Grant of Excellence

Ţóra Árnadóttir

High-rate continuous GPS observations in Iceland

We have been awarded a research Grant for Excellence, amounting to 7,5 million IKR (about 120 thousand USD) per year for the next three years by the Icelandic Research Fund . The project title is High-rate continuous GPS observations in Iceland. The goal of the project is to introduce a new type of crustal deformation monitoring in Iceland by installing 20-30 new continuous GPS stations with a sampling rate of 1 second in selected areas in Iceland. High rate GPS observations have been used successfully to study dynamic earthquake rupture processes, for example the the Denali earthquake in Alaska and the 2003 Tokachi-Oki Earthquake in Japan .


Tectonic map of Iceland showing rift zones (brownish stripes), active volcanic centers (open semi-elliptical shapes), faults (black lines), fracture zones (dashed straight lines), glaciers (white irregular shapes), and CGPS stations (circles, triangles, and squares). Red squares show the existing continuous ISGPS network operated by IMO/NVC (18 stations), IGS (2 stations) and NLSI (1 station). Purple triangles and blue circles show proposed and forthcoming CGPS stations from this project. EVZ = Eastern Volcanic Zone; KR = Kolbeinsey Ridge; NVZ = Northern Volcanic Zone; RP = Reykjanes Peninsula; RR = Reykjanes Ridge; SISZ = South Iceland Seismic Zone; TFZ=Tjörnes Fracture Zone; WVZ = Western Volcanic Zone.

The project will apply the high-rate GPS technology in several different areas in Iceland. We will study volcanic processes by installing high rate GPS stations near the three most active volcanoes in Iceland: Grímsvötn, Hekla and Katla. These volcanoes have been active recently or are currently showing signs of unrest. Recent campaign GPS measurements indicate rapid uplift (up to 2 cm/yr) over a wide area in central Iceland. The network planned in central Iceland will obtain more detailed information on the rate and extent of the uplift. Stations will also be installed in seismically active areas in the South Iceland Seismic Zone and in Northern Iceland. Implementing the 1-Hz technology in Iceland studies of both the dynamic as well as slower rate processes related to earthquake and volcanic activity will be possible. The high level of volcanic and earthquake activity in Iceland makes it an ideal site for this project. In addition, these new continuous GPS stations will double the number of continuous GPS stations in Iceland and provide important data on the rate of deformation along the plate boundary in Iceland, as well as increase our understanding of volcanic and tectonic interaction. The project is a collaborative effort between Icelandic scientists and co-workers in Europe, US and Japan. In addition to Dr. Thora Arnadottir, the research team includes Halldór Geirsson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, that runs the current CGPS network in Iceland , Dr. Sigurjón Jónsson at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Sigrún Hreinsdóttir and Professor Rick Bennett at the University of Arizona, Dr. Peter C. LaFemina at Penn State Univeristy in the US and Dr. Shinichi Miyazaki at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Japan.