Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
GOOVAERTS, P.. Geostatistics: a common link between medical geography, mathematical geology, and medical geology. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.8, pp. 605-613. ISSN 2411-9717.
SYNOPSIS Since its development in the mining industry, geostatistics has emerged as the primary tool for spatial data analysis in various fields, ranging from earth and atmospheric sciences to agriculture, soil science, remote sensing, and more recently environmental exposure assessment. In the last few years, these tools have been tailored to the field of medical geography or spatial epidemiology, which is concerned with the study of spatial patterns of disease incidence and mortality and the identification of potential 'causes' of disease, such as environmental exposure, diet and unhealthy behaviours, economic or socio-demographic factors. On the other hand, medical geology is an emerging interdisciplinary scientific field studying the relationship between natural geological factors and their effects on human and animal health. This paper provides an introduction to the field of medical geology with an overview of geostatistical methods available for the analysis of geological and health data. Key concepts are illustrated using the mapping of groundwater arsenic concentration across eleven Michigan counties and the exploration of its relationship to the incidence of prostate cancer at the township level.
Keywords : geostatistics; medical geology; spatial epidemology; groundwater; arsenic.