Research in geodynamics and environmental geodesy encompasses all aspects of deformation of the
solid Earth and its fluid envelope, including the development of models of the
past ice history of the Earth, the effects of climate change on polar ice sheets,
sea level variations, elastic tidal deformation of the Earth and more conventional
studies of tectonic deformation through earthquakes, Interferometric Synthetic
Aperture Radar, GPS etc.
Earth Physics - Geodynamics and Geodesy
Space-geodetic techniques such as the recent Gravity Recovery and Climate
Experiment (GRACE) mission and JASON-1/2 and Cryosat-2 satellite altimetry mission provide
new observations of the changing nature of our planet. We can use these
tools to investigate how climate change is affecting the environment, notably
changes in sea level, rates of melting of polar ice caps and even ground
Examples of research undertaken are provided below. Opportunities exist within these
and other research areas for students to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate
research projects (see project finder)
Building capability within Australia to analyse raw space gravity observations .....
Research includes measuring mass balance changes using space-geodetic techniques .....
Ice sheet reconstruction using geomorphological, cosmogenic and geodetic constraints on the
timing and amount of melting of the Fennoscandian, Laurentide and Antarctic ice sheets.
Present-day melting of polar ice sheets increases the volume of the oceans, causing increases
in sea level. Warming of the oceans causes thermal expansion which also causes changes in sea
level. Variations in sea level can be measured through satellite altimetry and tide gauge measurements.
Local land movements need to be considered and can be measured through GPS measurements and
The melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet over the past 10,000 years has removed a considerable mass
from the continent. As a result, the continent rebounds (as would a boat if one removed a load
from the bow). The rate of present-day uplift can be measured with GPS and can tell us about
how much ice has melted.
Papua New Guinea contains every type of tectonic plate boundary and is one of the most seismically
active regions in the world. For over a decade we have been measuring continental drift, elastic
strain and earthquake deformation, using GPS to quantify locations of plate boundaries and
We operate an FG5 Absolute Gravimeter and a several portable tidal gravimeters acquired under the
AuScope gravity program. The FG5 is used for monitoring a national network of reference stations,
for calibrating and testing relative instruments including the SG, and for other geodynamics
projects requiring high precision absolute gravity. The Micro-g LaCoste gPhone relative tidal
gravimeters are being used to map the ocean load tide around Australia.
At Mt Stromlo we operate one of ~30 superconducting gravimeters worldwide. Highly precise measurements
of changes in the Earth's gravity field can be used to learn about
the tidal deformation and internal structure of the Earth.
Theoretical advances in the analysis of space-geodetic data are undertaken, including:
Are you a student interested in studying at RSES (PhD, Master, Honours)? Find A Geodesy-related Research Project at RSES