Kinematics of the lithosphere from geodetic measurements

Spring 2010: Lectures Tu/Th 10:30 and Fr 11:30 (CIVL 3214)
Instructor: Prof. E. Calais


This course discusses how geodetic measurements can be used to quantify the kinematics of the lithosphere. In a way, it starts where my GPS geodesy course left, although no previous knowledge in geodesy is required.

The course covers an overview of geodetic measurements, uncertainties, reference frames, kinematics of rigid blocks, strain in solids, seismic cycle and strain accumulation on faults, estimation of coseismic slip on faults, pressure variations in magma chambers, dike intrusions. It describes the methods used to estimate kinematic parameters from geodetic information and discusses case studies.

Students will learn tools to analyze results from displacement measurements, how to correctly treat measurement uncertainties by propagating them forward in the analysis, how to handle reference frame issues, as well as a number of current issues in plate kinematics, intraplate deformation, and slip inversion on faults.

The REVEL plate motion model is derived from a global GPS data set (Sella et al., 2002)


  1. Course objectives [pdf]
  2. Overview of geodetic techniques [pdf]
  3. Plate motions, rigid rotations [pdf]
  4. Combining velocities, reference frames [pdf]
  5. No-net-rotation and hot-spot frames [pdf]
  6. Intraplate deformation [pdf]
  7. Strain, part 1 [pdf]
  8. Strain, part 2 [pdf]
  9. The deformation cycle [pdf]
  10. Inversion of geodetic data for slip on faults [pdf]
  11. Block models of plate boundary zone deformation [pdf]
  12. Combining geodetic and seismic anisotropy measurements [pdf]