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Monument Motion and Measurements of Crustal Velocities

Hadley O. Johnson, & Duncan C. Agnew

Published November 1, 1995, SCEC Contribution #247

It is usually assumed in geodetic studies that measurement errors are independent from one measurement to the next and that the rate of deformation (velocity) is constant over the duration of the experiment. Any temporal correlation between measurements can substantially affect the uncertainty in this velocity estimate when it is determined from the time series of measurements. One source of possible long-term correlation is motion of the geodetic monument with respect to the "deep" crust. Available measurements suggest that this motion introduces errors that have the form of a random walk process. We show how such errors affect the uncertainty of velocity estimates. For a geodetic experiment of set duration we calculate the velocity uncertainty as a function of the number of observations and of the relative amount of correlated and uncorrelated noise. We find that 1) neglecting long-term temporal correlations makes the uncertainty in the estimated velocities much too small, and that 2) when the correlated and independent noise sources are of similar magnitude, the expected improvement in uncertainty from having more measurements ( 1 / N ) is not realized; there is almost no improvement in some cases. We have also examined the effect of outliers ("blunders") on the velocity uncertainty; for a frequency of outliers typical of geodetic field campaigns, the previous two conclusions remain unchanged. These results suggest that long-term correlations have a large effect on estimating deformation rates; unless these correlations are small, frequent observations give little advantage. If frequent observations are planned, the amount of correlated noise due to monument instability must be kept small if the full capabilities of the measurement technique are to be realized.

Johnson, H. O., & Agnew, D. C. (1995). Monument Motion and Measurements of Crustal Velocities. Geophysical Research Letters, 22(21), 2905-2908. doi: 10.1029/95GL02661.