I am looking for some geological data where presenting it in a rose diagram is desirable. I don't really know what kind of data is suitable. Any suggestion of data — preferably from the field of stratigraphy or petrology (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic) — would be useful.

Also are there any good reference book on rose diagrams? Thank you.


2 Answers 2


Rose diagrams, also called polar bar plots, are useful for showing azimuthal (directional) data. Any dataset consisting of lots of measurements of direction or orientation could be visualized this way.

A common application in sedimentology is visualizing measured cross-bedding azimuths. This can help work out the palaeocurrent direction (that is, the direction of the prevailing wind or current at the time). This paper by Sengupta and Rao has some examples and some data.

The rose diagram display is also often used by structual geologists, to visualize the measured orientations of folds, faults, or other strain indicators. Here's an example (on page 10 of the PDF) from Twiss & Moores's Structural Geology book.

One way to generate a lot of data yourself would be to find a geological map with lots of faults or dip/strike indicators on it, and then measure their angles (clockwise from N).

I'm not sure which came first, but I suspect the design was originally conceived for wind data.


In seismic acquisition and processing rose plots are essential. Another way to think of these plots is "angular histograms." This article article shows rose plots for a subsurface point using this picture:rose plot for common midpoint.

What you are seeing in plots A,B, and C is the the azimuthal coverage of subsurface seismic ray paths for an "average" point in the survey. So in plot A, very near the point there is not much trace density, but further away at azimuths trending to the upper left/lower right there is more density.

In other words, the point was sampled primarily along a NW/SE direction. In plot B, the survey was shot to sample the points along a NE/SW direction. In plot C, we see the results of stacking the two surveys.

These plots are critical because sampling the point from different directions gives us new information, and these plots let us see what information we may be lacking in order to design new surveys to add more information.

If you want to play around with creating polar plots, I recommend the free software GMT, generic mapping tools to get started. It can create just about any type of polar plot you want. There are newsgroups and user forums for help as well.

In python, polar and rose plots can also be created different ways, one is Plotly. If you are familiar with python, it might work well for you. Below is a sample Plotly rose plot. Plotly rose plot


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