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Gan Weijun et al. Went to Myanmar for Cooperative GPS Observation

2017/10/18 14:31:19

From March 6 to 16, 2017, Professor Gan Weijun, Dr. Zhang Keliang  and Liang Shiming traveled to Myanmar for cooperative research with the team of Professor Myo Thant of the Monywa University on GPS site selection and monument construction. The purpose of this trip was to implement the plan of a subproject, which aims to measure the present-day crustal movement and tectonic deformation of the Indo-Burma block south of the Eastern Himalayan Syntaxis, as part of a Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China - Deformation Processes of the Himalayan Syntaxis and Mechanism of Continental Subduction.

According to the overall plan of the project, in the next three years (2017-2019), Gan et al. will cooperate with the Mandalay University of Myanmar, the Monywa University, the Ministry of Education of Myanmar and the Myanmar Earth Sciences Society to  construct a  GPS network (Figure 1) across the central Myanmar in the subduction zone south of the Eastern Himalaya Syntaxis.The network consists of 20 campaign-mode GPS stations. Four campaigns of high-precision observations will be carried out in September 2017, March 2018, September 2018 and September 2019, respectively. On the basis of these observations, the current crustal velocity field of the Myanmar sub-plate and the current movement of the Sagaing Fault and the Kabaw Fault in Myanmar will be determined  by combining the existing GPS data in the area. Consequently, more comprehensive constraints will be provided for the research of the kinematics and  mechanisms of crustal deformation in the Eastern Himalaya Syntaxis (Figure 2).


Figure 1. The proposed GPS site distribution of the project. The 20 GPS stations across the major active faults in three profiles, and cooperate with the existing GPS  networks in the area to cover the Shan Plateau, the Central Basin and the Indian-Burmese Mountains as a whole

Figure 2. The Eastern Himalaya Syntaxis (box) with intense crustal deformation and tectonic movements. A large number of GPS observations have been made to the north of the Eastern Himalaya Syntaxis, while almost no in the south. The project will fill the gap in GPS observations in this region.

Despite a short 12-day period for the GPS site selection and monument construction in Myanmar, Gan et al. have achieved very high efficiency during the field work due to careful preparation and full communication before departure. They arrived in Myanmar on 6 March and discussed the specific plans of the field work with the team at Monywa University in that afternoon. At the same time, they have largely prepared the necessary materials, tools, vehicles, food and medicine for the field work.Accordingly, all the staff had arrived at the first site before the noon on the second day.


Figure 3. Scenes for the GPS site selectionand monument construction. The main task for the GPS site selection is to determine theideal locationaround the designed locations. The ideal location should be the bedrock foundation with an open view and have permission of land use  from local residents. The main task for the GPS monument construction includes foundation excavation and monument construction by hiring local people . One of the professional work is to install the forced-centering apparatus for GPS antennasand its leveling.

As planned, , the following tasks were completed:

(1) Selecting 10 GPS sites in Chin state and Magui province in the Midwest mountain areas of Burma and 2 in Sagaing Province and Mandalay Province in the central plain area (10 blue crosses and 2 red crosses in Figure 4).

(2) 2 GPS stations (red crosses in Figure 4) were constructed and the staff of Myanmar were fully trained. The purpose of the training was to ensure that the Myanmar partners could complete the construction of the other 10 GPS observation stations (blue crosses in Figure 4) independently, in accordance with the specific requirements of the project.


Figure 4. The result of GPS site selection and monument construction. The red crosses indicate the finished GPS stations; the blue crosses represent the selected GPS stations that will be constructed by the Myanmar partner before the rainy season in May. The yellow crosses represent the designed sites for selection and construction in the next visit to Myanmar. During  next visit to Myanmar, Gan et al. will also carry out the observation of the 12 finished GPS stations.

The experiences gained are as follows:

(1) Myanmar is a friendly neighbor of China. Due to its strong crustal deformation and special tectonic setting, this country faces major earthquake hazard. So far, the cooperation between geological institutions of Myanmar and China Earthquake Administration is still very little. Only individual cooperation, such as the projects for earthquake network assistance construction of the Ministry of Commerce of China, was developed in the past. Through this cooperation, Gan et al. deeply felt that Myanmar researchers are enthusiastic and looking forward to being able to cooperate with the China Earthquake Administration. It reminded Gan of the experience that he had when he first conducted GPS observations with the scientists of Paul Tapponnier’s research team of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in Franc in 1994. At the same time, this cooperation also reminded him of the words that Professor Jeff Freymueller, the famous geophysicist of University of Alaska, once said: "In the early days, American scientists felt the responsibility and obligation to educate the geo-science researchers from underdeveloped countries, and equip them with advanced research methods and means. Now, China's Geo-scientists also have the ability and responsibility to do so.” Indeed, in this collaboration, Gan et al. gave a detailed training to the Myanmar staff with an earnest and responsible attitude. They sincerely hope that the Myanmar’s scientists will be able to apply some of the methods and experience as soon as possible to their own geoscience research and earthquake disaster reduction.

