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UNAVCO installs COCONet cGPS site in Aruba

  • Principal Investigators:
  • UNAVCO Engineers: John Sandru, Mike Fend
  • Date: June 2 — 9, 2013
  • Locations: COCONet Site CN19: Aruba
  • Funding Source: NSF, COCONet

Written by Mike Fend
16 October 2013


Determining how the Caribbean plate moves with respect to the neighboring North America and South America plates has been a major challenge. Geologic plate motion models using seafloor magnetic anomaly rates, transform fault azimuths, and slip vectors are challenging due to sparse data. The only rates come from the Cayman Spreading Center, and seismicity at the eastern boundary is low due to slow convergence. Moreover, the boundary geometry is still unclear, since the Caribbean plate's north and south boundaries are complex deformation zones.

GPS data continues to provide key clues to the Caribbean region’s geologic faults. GPS stations are currently being installed as part of the Continuously Operating Caribbean GPS Observational Network (COCONet), strengthening the indispensible collection of data belonging to a region that faces many atmospheric and geologic natural hazards.

UNAVCO Connection

By collaborating with the Meteorological Department of Aruba, UNAVCO engineers were able to install another cGPS site in the Caribbean. Aruba sits 17 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, is 20 miles long, and is part of the Leeward Antilles. The site is located on the Northwest tip of the island near the California Lighthouse. Every year thousands of tourists come to visit the light house, and now this new cGPS installment. Equipped with an informative sign, this site will provide geodesy science outreach to the thousands of tourists who visit the area each year.


The COCONet project was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the aim of developing a large-scale geodetic and atmospheric infrastructure in the Caribbean that will form the backbone for a broad range of geoscience and atmospheric investigations and enable research on process-oriented science questions with direct relevance to geohazards. The Caribbean Plate is a unique opportunity to monitor movement, because most of the plate rests underwater. Prior to this endeavor there has been limited monitoring of the Caribbean Plate. Furthermore, each site is equipped with a weather station which records vital atmospheric data that is analyzed by our friends at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to monitor the movement of potentially deadly hurricanes.

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Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:27  America/Denver