Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements made in 1991, 1992 and 1993 provide preliminary estimates of slip distribution between the Australian and Pacific plates in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. We interpret the GPS results with constraints from earthquake mechanisms and slip vectors, recent marine surveys, and geology. Three GPS sites in southeastern Irian Jaya show motions that are within 10 mm/yr of the expected motion of Australia. A coast-to-coast N-S baseline along 140.5°E crosses all known onland regions of active deformation but reveals no more than 15 mm/yr of shortening and 20 mm/yr of left-lateral shear in the 27-month period. The remaining 40 mm/yr of expected convergence between the Pacific and Australian plates probably occurs at the New Guinea trough. GPS sites on the island of Biak, at 136°E, and at Sorong, near the western tip of Bird's Head (at 131°E), both move 90-100 mm/yr in a WSW direction relative to Irian Jaya, but less than 15 mm/yr relative to each other. These sites are on either side of the Sorong fault and demonstrate that it is not presently the major boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates. Instead the plate boundary is now south of the Sorong and Biak sites. Earthquakes suggest possible structures that accomodate motion between Bird's Head and Australia but the relative importance of them remains uncertain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes