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Georgian GPS Network


Georgian GPS Information Network for Hazard and Risk Assessment

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-MEA/Measuring Instruments/Instrumentation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
St. Andrew First Called Georgian University, Georgia, Tbilisi

Supporting institutes

  • Union Geological-Ecological Testing Assessment Operations (GEO-ECO-TAO), Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Universitat de Barcelona / Dept. Geodinamica i Geofisica, Spain, Barcelona\nMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) / Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, USA, MA, Cambridge

Project summary

High geodynamic activity of Georgia and adjacent areas of the Caucasus expressed in both seismic and aseismic deformations is conditioned by the still-ongoing convergence of lithospheric plates and northward propagation of the Afro-Arabian continental block at a rate of several cm/year. The post-collisional sub-horizontal shortening of the Caucasus is estimated at hundreds of kilometers. Such a considerable shortening of the Earth’s crust has been realized in the region through different ways: (1) crustal deformation with wide development of compressional structures; (2) warping and displacement of crustal blocks themselves with their uplifting, subsidence, and underthrusting beneath each other; and (3) lateral escaping.

The complex network of faults determines the pisibility of the region into a number of separate blocks (terrains) of different orders, varying one from another by their dimensions, genesis and geological nature. The boundary zones between these terrains represent the belts of maximum geodynamic activity with wide development of processes of tectonogenesis (folding, faulting and seismicity).

Two devastating earthquakes have occurred in the Caucasus in the past 20 years. The first one was the magnitude 6,9 Spitak earthquake on December 7, 1988 in Armenia at the Georgia-Armenia border. The earthquake became widely known due to the immense losses it caused – no less than 25 000 people were killed, some 500 000 were left homeless, and property damage was estimated at about 8 billion USD. The other large seismic event was the magnitude 7,2 Racha earthquake on April 29, 1991. This earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Georgia, took about one hundred human lives and caused great damage and destruction within densely-populated areas. The main shock was followed by numerous aftershocks, the strongest one occurred on April 29 (M~6,1), May 5 (M~5,4), and June 15 (M~6,2) causing additional damage.

Earthquakes have induced many secondary effects in Georgia (landslides, debris flows, flashfloods and floods, and avalanches) that brought extensive damage to the country. The rate of risks associated with these hazards increases every year due to the appearance of new complicated technological construction: oil and gas pipelines (for example, Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Jeihan oil pipelines, Shah-Deniz and Russia-Georgia-Armenia gas pipelines), large dams and hydropower plants (Jvari, Lajanuri, Namokhvani, Vartsikhe, Jinvali, etc) and others.

There have been short-term observations of strain using GPS systems in the region, so the aim of the project is: to design the optimal integrated geodynamic network and to organize monitoring of tectonic movements in the region in real time in order to reveal regularities of it’s development in space and time; to construct the regional strain field using GPS data.

It is noteworthy that in 2008 the Georgian National Agency of Public Registry has initiated a project in collaboration with Sida titled:“Geo-CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) Network Creation”. The network will consist of 6 A-Class permanent GPS stations uniform ally distributed across the entire territory of Georgia to ensure as wide spatial coverage as possible.

Establishment of the Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), especially those integrated as RTK networks, play a very important role in precise geodetic positioning. Coordinates can be determined very quickly and economically-sound without any need for static base stations. Thus, the geodetic surveys including surveys for geodetic control, planimetry, cadastral boundaries and so on can be carried out very efficiently, although, the Network will not be capable to provide sufficiently precise data to ensure the detection of the deformations at the millimeter level, which is an essential requirement for the scientific investigations of the tectonic motions. For this reason, the presented project proposes to complement this network with 3 GNSS station and 2 standard GPS for Static Measure GPS stations, located in strategically chosen places throughout Georgia. We also plan to collaborate closely with the Georgian National Registry to assist them in selecting stable monuments, as well as, providing secure facilities, which are in possession of the Georgian University.

