Written by John Sandru and Beth Bartel
11 February 2015
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 worked with the Fundación Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismológicas (funvisis) to install two of six new COCONet GPS sites in Venezuela: sites CN39 - Quebrada Arriba and CN41 - El Baul. The sites were installed during daytime temperatures around 40°C, or 105°F, making midday work extremely difficult. Data are flowing from CN39 despite a slow Internet connection; we are currently troubleshooting a communications failure at CN41.
We plan on installing two additional GPS sites in March 2015: CN43 - Isla La Blanquilla and CN42 - Los Roques. An additional site will be upgraded to COCONet standards.
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.
Last modified: 2020-01-28 22:54:34 America/Denver