The rapid tectonic movement of Australia is screwing up GPS systems

“Australia, which rides on the world’s fastest-moving continental tectonic plate, is heading north so quickly that map co-ordinates are now out by as much as 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), say geoscientists,” Pauline Askin reports for Reuters.

“Australia’s continental tectonic plate is moving north at a rate of seven centimeters per year (almost 3 inches a year), Dan Jaksa, Australian Datum Manager at Geoscience Australia, said, and mapping systems haven’t kept pace,” Askin reports. “Maps, and the navigation systems which rely on them, are based on Australia’s position in 1994.”

Askin reports, “Jaksa and fellow scientists are now recalibrating Australia’s place on the earth’s surface. Their new calculation, called the Geocentric Datum of Australia, will be released in 2017 and plots the continent’s position down to the millimeter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Behold the wonder of our ever-changing Mother Earth! It’ll be nice for pilots, farmers, autonomous vehicle researchers, etc. when Australia is no longer “a little off.”

37 Comments

      1. Consonant also means “in agreement or harmony with.
        in agreement with, consistent with, in accordance with, in harmony with, compatible with, congruous with, in tune with
        “these findings are consonant with recent research”

        Though I might have mangled the grammar a little bit. 🙂

  1. Here we go. Anthropogenic Tectonic Change. Hockey Puck graph demonstrates dramatic increase caused by gun use and fossil fuels in America. Scientists all agree.

    DETAILS HOURLY on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC. Stories appearing in NY TIMES, LA TIMES, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, this week.

    Clinton Foundation already accepting donations to combat Tectonic Change. Hillary Clinton calls Tectonic Change the issue of the decade. Donald Trump once again demonstrating his cluelessness said, “Wait, huh what?”

    Al Gore says in 5 years we won’t be able to find Australia let alone spell it.

    Make Donations to help Wallabies and Wombats find their way home.

    #TectonicChangeIsReal

    1. There is a fairly simple experiment for skeptics to test the global warming theory. Go to almost any ocean beach in the world, wade into the water, and stand for ten minutes with your nostrils a half-inch above the sea level at that location at the corresponding stage of the tides in 1900. If you survive, we will know you were right.

      1. Skeptics aren’t going to test diddly-squat, and you know it. They are going to go with the beliefs of their clans whatever they might be. How many independent thinkers do you personally know? They are more rare than hen’s teeth. MDN “independent thinkers” invariably copy and paste internet articles. I lurk here hoping to find an “independent thinker” and the best I have found in five years are UFO enthusiasts and utopian fantasists. Oh, and Horace Dediu and Gregg Thurman…maybe Road Warrior. Slim pickings.

        1. There are a few people on this forum who do not rely upon political parties, religion, or gut-feel to define their belief systems…people who are willing to consider a wide range of data and competing theories, and who place the greatest credence on conclusions backed by thorough, peer-reviewed scientific assessments.

          Go to your political party for soundbites and indoctrination on why their chosen ones should have power over your life.

          Go to your church and religious representatives for moral guidance and indoctrination on why their chosen ones should have control over your life.

          Go to your gut to provide feedback from your conscience on your degree of comfort with your treatment of others (or on your latest meal).

          Go to reputable, comprehensive, and peer-reviewed scientific and technical data when you need guidance on making decisions involving science and technology – physics, biology, chemicals, environment, etc. Science is not perfect, but at least the scientific process has, as its basis, the drive to achieve a better understanding of things through rigorous and verifiable means.

          1. TxUser and I both referred to skeptics, Kingmel, meaning climate skeptics. — Yes, I did hysterically expand that group to the group of all people who believe what they’re told by their chieftans. That was me generalising a rant about one obdurate clan to all clans. Sorry, but I’m not convinced I’m dead wrong to generalise thus, based upon my readings in neuroscience, history, and upon plain observation.

        1. The irony of a person named “Think” who doesn’t understand the difference between local and global conditions is pretty good.
          I mean, that ship makes for a cute headline, but thinking it’s “a rather simple test” is either someone joking or a pathetic misunderstanding of the reliability of the scientific process.

      2. Hey TxUser – at one time the sea levels were 400 to 500 feet lower than today. Sea levels vary greatly over time. They have already discovered over 200 villages on the bottom the Mediterranean Sea and more to come. What makes you think that today’s temperatures, sea levels, etc. are optimal and not a happenstance? There are no inherently correct levels. Grow up and think before you blab.

  2. 1.5 meters off?! That’s nothing. GPS often has me a full block away from my actual location, living on the relatively stable North American continent. There’s GPS, then their’s military GPS, which I’m told is far more accurate.

    How do you fix Australian GPS? Update the fscking GPS database! DUH. It’s not built out of stone.

    1. GPS is all (yes, ALL) about timing. The GPS system itself has nothing to do with mapping. The system uses four (or more) timing signals to let your device figure out where you are with regard to where the Prime Meridian crosses the equator.