(2) Although Gan et al. had done a lot of homework before the visit, many of the situations on the ground were still far beyond expectation.In terms of traffic conditions, they were subjectively thinking that for a 500km × 200km working area, as long as there are two Toyota 4500 off-road vehicles, they could travel the whole region in five days. Thus, they only made a 10-days plan for the site selection of the 20 GPS stations. However, when they arrived, they found that the road there only allowed vehicles to travel 20-30 kilometers per hour averagely. In many cases, the distance between the two places is less than 100 km from the map view, while the actual traveling was often twists and turns of a full day by car. Therefore, the locals would measure the distance between two places by how many hours it takes rather than by kilometers.Besides, in the whole stretch of the field work, they didn’t see a highway or a tunnel.The road conditions and circumstances are similar to those in Gan's hometown in the northwest of China in the 1970s. The contrast between our country and the neighboring countries made them more keenly aware of the tremendous changes in China over the past 30 years, their pride also raised spontaneously.

(3) Before the travel, the news of the domestic war in Myanmar kept them worried. Considering matters of security, the Foreign Affairs Department of the Institute had repeatedly asked them whether it is suitable for the travel. Fortunately, the situation was quite different from what they had expected when they arrived. It seems to be no any conflict in Myanmar and people didn’t show any concern or anxiety about it. They learned that the war in Kokang had no impact on the normal life and work in other areas of Myanmar. Therefore, in the future Sino-Myanmar international cooperation, the factors of war can be considered in the specific work area and do not have to be generalized. In general, Myanmar is a Buddhist country, people everywhere are very simple and kind. They give generous support and assistance, regardless of the privatization of land, when they learned that the purpose of the GPS site selection and monument construction is for earth science research. Simple and virtuous local people have made a good impression on their trip to Myanmar, which also gave them confidence for the four campaigns of cooperative GPS observation in the next 3 years.



(1)Detailed schedule:


March 5th


Air China, 21:20-01:05 (March, 6th)

March 6th


China Eastern Airlines Co, MU2029, 13:20-14:55

Went to Monywa University by bus

Discussed the specific plans of the field work with professor Myo Thant. At the same time, we prepared the necessary materials, tools, vehicles, food and medicine for the GPS site selection and monument construction in the field.

March 7th

Sagaing province / Monywa

Selected 2 GPS station sites (MBDL, MKNU) in the northwest of Monywa

March 8th

Sagaing province / Monywa

Constructed the 2 GPS stations (MBDL, MKNU)

March 9th

Sagaing province / Monywa - Pagri

Selected 2 GPS station sites (MMGN, MPOW) in the southwest of Sagaing province and Monywa

March 10th

Magwe Division/ Gangaw

Selected 1 GPS station site (MTGY) in the north margin of the Magwe Division

March 11th

Chin State

Selected 2 GPS station (MKLW, MFLM) sites in the northwest of Chin State

March 12th

Chin State

Selected 2 GPS station (MTDM, MHAK) sites in the north of Chin State

March 13th

Sagaing province

Selected 1 GPS station (MLTK) site in Sagaing province

March 14th

Sagaing province

Selected 1 GPS station (MGGW) site in Sagaing province

March 15th

Sagaing province

Selected 1 GPS station (MPAL) site in Sagaing province

March 16th


Return to Monywa, discussed the future work with Monywa University, signed a proxy agreement for GPS stations construction

March 17th


China Eastern Airlines Co, MU2030, 14:40-17:20

(2) List of Visitors:




Date of birth

Place of birth

Work unit


External identity

Gan Weijun



Shandan, Gansu




Zhang Keliang



Linqu, Shandong


Associate Professor

Associate Professor

Liang Shiming



Liuzhou, Guangxi


Research Assistant

Research Assistant


(3) List of main partner and communication information of Myanmar



Work unit



Myo Thant

Monywa University



Teza Kyaw

Monywa University

Associate Professor



Monywa University