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Maintenance of Continuous GPS Stations in Panama

  • Principal Investigator: Peter LaFemina
  • UNAVCO Engineer: Dylan Schmeelk
  • Dates: April 2 - 15, 2018
  • Location(s): Panama
  • Funding Source: NSF

Written by Dylan Schmeelk
22 May 2018


Over two weeks in April 2018, PhD student Gorki Ruiz from The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Omar Espinoza (Sub-Director General), Javier Cornejo (Departamento de Geodesia) and Demetrio Garcia (Departmento de Cartografia) from Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Tommy Guardia" (IGNTG) / Autoridad Nacional de Administración de Tierras (ANATI), and Dylan Schmeelk from UNAVCO traveled throughout much of Panama to service previously installed continuous GPS stations (cGPS), including relocation of one station, and the relocation of a GPS antenna at another. This was part of an ongoing project (PI Peter La Femina (PSU)) to investigate the complex interactions between the Caribbean, Cocos, and Nazca plates. Collaboration with the Instituto de Geociencias at the Universidad de Panama (IGC) was essential to the success of the equipment relocations. During this trip, the team visited six cGPS sites. This took 14 days and over 1,600 km of driving!

International Collaboration

This recent field excursion to Panama builds on previous work from 2011 when Brendan Hodge (UNAVCO), Peter La Femina (PSU), and IGC staff installed five continuous GPS sites as part of a National Science Foundation Early CAREER award to La Femina. In recent years, collaboration between UNAVCO/PSU and ANATI, the surveying and mapping agency of Panama, has increased significantly, benefitting all parties, with future work on the horizon. Multiple stations managed by ANATI recently suffered fire damage, for which UNAVCO was able to supply antenna cables to help facilitate bringing the stations back online. ANATI is also excited about the possibility of training some of their staff to QC and process GPS data, currently being sent to other countries for processing, using teqc and GAMIT/GLOBK. Collaborations like these are vital for the continuation of geodetic research in the region.

COCONet Maintenance

In addition to visiting PSU GPS sites, COCONet sites CN33 and CN34 were decommissioned and two new replacement sites, CN55 and CN56, were installed. Installation of underground piping caused the structure hosting the geodetic antenna monument for station CN33, in Penonome, to tilt. The subtle tilt of the structure was captured by the GPS observations and ultimately corrupted these data. A new location was identified in the nearby city of Aguadulce during the 2017 maintenance trip. Station CN55 was installed on the roof of the municipal building on this trip (Figure 6).

With support from IGNTG/ANATI, the antenna monument once used for CN34 was relocated 25 m away using shallow driven braced monumentation for the new station CN56. Due to a power supply issue at this site, the GPS had also failed. Fortunately, the collaboration with PSU will allow a GPS swap without the cost of an additional trip. This is a great example of how vital local Panama collaborations are to saving time and money on basic maintenance to keep data flowing.

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Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:38  America/Denver