Quantifying deformation in North Borneo with GPS

Mohamad Asrul Mustafar*, Wim J.F. Simons, Felix Tongkul, Chalermchon Satirapod, Kamaludin Mohd Omar, Pieter N.A.M. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


The existence of intra-plate deformation of the Sundaland platelet along its eastern edge in North Borneo, South-East Asia, makes it an interesting area that still is relatively understudied. In addition, the motion of the coastal area of North-West Borneo is directed toward a frontal fold-and-thrust belt and has been fueling a long debate on the possible geophysical sources behind it. At present this fold-and-thrust belt is not generating significant seismic activity and may also not be entirely active due to a decreasing shelfal extension from south to north. Two sets of Global Positioning System (GPS) data have been used in this study; the first covering a time period from 1999 until 2004 (ending just before the Giant Sumatra–Andaman earthquake) to determine the continuous Sundaland tectonic plate motion, and the second from 2009 until 2011 to investigate the current deformations of North Borneo. Both absolute and relative positioning methods were carried out to investigate horizontal and vertical displacements. Analysis of the GPS results indicates a clear trend of extension along coastal regions of Sarawak and Brunei in North Borneo. On the contrary strain rate tensors in Sabah reveal that only insignificant and inconsistent extension and compression occurs throughout North-West Borneo. Moreover, station velocities and rotation rate tensors on the northern part of North Borneo suggest a clockwise (micro-block) rotation. The first analysis of vertical displacements recorded by GPS in North-West Borneo points to low subsidence rates along the western coastal regions of Sabah and inconsistent trends between the Crocker and Trusmadi mountain ranges. These results have not been able to either confirm or reject the hypothesis that gravity sliding is the main driving force behind the local motions in North Borneo. The ongoing Sundaland–Philippine Sea plate convergence may also still play an active role in the present-day deformation (crustal shortening) in North Borneo and the possible clockwise rotation of the northern part of North Borneo as a micro-block. However, more observations need to be collected to determine if the northern part of North Borneo indeed is (slowly) moving independently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241–1259
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2017


  • GPS
  • Intra-plate deformation
  • North Borneo
  • Sundaland
  • Tectonic deformation


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