Crustal deformation measurements in central Japan determined by a Global Positioning System Fixed-Point Network


  • Seiichi Shimada,

  • Yehuda Bock


A Global Positioning System (GPS) fixed-point network has been operating in the Kanto and Tokai districts of central Japan since April 1988 to detect crustal deformation associated with the convergence of the Eurasian, Pacific, North American, and Philippine Sea plates and to monitor the deformation cycles of frequent large interplate and intraplate earthquakes. This 10-station network established by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) is the first continuously monitoring network of its kind. We determine deformation within the network using two consecutive days of data every 2 weeks for the first 17 months of operations. We use a station and orbit relaxation method which relies exclusively on data collected within the NIED network, except for 1 week of global GPS tracking data which is used to determine initial station positions with respect to the global reference frame. We detect, relative to a station on the Eurasian plate in central Japan, significant westward motion of 28 mm/yr of the northern tip of the Philippine Sea plate, which is subducting beneath the Eurasian plate at the Suruga trough. Our results support finite element models of collision of the Izu Block with the Eurasian plate based on earthquake focal mechanisms and plate block motions of the Japanese archipelago determined from conventional geodetic measurements over the last century. We detect southwestward motion of 18 mm/yr of the southeastern tip of the Eurasian plate, confirming expected surface extension of the subducted plate parallel to the Suruga trough axis. Significant vertical uplift with a velocity of 20 mm/yr is suggested at a site inland of the Tokai district located in the Akaishi uplift zone and at a site on Hatsushima Island in Sagami Bay. The general tendency of vertical movements of the other sites agrees with vertical velocities obtained from 70 years of geodetic leveling and with Quaternary vertical displacements determined from geomorphological and other geological evidence. We detect no significant crustal motion across the Fossa Magna tectonic zone in central Japan (often considered a plate boundary), across the Tokyo metropolitan area, nor across the Sagami trough associated with the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate beneath northeast Japan. Our results demonstrate the power of regionally based, continuously monitoring GPS networks for obtaining temporally dense measurements of small horizontal and vertical crustal movements across plate boundary zones.