Continuous Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements at Long Valley Caldera, an active volcanic region in east central California, have been made on the south side of the resurgent dome since early 1993. A site on the north side of the dome was added in late 1994. Special adaptations for autonomous operation in remote regions and enhanced vertical precision were made. The data record ongoing volcanic deformation consistent with uplift and expansion of the surface above a shallow magma chamber. Measurement precisions (1 standard error) for "absolute" position coordinates, i.e., relative to a global reference frame, are 3-4 mm (north), 5-6 mm (east), and 10-12 mm (vertical) using 24 hour solutions. Corresponding velocity uncertainties for a 12 month period are about 2 mm/yr in the horizontal components and 3-4 mm/yr in the vertical component. High precision can also be achieved for relative position coordinates on short (<10 km) baselines using broadcast ephemerides and observing times as short as 3 hours, even when data are processed rapidly on site. Comparison of baseline length changes across the resurgent dome between the two GPS sites and corresponding two-color electronic distance measurements indicates similar extension rates within error (???2 mm/yr) once we account for a random walk noise component in both systems that may reflect spurious monument motion. Both data sets suggest a pause in deformation for a 3.5 month period in mid-1995, when the extension rate across the dome decreased essentially to zero. Three dimensional positioning data from the two GPS stations suggest a depth (5.8??1.6 km) and location (west side of the resurgent dome) of a major inflation center, in agreement with other geodetic techniques, near the top of a magma chamber inferred from seismic data. GPS systems similar to those installed at Long Valley can provide a practical method for near real-time monitoring and hazard assessment on many active volcanoes.
Additional publication details
Continuous monitoring of surface deformation at Long Valley Caldera, California, with GPS