A Caltech Library Service

Geodetic measurement of deformation in southern California


Larsen, Shawn Christian (1991) Geodetic measurement of deformation in southern California. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/SPH1-EV56.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) has rapidly become one of the most important geodetic tools for studying tectonic deformation. With potential 3-dimensional relative positioning accuracies better than 1 cm, GPS can monitor secular deformation as well as rapid strain fluctuations due to seismic and volcanic activity. A 1970/1971 trilateration survey and 1987/1988 GPS observations suggest uniaxial convergence of 6.4 mm/yr oriented N25.1 °E in the eastern third of the Santa Barbara channel, and a combination of convergence and left-lateral shear to the west. GPS surveys have been conducted in the Imperial Valley during 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1990. About 5 ± 1 cm/yr plate-boundary displacement is observed across the valley, somewhat larger than rates obtained through conventional geodesy. These GPS observations have been influenced by the 1987 Superstition Hills earthquake sequence, the first occurrence of a large earthquake within a preexisting GPS network. The measurements suggest 130 cm right-lateral slip along the northwest trending Superstition Hills fault, and 30 cm left-lateral slip along the conjugate northeast trending Elmore Ranch fault. Imperial Valley leveling surveys conducted in 1931, 1941, 1974, 1978, and 1980, are integrated with seismic, geomorphic, and sub-surfacial structural data, to suggest the northern segment of the Imperial fault formed within the last 80,000 years, and support the hypothesis that the Gulf of California rift system is propagating northwestward into the North American continent.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Crustal Deformation Tectonics Geodesy Geodetic Measurements Global Positioning System (GPS) Trilateration Leveling Geophysics Seismology Earthquake Focal Mechanism Seismic Southern California Imperial Valley Santa Barbara Channel Superstition Hills Fault Elmore Ranch Fault Imperial Fault San Andreas Fault San Jacinto Fault Brawley Seismic Zone Mesquite Basin Inversion Singular Value Decomposition Fault Slip Distribution
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Sieh, Kerry E. (advisor)
  • Kanamori, Hiroo (advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:26 October 1990
Funding AgencyGrant Number
USGS14-08-0001-61679 (MIT)
USGS14-08-0001-61354 (Caltech)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03102008-095117
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:917
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:14 Mar 2008
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 02:54

Thesis Files

PDF (Larsen_sc_1991.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page