Quantifying microstructures of earth materials using higher-order spatial correlations and deep generative adversarial networks

Hamed Amiri, Ivan Vasconcelos, Yang Jiao, Pei En Chen, Oliver Plümper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The key to most subsurface processes is to determine how structural and topological features at small length scales, i.e., the microstructure, control the effective and macroscopic properties of earth materials. Recent progress in imaging technology has enabled us to visualise and characterise microstructures at different length scales and dimensions. However, one limitation of these technologies is the trade-off between resolution and sample size (or representativeness). A promising approach to this problem is image reconstruction which aims to generate statistically equivalent microstructures but at a larger scale and/or additional dimension. In this work, a stochastic method and three generative adversarial networks (GANs), namely deep convolutional GAN (DCGAN), Wasserstein GAN with gradient penalty (WGAN-GP), and StyleGAN2 with adaptive discriminator augmentation (ADA), are used to reconstruct two-dimensional images of two hydrothermally rocks with varying degrees of complexity. For the first time, we evaluate and compare the performance of these methods using multi-point spatial correlation functions—known as statistical microstructural descriptors (SMDs)—ultimately used as external tools to the loss functions. Our findings suggest that a well-trained GAN can reconstruct higher-order, spatially-correlated patterns of complex earth materials, capturing underlying structural and morphological properties. Comparing our results with a stochastic reconstruction method based on a two-point correlation function, we show the importance of coupling training/assessment of GANs with higher-order SMDs, especially in the case of complex microstructures. More importantly, by quantifying original and reconstructed microstructures via different GANs, we highlight the interpretability of these SMDs and show how they can provide valuable insights into the spatial patterns in the synthetic images, allowing us to detect common artefacts and failure cases in training GANs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1805
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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