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Volcán Tabor, Ibagué, Tolima

 Volume 4 Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Contributions of Space Geodesy for Geodynamic Studies in Colombia: 1988 to 2017


Citation is suggested as: 

Mora–Páez, H., Kellogg, J.N. & Freymueller, J.T. 2019. Contributions of space geodesy for geodynamic studies in Colombia: 1988 to 2017. In: Gómez, J. & Pinilla–Pachon, A.O. (editors), The Geology of Colombia, Volume 4 Quaternary. Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Publicaciones Geológicas Especiales 38, p. 577–613. Bogotá.


Space geodetic measurements have transformed our understanding of regional tectonics in the North Andes and southwest Caribbean. The CASA (Central And South America) GPS Project, began in 1988, provided the first direct measurement of subduction at a convergent plate boundary, and it led to the establishment of a global civilian GPS tracking network. Colombia was the center of the 1988 field campaign, and the leadership of Servicio Geológico Colombiano with logistics, training, and personnel was key to the success of the CASA Project. Early GPS results showed evidence for northward movement of the North Andes, convergence at the South Caribbean deformed belt, rapid Panamá–North Andes collision, and interseismic “locking” at the Colombia–Ecuador Trench. Beginning in 2007, space geodetic measurements took a great step forward with GeoRED (Geodesia: Red de Estudios de Deformación) Project, a continuously operating GNSS network that now has 108 sites providing the first accurate comprehensive model of North Andean Block motion. Recent GeoRED findings include that the North Andean Block is moving to the northeast at a rate of 8.6 mm/yr, the Eastern Cordillera is being compressed at a rate of 4.3 mm/ yr, the Panamá Arc is colliding eastward with the North Andean Block at approximately 15–18 mm/yr, and the Panamá–Chocó collision may have been responsible for much of the uplift of the Eastern Cordillera. The new continuous GNSS measurements help to quantify tectonic deformation in northwestern South America and the southwest Caribbean, including earthquake hazards at the Colombia Trench, the Caribbean margin, the east Andean fault zone in the Eastern Cordillera, and the Panamá collision zone in northwestern Colombia; as well as the deformation of Colombian volcanoes.

Keywords:   space geodesy, North Andean Block, crustal deformation, Global Positioning System.