Written by Henry Berglund
The Rio Grande Rift GPS Experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation's EarthScope program, provides a regional enhancement to the broader Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) network. Its purpose is to measure relative motions at the Earth's surface and determine how the Rio Grande Rift region in Colorado and New Mexico is deforming. As the results published in the journal Geology show, the Rio Grande Rift GPS network has answered the fundamental question in the affirmative: "Is the rift still active?"
Construction and instrumentation of the experiment's 25 GPS monuments located in Colorado and New Mexico began in 2006 and was completed in June of 2007. The project is a collaborative effort among several universities, including the University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and Utah State University. UNAVCO engineers from the Facilty, PBO, and Polar programs carried out the installation of the monuments and instrumentation located at each site. Researchers and students from the participating universities have operated and maintained the network during the past five years with UNAVCO support for troubleshooting and archiving data. Funding for the project was recently renewed by the NSF-EarthScope program, allowing for an additional 3 years of operation and maintenance, which will now be conducted by UNAVCO personnel.
The high-precision instrumentation installed as part of the experiment has provided geodetic measurements of unprecedented accuracy and precision for this particular region. The RGR Experiment was the first regional enhancement of PBO to be funded by NSF using the PBO Portable Instrument Pool, and its success will pave the way for others in areas such as eastern Oregon and the eastern United States. Historically, measurements of deformation within continental interiors have been difficult to capture due to the typically slow, but still geologically significant, rates of deformation within them. This enhanced network of GPS monuments has provided the most detailed measurements of the Rio Grande Rift region to date. A recent article released by the research group has shown that the rift is actively extending. A link to the article's abstract can be found here.
Last modified: Sunday, 11-May-2014 18:00:00 UTC