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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2018-19
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 06 Mar 2018

Review article | 06 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Present-day surface deformationof the Alpine Region inferred from geodetic techniques

Laura Sánchez1, Christof Völksen2, Alexandr Sokolov1,2, Herbert Arenz1, and Florian Seitz1 Laura Sánchez et al.
  • 1Technische Universität München, Deutsches Geodätisches Forschungsinstitut (DGFI - TUM), Arcisstr. 21, 80333 München, Germany
  • 2Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Erdmessung und Glaziologie, Alfons-Goppel-Str. 11, 80539 München, Germany

Abstract. We provide a present-day surface-kinematics model for the Alpine region and surroundings based on a high-level data analysis of about 300 geodetic stations continuously operating over more than 12 years. This model includes a deformation model, a continuous surface-kinematic (velocity) field, and a strain field consistently assessed for the entire Alpine mountain belt. Special care is given to the use of the newest GNSS processing standards to determine high-precise 3D station coordinates. The coordinate solution refers to the reference frame IGb08, epoch 2010.0. The mean precision of the station positions at the reference epoch is ±1.1mm in N and E and ±2.3mm in height. The mean precision of the station velocities is ±0.2mm/a in N and E and ±0.4mm/a in the height. The deformation model is derived from the pointwise station velocities using a geodetic least-squares collocation approach with empirically determined covariance functions. According to our results, no significant horizontal deformation is detected in the Western Alps, while across the Southern and Eastern Alps the deformation vectors describe a progressive eastward rotation toward Pannonia. This kinematic pattern makes also evident an increasing magnitude of the deformation from 0.1mm/a in the western part of Switzerland up to about 1.5mm/a in the Austrian Alps. The largest shortenings are observed along the southern front of the Eastern Alps (in the northern area of the Venetian-Friuli Basin) and in the northern part of the Apennine Peninsula, where they reach 2mm/a and 3 mm/a, respectively. The averaged accuracy of the horizontal deformation model is ±0.2mm/a. Regarding the vertical kinematics, our results clearly show an still on-going averaged uplift of 1.8mm/a of the entire mountain chain, with exception of the southern part of the Western Alps, where no significant uplift (less than 0.5mm/a) is detected. The fastest uplift rates (more than 2mm/a) occur in the central area of the Western Alps, in the Swiss Alps and in the Southern Alps in the boundary region between Switzerland, Austria and Italy. The general uplift observed across the Alpine mountain chain decreases toward the outer regions to stable values between 0.0 and 0.5mm/a and, in some cases, to subsidence like in the Liguro-Provençal and Vienna Basins, where vertical rates of −0.8mm/a and −0.3mm/a are observed respectively. In the surroundings, three regional subsidence regimes are identified: the Rhone-Bresse Graben with −0.8mm/a, the Rhine Graben with −1.3mm/a, and the Venetian-Friuli Basin with −1.5mm/a. The estimated uncertainty of our vertical motion model across the Alpine mountain belt is about ±0.3mm/a. The strain field inferred from the deformation model shows two main contrasting strain regimes: shortening across the south-eastern front of the Alps and the northern part of the Dinarides, and extension in the Apennines. The pattern of the strain principal axes indicates that the compression directions are more or less perpendicular to the thrust belt fronts, reaching maximum values of 20x10−9a−1 in the Venetian-Friuli and Po Basins. Across the Alpine mountain belt, we observe a slight dilatation regime in the Western Alps, which smoothly changes to a contraction regime in West Austria and South Germany, reaching maximum shortening values of 6x10−9a−1 in the north-eastern Austria. The numerical results of this study are available at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.886889.

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Present-day surface deformation of the Alpine Region inferred from geodetic techniques (data) L. Sánchez, C. Völksen, A. Sokolov, H. Arenz, and F. Seitz https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.886889

Laura Sánchez et al.
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Short summary
We provide a surface-kinematics model for the Alpine region based on a high-level data analysis of 300 geodetic stations continuously operating over 12.4 years. This model includes a deformation model, a continuous velocity field, and a strain field consistently assessed for the entire Alpine mountain belt. Horizontal and vertical motions patterns are clearly identified and supported by uncertainties less than ±0.2 mm/a and ±0.3 mm/a in the horizontal and vertical components, respectively.
We provide a surface-kinematics model for the Alpine region based on a high-level data analysis...
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