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The spatial-temporal patterns of land cover changes due to mining activitiesin the Darling Range, Western Australia - A Visual Analytics Approach

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The Darling Range in Western Australia is a major bauxite producing region. Clearing, excavation and rehabilitation activities related to bauxite mining have influenced land cover within this region since mining commenced in the 1960s. This paper presents a study that used machine learning and time series visualisation to analyse the land cover changes of the Darling Range using time-lapse multispectral images, with the aim of
understanding the impact of the mining activities and land rehabilitation patterns of the region. Land cover changes were analysed using 14 Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images between 1988 and 2014. The spatial distribution of land cover was classified automatically using machine learning algorithms, and their temporal changes were visualized for analysis. Supervised classification was carried out based on the six spectral features of the images using three machine learning algorithms, namely support vector machine (SVM), random forest (RF) and Naïve Bayes (NB). The results showed that the RF algorithm achieved overall accuracy, (ratio of correctly classified samples divided by the total number of samples), greater than 95% for all years. The temporal changes of land cover distribution over the study period were visualized using a change map. These
changes were compared with land clearing and rehabilitation records of a mining company operating in that region. A close correlation was observed between the automated analysis outputs and the company’s records. This work demonstrates the potential use of machine analysis in improving the accuracy of spatial data related to land clearing; and in monitoring vegetation recovery of closed and rehabilitated mines.