
Jingwei CUI, Rukai ZHU, Zhiguo MAO, Shixiang LI
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-019-0756-x
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The Ordos Basin is the largest oil and gas producing basin in China, where tight oil, shale gas, oil shale, and other unconventional oil and gas resources have been found in the Chang7 subsection of the Triassic Yanchang Formation. However, the mechanism of formation and the distribution of unconventional oil and gas resources in the shale layers have not been systematically investigated until now. According to the type of unconventional oil and gas resources, main controlling factors, and the maturity, depth and abundance of organic matters, the shale oil and gas resources from Chang7 region are divided into five zones that include an outcrop-shallow oil shale zone, a middle-matured and medium-burial shale oil zone, a medium-matured and medium-burial in situ conversion process (ICP) shale oil zone, a high-maturity and deep-burial shale gas zone, and an adjacent-interbedded tight sandstone oil zone. By the distribution of resources, orderly evolution of oil and gas resources and coexistences in lacustrine shale formations have been put forward, and also a strategy of integrated exploration and development of resources in the shale formations is proposed. Overall, the outcome of this study may guide on the effective utilization of unconventional oil and gas resources in other shale formations.

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Simulation of Moon-based Earth observation optical image processing methods for global change study
Tong LI, Huadong GUO, Li ZHANG, Chenwei NIE, Jingjuan LIAO, Guang LIU
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-019-0749-9
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Global change affected by multiple factors, the consequences of which continue to be far-reaching, has the characteristics of large spatial scale and long-time scale. The demand for Earth observation technology has been increasing for large-scale simultaneous observations and stable global observation over the long-term. A Moon-based observation platform, which uses sensors on the nearside lunar surface, is considered a reasonable solution. However, owing to a lack of appropriate processing methods for optical sensor data, global change study using this platform is not sufficient. This paper proposes two optical sensor imaging processing methods for the Moon-based platform: area imaging processing method (AIPM) and global imaging processing method (GIPM), primarily considering global change characteristics, optical sensor performance, and motion law of the Moon-based platform. First, the study proposes a simulation theory which includes the construction of a Moon–Sun elevation angle model and a global image mosaicking method. Then, coverage images of both image processing methods are simulated, and their features are quantitatively analyzed. Finally, potential applications are discussed. Results show that AIPM, whose coverage is mainly affected by lunar revolution, is approximately between 0% and 50% with a period of 29.5 days, which can help the study of large-scale instant change phenomena. GIPM, whose coverage is affected by Earth revolution, is conducive to the study of long term global-scale phenomena because of its sustained stable observation from 67°N–67°S on the Earth. AIPM and GIPM have great advantages in Earth observation of tripolar regions. The existence of top of the atmosphere (TOA) albedo balance line is verified from the GIPM perspective. These two imaging methods play a significant role in linking observations acquired from the Moon-based platform to Earth large-scale geoscience phenomena, and thus lay a foundation for using this platform to capture global environmental changes and new discoveries.

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Influence of depositional environment on coalbed methane accumulation in the Carboniferous-Permian coal of the Qinshui Basin, northern China
Haihai HOU, Longyi SHAO, Shuai WANG, Zhenghui XIAO, Xuetian WANG, Zhen LI, Guangyuan MU
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0742-8
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Based on analyses of the lithofacies palaeogeography of the Taiyuan and the Shanxi Formations in the Qinshui Basin, the spatial variations of the coal seam thickness, coal maceral composition, coal quality, and gas content, together with the lithofacies of the surrounding rocks in each palaeogeographic unit were investigated. The results show that the thick coals of the Taiyuan Formation are mainly distributed in delta and barrier island depositional units in the Yangquan area in the northern part of the basin and the Zhangzi area in the southeastern part of the basin. The thick coals of the Shanxi Formation are located within transitional areas between delta plain and delta front depositional units in the central southern part of the basin. The Taiyuan Formation generally includes mudstone in its lower part, thick, continuous coal seams and limestones in its middle part, and thin, discontinuous coal seams and limestone and sand-mud interbeds in its top part. The Shanxi Formation consists of thick, continuous sandstones in its lower part, thick coal seams in its middle part, and thin coal seams, sandstone, and thick mudstone in its upper part. From the perspective of coal-bearing sedimentology and coalbed methane (CBM) geology, the lithology and thickness of the surrounding rocks of coal seams play more significant roles in controlling gas content variation than other factors such as coal thickness, coal macerals, and coal quality. Furthermore, it is found that the key factors influencing the gas content variation are the thicknesses of mudstone and limestone overlying a coal seam. At similar burial depths, the gas content of the Taiyuan coal seams decreases gradually in the lower delta plain, barrier-lagoon, delta front, barrier-tidal flat, and carbonate platform depositional units. The CBM enrichment areas tend to be located in zones of poorly developed limestone and well-developed mudstone. In addition, the gas content of the Shanxi Formation is higher in the coals of the delta front facies compared to those in the lower delta plain. The CBM enrichment areas tend to be associated with the thicker mudstones. Therefore, based on the lithologic distribution and thickness of the rocks overlying the coal seam in each palaeogeographic unit of the Taiyuan and Shanxi Formations, the areas with higher gas content are located in the north-central basin for the Taiyuan coals and in the southern basin for the Shanxi coals. Both of these areas should be favorable for CBM exploration in the Qinshui Basin.