Should additional GPS stations (proposed in this project) be installed this will sufficiently improve existing National GPS Network, will provide the means of studying parameters of the major existing active faults, and, thus, provide an invaluable new tool for earthquakes’ better monitoring.

It must be noted that partnership with NAPR provides a direct connection with government agencies thereby assuring that information on earthquake hazards is communicated directly to government agencies responsible for establishing building codes that is important now given the recent large expansion of Georgian society and associated construction of infrastructure (schools, hospitals, power plants, gas/oil pipe lines, and other critical facilities). We believe that the connection with NARP is too important since this provides a “linkage” between the new, progressive government in Georgia and the University community.

The main objectives of the project are:

  1. Contribute to the geodetic infrastructure of Georgia through cooperation with NAPR;
  2. Use GPS (continuous stations and survey observations) to determine the character of strain accumulation in space (dense survey networks around faults) and time (continuous stations located in specific areas with the highest rates of displacement);
  3. Continue to monitor existing MIT/Georgia GPS survey sites to better define patterns of strain accumulation and release;
  4. Develop dense (~5 km spacing) GPS survey networks across known faults. Develop a better understanding of how strain is accumulated and released along the major earthquake generating faults in Georgia and surrounding areas of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus.
  5. Create relevant maps of seismically active structures of Georgia;
  6. Develop an educational program in modern geodesy (help from Barcelona and MIT) to provide well trained personnel for University;
  7. Establishment of the GEO-CORS 30sec. database;
  8. To incorporate Georgian national database into global database system and ensure that at least one of the established sites be part of the IGS global network

Two organizations from Georgia will participate in the Project:
  1. St. Andrew The First-Called Georgian University of The Patriarchy of Georgia (SANGU)

The participating Institutes have vast scientific experience in the aforementioned fields. The main part of scientific and engineering potential of Georgia in the field of Earth Sciences is concentrated mainly in these institutions.

Implementation of the Project will support the creation of GPS Network shared regional database, which will include seismological, geological, geophysical, geotechnical and other data as well as inventory of critical facilities vulnerable during earthquakes. During the implementation of the Project existing scientific data will be collected and newly interpreted for input in the database. Based upon the newly created database the range of regional seismic hazard models will be formulated and seismic risk will be assessed for selected structures/facilities.

New and modern approaches to seismic risk assessment will be applied to assess loss estimation for selected structures/facilities in the region. Training workshops and pilot training for policy makers and members of the media will be conducted.

Scientific and practical results obtained during the Project will be transferred in a usable format as recommendations to appropriate state and private institutions, organizations and companies interested or responsible for managing and mitigating the natural hazards.

The Project implementation will result in establishing basis for further activities related to reduction of seismic risk and collaboration of scientists and policy makers in the mentioned field.

The Project will provide weapon scientists and engineers with opportunities to redirect their knowledge and skills to peaceful activities. Additionally, it will support the research and technology development in the fields of seismic hazard and risk assessment and seismic risk reduction, environmental and population protection.

Foreign collaborators have been actively involved in development of the project and will continue to collaborate with participants of the project in the following areas:

  • Serve on the technical advisory committees for each area of the project providing input and guidance for the project implementation as well as participation in regular meetings;
  • Data exchange during the Project implementation;
  • Provide peer-review of project results;
  • Participate in semi-annual project review meetings;
  • Applications to weather forecasting (predict extreme weather events), high quality geodetic analysis and tectonic modeling;
  • Geodetic analysis, integrate with broader Caucasus GPS geodynamics, state of the art geophysical analysis, modeling, and tectonic interpretation;
  • Comments regarding technical reports being presented in the ISTC;
  • Conduct joint symposia and seminars;
  • Collaboration in a scientific exchange in various investigations areas;
  • Provide opportunities for hosting project participants at western universities and laboratories;
  • Disseminate as widely as possible validated results from the project and identify other sources of support.