Mov­ing up in the world

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

Aus­tralia has shifted by 1.5 me­tres since the last ad­just­ment was made to its Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem (GPS) co­or­di­nates in 1994.

The shift is hap­pen­ing be­cause the In­doAus­tralian Plate on which the con­ti­nent sits is be­ing shoved north by the Antarc­tic plate and pulled un­der the Eurasian and Pa­cific plates at the rate of about 6.85 cen­time­tres a year.

The Indo-Aus­tralian Plate tends to move fast due to its unique ge­ol­ogy. In con­trast, the North Amer­i­can plate has been mov­ing roughly 2.54 cen­time­tres a year.

Cor­rec­tions have been made to Aus­tralia's lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude four times over the past 50 years. Fol­low­ing the lat­est change, the GPS co­or­di­nates would be re-ad­justed by the end of this year.

While a few cen­time­tres may sound like a small dis­tance, maps and mod­els of earth can be­come out of date be­cause of this shift.

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