Gravity measurements in southeastern Alaska reveal negative gravity rate of change caused by glacial isostatic adjustment

W. Sun, S. Miura, T. Sato, T. Sugano, J. Freymueller, M. Kaufman, C. F. Larsen, R. Cross, D. Inazu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


For the past 300 years, southeastern Alaska has undergone rapid ice-melting and land uplift attributable to global warming. Corresponding crustal deformation (3 cm/yr) caused by the Little Ice Age retreat is detectable with modern geodetic techniques such as GPS and tidal gauge measurements. Geodetic deformation provides useful information for assessing ice-melting rates, global warming effects, and subcrustal viscosity. Nevertheless, integrated geodetic observations, including gravity measurements, are important. To detect crustal deformation caused by glacial isostatic adjustment and to elucidate the viscosity structure in southeastern Alaska, Japanese and U.S. researchers began a joint 3-year project in 2006 using GPS, Earth tide, and absolute gravity measurements. A new absolute gravity network was established, comprising five sites around Glacier Bay, near Juneau, Alaska. This paper reports the network's gravity measurements during 2006-2008. The bad ocean model in this area hindered ocean loading correction: Large tidal residuals remain in the observations. Accurate tidal correction necessitated on-site tidal observation. Results show high observation precision for all five stations: <μ Gal. The gravity rate of change was found to be -3.5 to -5.6 μGal/yr in the gravity network. Furthermore, gravity results obtained during the 3 years indicate a similar gravity change rate. These gravity data are anticipated for application in geophysical studies of southeastern Alaska. Using gravity and vertical displacement data, we constructed a quantity to remove viscoelastic effects. The observations are thus useful to constrain present-day ice thickness changes. A gravity bias of about -13.2 ± 0.1 mGal exists between the Potsdam and current FG5 gravity data.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberB12406
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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