GPS Solutions

, 23:84 | Cite as

Retrieving geophysical signals from GPS in the La Plata River region

  • Victoria GraffignaEmail author
  • Claudio Brunini
  • Mauricio Gende
  • Manuel Hernández-Pajares
  • Romina Galván
  • Fernando Oreiro
Original Article


Over the last few years, efforts to model short-term deformations of the Earth’s crust have multiplied. Sudden water level rise can cause sporadic, but significant, motions in the solid Earth’s surface. In this work, we address the problem of retrieving reliable estimates of the vertical displacement of a Global Positioning System (GPS) station located very close to the eastern shore of the La Plata River, during a strong storm surge event. Capturing sub-daily GPS displacements demands an elaborate processing strategy because several highly correlated parameters must be estimated simultaneously. We present a successful strategy that reduces the number of unknowns that have to be estimated simultaneously, by using an empirical model that describes the elastic response of the Earth’s crust to the hydrological load variations. We incorporate this model into the observation equations so that, instead of estimating the station position, we estimate every epoch a single parameter of the empirical model, i.e., the empirical elastic parameter EEP, that is assumed to be a constant of the Earth’s crust in the region of the GPS station. We verify that the estimated parameter agrees well with the value calculated from the CRUST 1.0-A model of the Earth’s crust. The GPS receiver was tied to an external cesium clock, which allowed us to process the data according to two different strategies: (a) estimating the receiver clock error (Δt) as an epoch-wise free parameter, which is equivalent to ignoring the presence of the external clock, and (b) conditioning the variability of that estimate with a small a priori variance compatible with the external clock’s variability. We find that, without having an external atomic clock, the estimation of all the parameters, i.e., the zenith tropospheric delay, Δt, and the EEP, worsens when the GPS station is affected by sub-daily vertical displacements.


Sub-daily effects Clock modeling GNSS vertical deformation Storm surge Crustal loading La Plata River 



We want to thank the Servicio de Hidrografía Naval (SHN) of Argentina and the Administración Nacional de Puertos of Uruguay (ANP) for the data provided from the tides gauges that made possible the estimation of the gravitational potential. We also want to thank Universidad Nacional de Cuyo for supporting the visit of Prof. Manuel Hernández-Pajares to Argentina, making possible the interaction that enabled this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y GeofísicasUniversidad Nacional de La Plata (FCAG-UNLP)La PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Buenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Servicio de Hidrografía NavalBuenos AiresArgentina

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