Measurement of Shallow Sea Floor Motion with GPS on a Rigid Buoy: System Design and Synthetic Analysis

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A GPS-buoy system has been built and is currently undergoing test to measure precise 3D sea floor motion in the shallow (less than 200 m) continental shelf environment. Offshore deformation is undersampled in most subduction zones. In Cascadia, the shallow shelf environment constitutes roughly 20%-25% of the offshore area between the coastline and the trench. In the system being tested, the GPS receiver at the top of the buoy is connected to the sea floor through a rigid structure supported by a float. A similar design has been used by INGV (Italy) to measure vertical deformation on the sea floor near the Campi Flegrei caldera. Synthetic analysis shows that by adding a 3-axis digital compass to measure heading and tilt, along with kinematic GPS measurements, position of the anchor can be recovered to an accuracy of several centimeters or better, depending on water depth and GPS baseline length. Synthetic resolution tests show that our ability to detect shallow slow slip events on subduction plate boundaries can be greatly improved by adding offshore GPS-buoy sites.

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Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 15, 2017 in New Orleans, LA