An extended Bayesian sediment fingerprinting mixing model for the full Bayes treatment of geochemical uncertainties

Richard J. Cooper, Tobias Krueger

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Recent advances in sediment fingerprinting research have seen Bayesian mixing models being increasingly employed as an effective method to coherently translate component uncertainties into source apportionment results. Here, we advance earlier work by presenting an extended Bayesian mixing model capable of providing a full Bayes treatment of geochemical uncertainties. The performance of the extended full Bayes model was assessed against the equivalent empirical Bayes model and traditional frequentist optimisation. The performance of models coded in different Bayesian software (‘JAGS’ and ‘Stan’) was also evaluated, alongside an assessment of model sensitivity to reduced source representativeness and non-conservative fingerprint behaviour. Results revealed comparable accuracy and precision for the full and empirical Bayes models across both synthetic and real sediment geochemistry datasets, demonstrating that the empirical treatment of source data here represents a close approximation of the full Bayes treatment. Contrasts in the performance of models coded in JAGS and Stan revealed that the choice of software employed can impact significantly upon source apportionment results. Bayesian models coded in Stan were the least sensitive to both reduced source representativeness and non-conservative fingerprint behaviour, indicating Stan as the preferred software for future Bayesian sediment fingerprinting studies. Whilst the frequentist optimisation generally yielded comparable accuracy to the Bayesian models, uncertainties around apportionment estimates were substantially greater and the frequentist model was less effective at dealing with non-conservative behaviour. Overall, the effective performance of the extended full Bayes mixing model coded in Stan represents a notable advancement in source apportionment modelling relative to previous approaches. Both the mixing model and the software comparisons presented here should provide useful guidelines for future sediment fingerprinting studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1900–1912
Number of pages13
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number10
Early online date26 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017


  • Tracing
  • river
  • apportionment
  • uncertainty
  • JAGS
  • Stan

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