Semipermanent GPS (SPGPS) as a volcano monitoring tool: Rationale, method, and applications

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



Semipermanent GPS (SPGPS) is an alternative to conventional campaign or survey-mode GPS (SGPS) and to continuous GPS (CGPS) that offers several advantages for monitoring ground deformation. Unlike CGPS installations, SPGPS stations can be deployed quickly in response to changing volcanic conditions or earthquake activity such as a swarm or aftershock sequence. SPGPS networks can be more focused or more extensive than CGPS installations, because SPGPS equipment can be moved from station to station quickly to increase the total number of stations observed in a given time period. SPGPS networks are less intrusive on the landscape than CGPS installations, which makes it easier to satisfy land-use restrictions in ecologically sensitive areas. SPGPS observations are preferred over SGPS measurements because they provide better precision with only a modest increase in the amount of time, equipment, and personnel required in the field. We describe three applications of the SPGPS method that demonstrate its utility and flexibility. At the Yellowstone caldera, Wyoming, a 9-station SPGPS network serves to densify larger preexisting networks of CGPS and SGPS stations. At the Three Sisters volcanic center, Oregon, a 14-station SPGPS network complements an SGPS network and extends the geographic coverage provided by 3 CGPS stations permitted under wilderness land-use restrictions. In the Basin and Range province in northwest Nevada, a 6-station SPGPS network has been established in response to a prolonged earthquake swarm in an area with only sparse preexisting geodetic coverage. At Three Sisters, the estimated precision of station velocities based on annual ~ 3 month summertime SPGPS occupations from 2009 to 2015 is approximately half that for nearby CGPS stations. Conversely, SPGPS-derived station velocities are about twice as precise as those based on annual ~ 1 week SGPS measurements. After 5 years of SPGPS observations at Three Sisters, the precision of velocity determinations is estimated to be 0.5 mm/yr in longitude, 0.6 mm/yr in latitude, and 0.8 mm/yr in height. We conclude that an optimal approach to monitoring volcano deformation includes complementary CGPS and SPGPS networks, periodic InSAR observations, and measurements from in situ borehole sensors such as tiltmeters or strainmeters. This comprehensive approach provides the spatial and temporal detail necessary to adequately characterize a complex and evolving deformation pattern. Such information is essential to multi-parameter models of magmatic or tectonic processes that can help to guide research efforts, and also to inform hazards assessments and land-use planning decisions.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Semipermanent GPS (SPGPS) as a volcano monitoring tool: Rationale, method, and applications
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.03.007
Volume 344
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 40
Last page 51
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