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Geodetic Science Snapshots - Human Dimensions

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Catching a Tall Building’s Response to an Earthquake with GPS

An 86-floor tall, steel-sculpted concrete building in Kuwait was shaken by a moment magnitude 7.3 earthquake far away at the Iran-Iraq border. The building’s shaking was captured by GPS sites, on the top of the building, and others near ground level. The ground shook with amplitudes of about 40 millimeters while the building shook up to 160 millimeters. Such observations can help to understand a building’s response to an earthquake and to improve building design in response to large stresses.

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2020-02 Human Dimensions
Geodetic Satellite Imagery Enhances Earthquake Response from the U.S. Geological Survey

The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) is responsible for responding to earthquakes around the world. The expansion of Earth imaging satellites has expanded capabilities for geodetic observations and satellite imagery to describe earthquakes and their impacts. NEIC can integrate satellite imagery into earthquake information products for public awareness.

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2019-09 Human Dimensions
Improving Local Tsunami Warnings by Combining Geodetic and Seismic Observations

Combining geodetic and seismic observations can reduce the amount of time needed to assess the tsunami intensity generated by a large magnitude thrust fault earthquake along a subduction zone. Through retrospective analysis of four tsunamigenic large earthquakes in Japan and Chile, the tsunami potential at the local coast was estimated within less than 2 minutes.

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2016-11 Technology and Human Dimensions
Subsiding Atlantic Coast Due to Geologic Adjustment and Groundwater Extraction

Long-term records from GPS stations along the Atlantic Coast of North America show long term subsidence due to geologic adjustments and short term subsidence due to human-related groundwater extraction. These measurements are critical for understanding water use, sediment structure and sea level rise.

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2016-11 Ocean and Human Dimensions
Probabilities of Large Earthquakes in Alaska

Estimates of the probabilities of a magnitude greater than 9.0 earthquake for the Aleutian Islands are about 6.5 to 12 percent over the next 50 years. Such an event poses obvious earthquake and tsunami risks for Alaska and tsunami risks for western North America and Hawaii.

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2016-08 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
Tracking Precipitation in Northeast Africa with GPS

Vertical motions measured by GPS ground stations can be used to track water loads related to precipitation in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The network monitors the seasonal East African monsoon and a smaller regional rainy season. The GPS network is an effective water monitor for the region, where most of the population is agriculture-based.

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2015-11 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
The Highs and Lows of Water Loading in the Pacific Northwest from GPS

Eight years of observations of millimeter-level vertical surface changes from a dense network of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in the Pacific Northwest tracks a fluctuating water load due to varying precipitation. The observations track seasonal variations (i.e., more rain or snow in the fall and winter) and the drought of 2008-2010.

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2015-05 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
Plate Boundary Observatory as a Hydrological Network to Monitor Drought

The Plate Boundary Observatory in the western United States is being used as a hydrological monitor. From 2013-2014, the western U.S. lost about 240 gigatons of water, equal to the amount of annual ice loss in Greenland.

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2014-09 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
Seasonal GPS Vertical Motions Related to Groundwater Extraction May Enhance Seismicity on San Andreas Fault System

Analysis of GPS stations, many that are part of the Plate Boundary Observatory, reveals uplift of the California Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada Mountains. Much of this uplift comes from groundwater depletion for irrigation. These changes may increase the rate of seismicity on the San Andreas Fault.

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2014-05 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
Plate Boundary Observatory Evaluates California’s Water Resources

About 900 GPS stations, most of which are part of the Plate Boundary Observatory in the western United States, recorded the Earth’s surface response to snow and rain loading. The analysis indicates the seasonal water storage in the mountains in California and shows another way to use GPS for water resource management.

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2014-05 Human Dimensions and Environmental & Hydrogeodesy
Seismic Hazards in Azerbaijan Informed by Geodesy

Azerbaijan encompasses the eastern Kura basin and the Caucasus Mountains rise on its northern border. Recent geodetic observations suggest a significant strain rate across the Kura basin that may signify a greater seismic risk for Azerbaijan's largest city, Baku.

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2013-11 Human Dimensions and Solid Earth
Dangerous Outflow After Massive Inflow: Estimating the 2011 Japan Tsunami Current Velocity With Terrestrial Laser Scanning

The damaging March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake caused significant tsunami waves that were recorded on videos by eyewitnesses. Two survivor videos from building rooftops at Kesennuma Bay were combined after the catastrophe and compared with on site terrestrial laser scans, using ground-based LiDAR.

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2013-06 Human Dimensions and Ocean
Real-time GPS can send the alert before a deadly landslide

An unexpected landslide could create a disaster for the town of Cerce del Cielo in Puerto Rico, especially if it cuts off access to the only road out of town.

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2012-09 Human Dimensions
Students monitor an active Hawaiian volcano in real-time

Kilauea Volcano has been erupting through the spatter cone Puʻu ʻŌʻō since 1983 on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It has been an exciting, dynamic eruption, ranging from dramatic fissure and lava fountains, to lava streams oozing into the steaming ocean. It has also been destructive, destroying the towns of Kalapana and Kaimū in 1990.

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2012-09 Human Dimensions

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Last modified: 2020-02-25  16:22:18  America/Denver