Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Roy K. Dokka


The Global Positioning System (GPS) has emerged over the last 10 years as the premier space geodetic technique for geologic observation with the benefits of both accuracy and economy. GPS data from more than 260 stations were processed utilizing GIPSY-OASIS software, and all available RINEX files for these stations beginning on January 1, 1993. The uniform processing strategy, combined with a rigorous independent error estimate of site velocities and the broad geographical distribution of these sites resulted in a global high-precision surface velocity data set. This data set has been used to: (1) compare the effects of different GPS antenna and monument types on data noise; (2) examine in detail the rigidity of the North America plate; (3) constrain the rate of deformation in the northern Gulf of Mexico; (4) define a model for Recent (Holocene) time global plate motions. The weighted root mean square scatter about the best fit line through the daily position estimates are used to assess the effects of different antenna and monument types on North America. The data set is sensitive to glacial isostatic adjustment as indicated by the decrease in chinu 2 from 1.3 to 1.0 by excluding those sites on rigid North America within a radius of 1,800 km of Hudson Bay. The resulting 64 site solution for the angular velocity of North America give a mean rate residual of 1 mm/yr. GULFNET, a regional GPS network created in 1997 in the northern Gulf Coast to measure strain across this active "passive margin" is described. Preliminary results suggest that deformation is occurring as predicted by the regional paradigm for deformation, i.e. Gulfward motion along normal faults. A new model for Recent global plate velocities (REVEL) describes the relative velocities of 14 plates. For several plate pairs, statistically significant differences are observed between the geodetically and geologically determined velocities reflecting changes in plate velocity through time. Some of the rate differences reflect gradual slowing associated with convergent plate boundaries, and may reflect increased resistance to subduction or convergence associated with decreased slab pull and/or crustal thickening.