Microplate Kinematics, Intraplate Deformation and Sea Level Rise in Europe
AdvisorBennett, Richard A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe rapid development of space geodesy over the last two decades has had a profound effect on geologic studies by allowing measurements of crustal motion with sub-millimeter per year precision. The focus of this work is to better understand microplate kinematics, intraplate deformation and sea level rise in Europe by use of Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of crustal deformation. This is accomplished in three separate studies. The first study focuses on crustal motion and sea level rise along the eastern margin of Adria. We use data from tide gauge and continuous GPS (CGPS) stations. We develop a new method to separate common-mode relative sea level from spatially variable signals. From tide gauge data, we find uniform relative sea level rise along the coast that is 2-4 times lower than the estimates for global average sea level rise. In constrast, vertical motion of coastal rocks determined by CGPS varies appreciably from an average of -1.7 ± 0.4 mm/yr in the southern Adria to 0.0 ± 0.4 mm/yr in northern Adria. The most enigmnatical result of this study is that the combination of tide gauge and CGPS data shows that absolute sea level varies in such a way that relative sea level remains constant. The second study focuses on diffuse intraplate deformation of western Eurasia measured by CGPS. We find that our preferred model involves four subplates, separated by the Pyrenees, Rhine Graben, and Trans European Suture Zone, and yields residual velocities indistinguishable from random samples. We interpret the intraplate dormation as the surface manifestation of downwelling mantle lithosphere. The final component of this work is a study of the Northern and Southern Adria microplates' internal stability and tectonic motion. Results show that both Adria microplates are kinematically distinct from one another and from the slowly converging Eurasia and Nubia plates, with implications for the dynamics of the Nubia-Eurasia plate boundary zone. We also find that internal strain within the Adria microplates is statistically insignificant. We estimate appreciable fault slip rates around the periphery of Adria, with implications for slip rates and seismic hazards associated with circum-Adria fault zones.
Degree ProgramGraduate College