Image analysis and circular statistics for shape-fabric analysis: applications to lithified ignimbrites
Computer-assisted image analysis can be successfully used to derive quantitative textural data on pyroclastic rock samples. This method provides a large number of different measurements such as grain size, particle shape and 2D orientation of particle main axes (directional- or shape-fabric) automatically and in a relatively short time. Orientation data reduction requires specific statistical tests, mainly devoted to defining the kind of particle distribution pattern, the possible occurrence of preferred particle orientation, the confidence interval of the mean direction and the degree of randomness with respect to pre-assigned theoretical frequency distributions. Data obtained from image analysis of seven lithified ignimbrite samples from the Vulsini Volcanic District (Central Italy) are used to test different statistics and to provide insight about directional fabrics. First, the possible occurrence of a significant deviation from a theoretical circular uniform distribution was evaluated by using the Rayleigh and Tukey χ2 tests. Then, the Kuiper test was performed to evaluate whether or not the observation fits with a unimodal, Von Mises-like theoretical frequency distribution. Finally, the confidence interval of mean direction was calculated. With the exception of one sample (FPD10), which showed a well-developed bimodality, all the analysed samples display significant anisotropic and unimodal distributions. The minimum number of measurements necessary to obtain reasonable variabilities of the calculated statistics and mean directions was evaluated by repeating random collections of the measured particles at increments of 100 particles for each sample. Although the observed variabilities depend largely on the pattern of distribution and an absolute minimum number cannot be stated, approximately 1500-2000 measurements are required in order to get meaningful mean directions for the analysed samples.