Crustal motions in Great Britain: evidence from continuous GPS, absolute gravity and Holocene sea level data


Now at: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada.


Two independent continuous global positioning system (CGPS) processing strategies, based on a double-difference regional network and a globally transformed precise point positioning solution, provide horizontal and vertical crustal motion estimates for Great Britain. Absolute gravity and geological information from late Holocene sea level data further constrain the vertical motion estimates. For 40 CGPS stations we estimate station velocities and associated uncertainties using maximum likelihood estimation, assuming the presence of white and coloured noise. Horizontal station velocity estimates agree to <1 mm yr−1 between the two CGPS processing strategies and closely follow predicted plate motions. Residual velocities, generally <1 mm yr−1, follow no regular pattern, that is, there is no discernible internal deformation, nor any dependence on station monumentation or time-series length. Vertical station velocity estimates for the two CGPS processing strategies agree to ∼1 mm yr−1, but show an offset of ∼1 mm yr−1 with respect to the absolute gravity (AG) estimates. We attribute this offset to a bias related to known issues in current CGPS results and correct for it by AG-alignment of our CGPS estimates of vertical station velocity. Both CGPS estimates and AG-aligned CGPS estimates of present-day vertical crustal motions confirm the pattern of subsidence and uplift in Great Britain derived from Holocene sea level data for the last few thousand years: ongoing subsidence on Shetland, uplift in most areas of Scotland, and subsidence in large areas of England and Wales.