Semi-Automatization of Support Vector Machines to Map Lithium (Li) Bearing Pegmatites

Joana Cardoso-Fernandes, Ana C. Teodoro, Alexandre Lima, Encarnación Roda-Robles

Machine learning (ML) algorithms have shown great performance in geological remote sensing applications. The study area of this work was the Fregeneda–Almendra region (Spain–Portugal) where the support vector machine (SVM) was employed. Lithium (Li)-pegmatite exploration using satellite data presents some challenges since pegmatites are, by nature, small, narrow bodies. Consequently, the following objectives were defined: (i) train several SVM’s on Sentinel-2 images with different parameters to find the optimal model; (ii) assess the impact of imbalanced data; (iii) develop a successful methodological approach to delineate target areas for Li-exploration. Parameter optimization and model evaluation was accomplished by a two-staged grid-search with cross-validation. Several new methodological advances were proposed, including a region of interest (ROI)-based splitting strategy to create the training and test subsets, a semi-automatization of the classification process, and the application of a more innovative and adequate metric score to choose the best model. The proposed methodology obtained good results, identifying known Li-pegmatite occurrences as well as other target areas for Li-exploration. Also, the results showed that the class imbalance had a negative impact on the SVM performance since known Li-pegmatite occurrences were not identified. The potentials and limitations of the methodology proposed are highlighted and its applicability to other case studies is discussed. 

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