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Probing the asthenosphere beneath Australia with surface GPS/GNSS

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Matt King
    Dr C Watson
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Ocean tides continually load Earth’s surface, resulting in periodic deformation that is measurable by geodetic techniques such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Such natural experiments provide a way in which to understand the Earth’s interior structure and rheology (Ito and Simons, 2011). However, these signals have tiny amplitudes, being commonly less than 1 mm, and hence such data requires careful data analysis (Allinson et al., 2004; King, 2006; Thomas et al., 2007), removal of various potential contaminating signal (such as those due to atmospheric mass, bedrock thermal expansion and/or gravitational forcing) (King et al., 2008; Yan et al., 2009; Yuan et al., 2013) and long data records (Allinson et al., 2004).

This PhD project will examine a new and high quality record of such deformations for Australia, applying new and improved background models, in order to provide a first geodetic constraint on Earth structure for this region.

Funding Notes

Australian/New Zealand students are eligible for Australian Postgraduate Awards which cover fees and living expenses. Highly qualified applicants may be eligible for Elite (top-up) Scholarships, worth $32,000 tax free per annum, a free laptop and pre-application trip to check out Hobart and the University of Tasmania.

Funding for overseas students is available on a competitive basis for students with a strong track record (journal publication, MSc in English, etc.).


Allinson, C.R., Clarke, P.J., Edwards, S.J., King, M.A., Baker, T.F., Cruddace, P.R., 2004. Stability of direct GPS estimates of ocean tide loading. Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L15603, doi:15610.11029/12004GL020588.
Ito, T., Simons, M., 2011. Probing Asthenospheric Density, Temperature, and Elastic Moduli Below the Western United States. Science 332, 947-951.
King, M., 2006. Kinematic and static GPS techniques for estimating tidal displacements with application to Antarctica. J. Geodyn. 41, 77-86, doi:10.1016/j.jog.2005.1008.1019.
King, M.A., Watson, C.S., Penna, N.T., Clarke, P.J., 2008. Subdaily signals in GPS observations and their effect at semiannual and annual periods. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L03302, doi:03310.01029/02007GL032252.
Thomas, I.D., King, M.A., Clarke, P.J., 2007. A comparison of GPS, VLBI and model estimates of ocean tide loading displacements. J. Geod. 81, 359-368.
Yan, H., Chen, W., Zhu, Y., Zhang, W., Zhong, M., 2009. Contributions of thermal expansion of monuments and nearby bedrock to observed GPS height changes,. Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L13301, doi:13310.11029/12009GL038152.
Yuan, L., Chao, B.F., Ding, X., Zhong, P., 2013. The tidal displacement field at Earth's surface determined using global GPS observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 118, 2618-2632.

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