On the use of non-euclidean distance measures in geostatistics

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62 Scopus citations


In many scientific disciplines, straight line, Euclidean distances may not accurately describe proximity relationships among spatial data. However, non-Euclidean distance measures must be used with caution in geostatistical applications. A simple example is provided to demonstrate there are no guarantees that existing covariance and variogram functions remain valid (i.e. positive definite or conditionally negative definite) when used with a non-Euclidean distance measure. There are certain distance measures that when used with existing covariance and variogram functions remain valid, an issue that is explored. The concept of isometric embedding is introduced and linked to the concepts of positive and conditionally negative definiteness to demonstrate classes of valid norm dependent isotropic covariance and variogram functions, results many of which have yet to appear in the mainstream geostatistical literature or application. These classes of functions extend the well known classes by adding a parameter to define the distance norm. In practice, this distance parameter can be set a priori to represent, for example, the Euclidean distance, or kept as a parameter to allow the data to choose the metric. A simulated application of the latter is provided for demonstration. Simulation results are also presented comparing kriged predictions based on Euclidean distance to those based on using a water metric.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-926
Number of pages20
JournalMathematical Geology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Conditionally negative definite
  • Euclidean distance
  • Isometric embedding
  • Positive definite
  • Spatial dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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