FabricS: A User-Friendly, Complete and Robust Software for Particle Shape-Fabric Analysis

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Shape-fabric is a textural parameter related to the spatial arrangement of elongated particles in geological samples. Its usefulness spans a range from sedimentary petrology to igneous and metamorphic petrology. Independently of the process being studied, when a material flows, the elongated particles are oriented with the major axis in the direction of flow. In sedimentary petrology this information has been used for studies of paleo-flow direction of turbidites, the origin of quartz sediments, and locating ignimbrite vents, among others. In addition to flow direction and its polarity, the method enables flow rheology to be inferred. The use of shape-fabric has been limited due to the difficulties of automatically measuring particles and analyzing them with reliable circular statistics programs. This has dampened interest in the method for a long time. Shape-fabric measurement has increased in popularity since the 1980s thanks to the development of new image analysis techniques and circular statistics software. However, the programs currently available are unreliable, old and are incompatible with newer operating systems, or require programming skills. The goal of our work is to develop a user-friendly program, in the MATLAB environment, with a graphical user interface, that can process images and includes editing functions, and thresholds (elongation and size) for selecting a particle population and analyzing it with reliable circular statistics algorithms. Moreover, the method also has to produce rose diagrams, orientation vectors, and a complete series of statistical parameters. All these requirements are met by our new software. In this paper, we briefly explain the methodology from collection of oriented samples in the field to the minimum number of particles needed to obtain reliable fabric data. We obtained the data using specific statistical tests and taking into account the degree of iso-orientation of the samples and the required degree of reliability. The program has been verified by means of several simulations performed using appropriately designed features and by analyzing real samples.