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An unsupervised learning approach to study synchroneity of past events in the South China Sea
Kevin C. Tse, Hon-Chim Chiu, Man-Yin Tsang, Yiliang Li, Edmund Y. Lam
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-019-0748-x
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Unsupervised machine learning methods were applied on multivariate geophysical and geochemical datasets of ocean floor sediment cores collected from the South China Sea. The well-preserved and continuous core samples comprising high resolution Cenozoic sediment records enable scientists to carry out paleoenvironment studies in detail. Bayesian age-depth chronological models constructed from biostratigraphic control points for the drilling sites are applied on cluster boundaries generated from two popular unsupervised learning methods: K-means and random forest. The unsupervised learning methods experimented have produced compact and unambiguous clusters from the datasets, indicating that previously unknown data patterns can be revealed when all variables from the datasets are taken into account simultaneously. A study of synchroneity of past events represented by the cluster boundaries across geographically separated ocean drilling sites is achieved through converting the fixed depths of cluster boundaries into chronological ranges represented by Gaussian density plots which are then compared with known past events in the region. A Gaussian density peak at around 7.2 Ma has been identified from results of all three sites and it is suggested to coincide with the initiation of the East Asian monsoon. Contrary to traditional statistical approach, a priori assumptions are not required for unsupervised learning, and the clustering results serve as a novel data-driven proxy for studying the complex and dynamic processes of the paleoenvironment surrounding the ocean sediment. This work serves as a pioneering approach to extract valuable information of regional events and opens up a systematic and objective way to study the vast global ocean sediment datasets.

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The barrier river reach identification and classification in the Middle Yangtze River
Jinwu TANG, Chunyan HU, Xingying YOU, Yunping YANG, Xiaofeng ZHANG, Jinyun DENG, Meng CHEN
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0689-9
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Adjustments of upstream river regimes are one of the main factors affecting downstream fluvial processes. However, not all adjustments of river regimes will propagate downstream. There are some distinctive river reaches where upstream and downstream adjustments have no relevance. However, the irrelevance is neither caused by different river types nor by the different conditions of water and sediment; but rather, the channel boundaries and riverbed morphologies block the propagation effect. These are referred to here as the barrier river reach phenomena. The migration of the thalweg line is the essential reason for causing the propagation effect. Numerous influencing factors for thalweg migration exist, including 1) the average flow rate above the critical bankfull discharge, the average flow rate below the critical bankfull discharge, and their ratio, 2) the ratio of the duration of the aforementioned two periods, 3) the thalweg displacement at the entrance of the river reach, 4) the deflecting flow intensity of the node, 5) the ratio of the river width to water depth, 6) the relative width of the floodplain, and 7) the Shields number. In this study, the correlativity between the measured distances and the restricting indicators of thalweg migration in the Middle Yangtze River over the years was established. The barrier degree of 27 single-thread river reaches was subsequently assessed. These reaches included 4 barrier river reaches; 5 transitional reaches transforming from barrier to non-barrier; 10 transitional reaches transforming from non-barrier to barrier; and 8 non-barrier river reaches. Barrier river reaches were found to be important for maintaining the stability of the river regime and the transverse equilibrium of sediment transport in the downstream reaches. To some extent, the barrier river reaches may protect the natural dynamical properties from being destroyed by artificial river regulation works. Thus, they are of great significance for river management.

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Spatiotemporal influences of land use/cover changes on the heat island effect in rapid urbanization area
Ying XIONG, Fen PENG, Bin ZOU
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0747-3
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Rapid urban sprawl and growth led to substantial urban thermal environment changes and influenced the local climate, environment, and quality of life of residents. Taking the Chang-Zhu-Tan urban agglomeration in China as a case, this study firstly identified the spatiotemporal patterns of surface urban heat island intensity (SUHII) and the land use/cover changes (LUCC) based on multi-temporal Landsat TM satellite data over 21 years, and then investigated the relationship between LUCC and SUHII by methods of logistic regression model and centroid shift analysis. The results showed that green spaces (e.g., cropland, forestland) of 899.13 km2 had been converted to built-up land during the 1994–2015 period, which caused significant urban expansion. The SUHII was the highest for built-up land, high for unused land, low for cropland and grassland, and the lowest for forestland and open water. Many areas experienced extensive rapid urbanization because of the emergence of the urban agglomeration, which resulted in the loss of green spaces and increased SUHI effects over the 21-year study period. In addition, the results of centroid shift analysis found that the growth of SUHII and the expansion of high SUHII areas are closely related to the expansion of an existing urban area in Xiangtan, while the increases of building density and height in Changsha resulted in the decrease of SUHII and spatiotemporal change of high SUHII areas. The analysis of the effects of land use/cover types on the SUHII in this study will contribute to future urban land use allocation for the mitigation of SUHI formation.