      A few years ago, IIRC, they officially moved the Prime Meridian by several meters — and virtually no one noticed. Why? Because they moved it to a more accurate position that was more consistent with the position that GPS already used. Thus, no noticeable change for the vast majority of people who use GPS.

      Also, if your system is using ONLY the C/A code and nothing else, the specification for that really is “better than 100 meters”. Maybe the receiver set you’re using, Derek, is barely within the specification. The vast majority of receiver sets are much better, often getting better than 10 meters using just that C/A code. Also if you’re in a canyon (urban or natural) it’s possible you user set does not have a reliable, continuous fix on four or more satellites.

      There are five different GPS frequencies (if you include the L3 nuclear detection frequency) and for the latest GPS satellites one of those frequencies is even doubled up. There are also five different coding implementations spread across those four active GPS position/navigation/timing (PNT) frequencies. Thus your receiver could have over a dozen different signals from which to chose times a minimum of four satellites. (Well there is a technique that could use two satellites if you have access to it and the ability to resolve ambiguities independently.)

      This does not take into account the other PNT systems out there: GLONASS (Russian), Galileo (EU), Baidou (China), QZSS (Japan), etc. (Though some are not worldwide.) Using multiple systems can, in theory, greatly increase your precision (if not your accuracy).

      The vast majority of the population — today — does not care about accuracies that are better than a meter. They just don’t.

      However… IF self driving vehicles become the norm they will use PNT systems. They will require position accuracies of known, physical, fixed structures to be well under a meter — possibly within 10 centimeters or less. In those cases the systems will have to update on a yearly basis. Just think of the huge industry updating all those digital maps!!!

      1. One of the best comments I’ve ever read here Shadowself! (With deference to Hannagh’s posts) I’ve never dug into GPS tech details as I’ve always experienced it being clunky.

        Years back I started playing with it via a Palm PDA with a Rand McNally GPS back and software. It always had me two houses away from my actual location.

        At the moment I’m playing with a cheap old ZTE Android and it has me in the wrong half of the house, which is far more accurate than the old Palm GPS device. An autonomous car using this tech could at least get me to the right house. 😉

        1. There is also — stop me if you’ve heard all this — the need for the relativistic correction, but even that could generate location errors due to gravitational waves arriving without notice from a distant supernova, or gravity perturbation from a miniature black hole passing near or through the earth. Also, terrestrial mean surface gravity varies, especially in certain oceanic areas where the crust is especially thin and swelling magma creates an anomaly.

            1. You jest, but gravitational waves are a recent scientific confirmation, as notable as the discovery of the Higgs boson. Understanding how to anticipate and correct for signal distortion has been a hallmark of radio communications for 150 years and this is just the latest wrinkle.

              Science is all about “little details” that turn into monumental realisations about how the world really works, and the next thing you know we have magic wands. Which within a generation become commoditised, and arouse yawns. Wonder turns to dust, and the pundits declare and end to All Good Things. I hate the pundits.

            2. Heresy! You’re attempting to point out the interactive complexity and diversity of the universe. Relent and Recant!

              I enjoy perspective. If only we could design our world cultures to achieve, integrate and respect it. We’d be incredibly smarter as a species and avoid an incredible amount of pointless stress and destruction.

              As for physics, we have a lot to learn and unlearn.

            3. Cultures aren’t designed, they evolve naturally. That’s why perspectives solidify and become dogmas. And that’s why we aren’t smarter, because we hold on to outmoded ideas until their proponents die or are overthrown. And that’s why we have insane dictators giddy with power and a planet on the brink of extinction. — Let’s not quarrel, not with so little time left to live and love.

              Ah, love, let us be true
              To one another! for the world, which seems
              To lie before us like a land of dreams,
              So various, so beautiful, so new,
              Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
              Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
              And we are here as on a darkling plain
              Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
              Where ignorant armies clash by night.

              —Matthew Arnold

            4. It is so good to know you. <> Mr. Arnold has been added to the individuals in my Reading Room. Oh and I have T.L. Sherrod beside my bed, waiting until I finish ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’.

              Regarding cultures evolving naturally… Perhaps in the long run. I know you comprehend the attempts to ‘create’ culture by way of dictators. Mao’s attempt stumbles and bumbles on today in frustrating and frustrated China. But I wonder if his attempt wasn’t part of a larger and longer culture already present in China before his birth. I certainly see ancient culture pestering China’s distant cultural future.

  3. Now that we have the ability to measure time and position with incredible accuracy, it’s necessary to take into account that the Earth isn’t quite as predictable or consistent as we originally imagined.

    Most of us will know that some years have a ‘Leap Second” added to bring our clocks into sync with the actual rotation of the planet. Similarly we also need to make corrections to our mapping systems to bring maps in sync with how the contain nets are really positioned.

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