Home / Our Science / Earth Science / Plate Tectonics / Measuring deformation

Measuring deformation

A combination of continuous GPS at widely separated sites and occasional GPS surveys in dense regional networks is used to monitor New Zealand's deformation.

By analysing many repeated historical survey measurements, scientists in New Zealand had by the mid-1980s put together a picture of how the country - squished within the Australian-Pacific plate boundary zone - is deforming today. But this was a picture based on 100 years of survey measurements, which only gave an average picture of the deformation over the last 100 years.

The development of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in the early 1990s allowed scientists and geodetic surveyors to make repeat GPS measurements at many hundreds of points throughout New Zealand.

Today, continuous GPS is used to permanently and continuously monitor deformation in near real-time.

Read some project examples