Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 101–128 | Cite as

Kriging and Semivariogram Deconvolution in the Presence of Irregular Geographical Units



This paper presents a methodology to conduct geostatistical variography and interpolation on areal data measured over geographical units (or blocks) with different sizes and shapes, while accounting for heterogeneous weight or kernel functions within those units. The deconvolution method is iterative and seeks the point-support model that minimizes the difference between the theoretically regularized semivariogram model and the model fitted to areal data. This model is then used in area-to-point (ATP) kriging to map the spatial distribution of the attribute of interest within each geographical unit. The coherence constraint ensures that the weighted average of kriged estimates equals the areal datum.

This approach is illustrated using health data (cancer rates aggregated at the county level) and population density surface as a kernel function. Simulations are conducted over two regions with contrasting county geographies: the state of Indiana and four states in the Western United States. In both regions, the deconvolution approach yields a point support semivariogram model that is reasonably close to the semivariogram of simulated point values. The use of this model in ATP kriging yields a more accurate prediction than a naïve point kriging of areal data that simply collapses each county into its geographic centroid. ATP kriging reduces the smoothing effect and is robust with respect to small differences in the point support semivariogram model. Important features of the point-support semivariogram, such as the nugget effect, can never be fully validated from areal data. The user may want to narrow down the set of solutions based on his knowledge of the phenomenon (e.g., set the nugget effect to zero). The approach presented avoids the visual bias associated with the interpretation of choropleth maps and should facilitate the analysis of relationships between variables measured over different spatial supports.


Simulation Change of support Choropleth map Disaggregation 


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geology 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BioMedwareAnn ArborUSA

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