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REGAL: a permanent GPS network in the western Alps. Configuration and first results.

Calais, E; Bayer, R; Chery, J; Cotton, F; Doerflinger, E; Flouzat, M; Jouanne, F; Kasser, M; Laplanche, M; Maillard, D; Martinod, J; Mathieu, F; Nicolon, P; Nocquet, JM; Scotti, O; Serrurier, L; Tardy, M; Vigny, C. BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE GEOLOGIQUE DE FRANCE, 172: (2) 141-158.

Document type > *Article de revue

Keywords > earthquakes, earthquakes


Authors > SCOTTI Oona

Publication Date > 01/01/2001


The kinematics of the present-day deformation in the western Alps is still poorly known, mostly because of a lack of direct measurements of block motion and internal deformation. Geodetic measurements have the potential to provide quantitative estimates of crustal strain and block motion in the Alps, but the low expected rates, close to the accuracy of the geodetic techniques, make such measurements challenging. Indeed, an analysis of 2.5 years of continuous GPS data at Torino (Italy), Grasse (France), and Zimmerwald (Switzerland), showed that the present-day differential motion across the western Alps does not exceed 3 mm/yr [Calais, 1999]. Continous measurements performed at permanent GPS stations provide unique data sets for rigorously assessing crustal deformation in regions of low strain rates by reducing the amount of time necessary to detect a significant strain signal, minimizing systematic errors, providing continuous position time series, and possibly capturing co- and post-seismic motion. In 1997, we started the implementation of a network of permanent GPS stations in the western Alps and their surroundings (REGAL network). The REGAL network mostly operates dual frequency Ashtech Z12 CGRS GPS stations with choke-ring antennae. In most cases, the GPS antenna is installed on top of a 1.5 to 2.5 m high concrete pilar directly anchored into the bedrock. The data are currently downloaded once daily and sent to a data center located at Geosciences Azur, Sophia Antipolis where they are converted into RINEX format, quality checked, archived, and made available to users. Data are freely available in raw and RINEX format at The GPS data from the REGAL network are routinely processed with the GAMIT software, together with 10 global IGS stations (KOSG, WZTR, NOTO, MATE, GRAZ, EBRE, VILL, CAGL, MEDI, UPAD) that serve as ties with the ITRF97. We also include the stations ZIMM, TORI, GRAS, TOUL, GENO, HFLK, OBER because of their tectonic interest. We obtain long term repeatabilities on the order of 2-3 mm for the horizontal components, 8-10 mm for the vertical component. Using a noise model that combines white and coloured noise (flicker noise, spectral index 1), we find uncertainties on the velocities ranging from 1 mm/yr for the oldest stations (ZIMM, GRAS, TOUL, TORI, SJDV) to 4-5 mm/yr for the most recently installed (CHAT, MTPL). Station velocities obtained in ITRF97 are rotated into a Eurasian reference by substracting the rigid rotation computed from ITRF97 velocities at 11 central European sites located away from major active tectonic structures (GOPE, JOZE, BORl, LAMA, ZWEN, POTS, WETT, GRAZ, PENC, Effelsberg, ONSA). The resulting velocity field shows residual motions with respect to Eurasia lower than i mm/yr We obtain at TORI, in the Po plain, a residual velocity of 2.3 +/-0.8 mm/yr to the SSW and a velocity of 1.9 +/-1.1 mm/yr at SJDV, on the Alpine foreland. These results in --dicate that the current kinematic boundary conditions across the western Alps are extensional, as also shown by the SJDV-TORI baseline time series. We obtain at MODA (internal zones) a residual velocity of 1.2 +/-1.2 mm/yr to the SSE. The MODA-FCLZ baseline show lengthening at a rate of 1.6 +/-0.8 mm/yr. These results are still marginally significant but suggest that the current deformation regime along the Lyon-Torino transect is extension, as also indicated by from recent seismotectonic data. It is in qualitative agreement with local geodotic measurements in the internal zones (Briancon area) but excludes more than 2.4 mm/yr of extension (FCLZ-MODA baseline, upper uncertainty limit at 95% confidence).


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