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Analysis of ship wake features and extraction of ship motion parameters from SAR images in the Yellow Sea
Kaiguo FAN, Huaguo ZHANG, Jianjun LIANG, Peng CHEN, Bojian XU, Ming ZHANG
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0743-7
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The identifying features of ship wakes in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing images are of great importance for detecting ships and for extracting ship motion parameters. A statistical analysis was conducted on the identifying features of ship wakes in SAR images in the Yellow Sea. In this study, 1091 ship wake sub-images were selected from 327 SAR images in the Yellow Sea near Qingdao. Analysis of the identifying features of ship wakes in SAR images revealed that both turbulent wakes and Kelvin wakes account for the majority of ship wakes, with turbulent wakes occurring approximately four times as frequently as Kelvin wakes. Narrow-V wakes and internal wave wakes were comparatively rare, which is due to the peculiarities of the radar system parameters and marine environments required to observe these wakes. Additionally, we extracted ship motion parameters from four types of ship wakes in the SAR images. Specifically, internal wave wakes in SAR images in the Yellow Sea were also used to extract ship motion parameters. Validation of the extracted parameters indicated that the extraction of these parameters from ship wakes is a viable and accurate approach for the acquisition of ship motion parameters. These results provide a solid foundation for the commercialization of SAR-based technologies for detecting ships and extracting ship motion parameters.

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Detection of short-term urban land use changes by combining SAR time series images and spectral angle mapping
Zhuokun PAN, Yueming HU, Guangxing WANG
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0744-6
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Rapid urban sprawl and re-construction of old towns have been leading to great changes of land use in cities of China. To witness short-term urban land use changes, rapid or real time remote sensing images and effective detection methods are required. With the availability of short repeat cycle, relatively high spatial resolution, and weather-independent Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remotely sensed data, detection of short-term urban land use changes becomes possible. This paper adopts newly released Sentinel-1 SAR data for urban change detection in Tianhe District of Guangzhou City in Southern China, where dramatic urban redevelopment practices have been taking place in past years. An integrative method that combines the SAR time series data and a spectral angle mapping (SAM) was developed and applied to detect the short-term land use changes. Linear trend transformations of the SAR time series data were first conducted to reveal patterns of substantial changes. Spectral mixture analysis was then conducted to extract temporal endmembers to reflect the land development patterns based on the SAR backscattering intensities over time. Moreover, SAM was applied to extract the information of significant increase and decrease patterns. The results of validation and method comparison showed a significant capability of both the proposed method and the SAR time series images for detecting the short-term urban land use changes. The method received an overall accuracy of 78%, being more accurate than that using a bi-temporal image change detection method. The results revealed land use conversions due to the removal of old buildings and their replacement by new construction. This implies that SAR time series data reflects the spatiotemporal evolution of urban constructed areas within a short time period and this study provided the potential for detecting changes that requires continuously short-term capability, and could be potential in other landscapes.

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Water level variation characteristics under the impacts of extreme drought and the operation of the Three Gorges Dam
Yuanfang CHAI, Yitian LI, Yunping YANG, Sixuan LI, Wei ZHANG, Jinqiu REN, Haibin XIONG
Front. Earth Sci.    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0739-3
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Under the influence of a climate of extreme drought and the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) operation, the water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in 2006 and 2011 changed significantly compared with those in the extreme drought years of 1978 and 1986. To quantitatively analyze the characteristics of water level variations in 2006 and 2011, a new calculation method was proposed, and the daily water level and discharge from 1955–2016 were collected in this study. The findings are as follows: in 2006 and 2011, the water level in the dry season significantly increased, but that in the flood season obviously decreased compared with the levels in 1978 and 1986. Here, we described this phenomenon as “no low-water-level in dry season, no high-water-level in flood season”. Based on the calculation method, the contributions of climate variability and the Three Gorges Dam operation to water level variations in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River were calculated, and the contributions indicated that climate variability was the main reason for the phenomenon of “no low-water-level in dry season, no high-water-level in flood season” instead of flood peak reduction in the flood season and drought runoff implementation in the dry season, which are both induced by TGD.

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