- Tye, Alexander R, Wolf, Aaron S, and Niemi, Nathan A
- Detrital zircon age distributions provide robust insights into past sedimentary systems, but these age distributions are often complex and multi-peaked, with sample sizes too small to confidently resolve population distributions. This limited sampling hinders existing quantitative methods for comparing detrital zircon age distributions, which show systematic dependence on the sizes of compared samples. The proliferation of detrital zircon studies motivates the development of more robust quantitative methods. We present the first attempt, to our knowledge, to infer probability model ensembles (PMEs) for samples of detrital zircon ages using a Bayesian method. Our method infers the parent population age distribution from which a sample is drawn, using a Monte Carlo approach to aggregate a representative set of probability models that is consistent with the constraints that the sample data provide. Using the PMEs inferred from sample data, we develop a new estimate of correspondence between detrital zircon populations called Bayesian Population Correlation (BPC). Tests of BPC on synthetic and real detrital zircon age data show that it is nearly independent from sample size bias, unlike existing correspondence metrics. Robust BPC uncertainties can be readily estimated, enhancing interpretive value. When comparing two partially overlapping zircon age populations where the shared proportion of each population is independently varied, BPC results conform almost perfectly to expected values derived analytically from probability theory. This conformity of experimental and analytical results permits direct inference of the shared proportions of two detrital zircon age populations from BPC. We provide MATLAB scripts to facilitate the procedures we describe.
- provenance, statistics, zircon, Bayesian, detrital, and density estimation
- Citation to related publication:
- A.R. Tye, A.S. Wolf, N.A. Niemi, Bayesian population correlation: A probabilistic approach to inferring and comparing population distributions for detrital zircon ages, Chemical Geology, Volume 518, 2019, Pages 67-78, ISSN 0009-2541, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2019.03.039
- Bayesian Population Correlation: A probabilistic approach to comparing detrital zircon age distributions