Inverting geodetic time series with a principal component analysis-based inversion method

A. P. Kositsky, J. P. Avouac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


The Global Positioning System (GPS) system now makes it possible to monitor deformation of the Earth's surface along plate boundaries with unprecedented accuracy. In theory, the spatiotemporal evolution of slip on the plate boundary at depth, associated with either seismic or aseismic slip, can be inferred from these measurements through some inversion procedure based on the theory of dislocations in an elastic half-space. We describe and test a principal component analysis-based inversion method (PCAIM), an inversion strategy that relies on principal component analysis of the surface displacement time series. We prove that the fault slip history can be recovered from the inversion of each principal component. Because PCAIM does not require externally imposed temporal filtering, it can deal with any kind of time variation of fault slip. We test the approach by applying the technique to synthetic geodetic time series to show that a complicated slip history combining coseismic, postseismic, and nonstationary interseismic slip can be retrieved from this approach. PCAIM produces slip models comparable to those obtained from standard inversion techniques with less computational complexity. We also compare an afterslip model derived from the PCAIM inversion of postseismic displacements following the 2005 8.6 Nias earthquake with another solution obtained from the extended network inversion filter (ENIF). We introduce several extensions of the algorithm to allow statistically rigorous integration of multiple data sources (e.g., both GPS and interferometric synthetic aperture radar time series) over multiple timescales. PCAIM can be generalized to any linear inversion algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberB03401
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Mar 2010


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