Precise Landslide Displacement Time Series from Continuous GPS Observations in Tectonically Active and Cold Regions: A Case Study in Alaska

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Yanet Cuddus and Guoquan Wang, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Over the past 15 years, Global Positioning System (GPS) has been frequently used as a scientific tool to detect potential earth mass movements and to track creeping landslides. In this study, we investigated four-years of continuous GPS data (September 2006-July 2010) recorded at a landslide site in Alaska. This GPS station (AC55) was installed on an un-identified creeping site by the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) project, which was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. The landslide moves with a steady horizontal velocity of 5.5 cm/year toward NEE, and had a subsidence rate of 2.6 cm/year. There was a considerable correlation between annual snow loading and melting cycles and seasonal variations of the landslide displacements. The seasonal movements vary year to year with an average peak-to-peak amplitude of 1.5 cm and 1.0 cm in horizontal and vertical directions, respectively. This study addresses three challenging issues in applying GPS for landslide monitoring in tectonically active and cold regions. The three challenges include (1) detecting GPS-derived positions that could be contaminated by the snow and ice accumulated on GPS antennas during cold seasons, (2) establishing a precise local reference frame and assessing its accuracy, and (3) excluding local seasonal ground motions from GPS-derived landslide displacements. The methods introduced in this study will be useful for GPS landslide monitoring in other tectonically active and/or cold regions.