Impact of GPS satellite and pseudolite geometry on structural deformation monitoring: Analytical and empirical studies

X. Meng, G.W. Roberts, A.H. Dodson, E. Cosser, J. Barnes, C. Rizos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Global positioning systems (GPS) have in recent years been increasingly used to monitor the deformations of large structures, particularly the deflections of long suspension bridges. When appropriately employed, and with the presence of a strong satellite geometry, GPS can supply timely and accurate structural deformation information. However, the three dimensional (3-D) positioning accuracies in a local coordinate system are uneven. For instance, the vertical component of 3-D coordinates is less accurate than the horizontal component. In addition, GPS satellite availability tends to be a function of the latitude of the observation site and its surrounding obstructions. As a consequence, the accuracy of the north–south component is typically worse than that of the east–west component in mid-latitude areas (> 45deg), and in some of the worst situations the horizontal positioning accuracy could even degrade to the same level as that of the vertical component. With such measurements it might not be possible to correctly interpret the real structural deformations. Furthermore, an insufficient number of satellites, caused by signal obstruction, could make it impossible to use GPS alone for kinematic positioning, even when integrated with other sensors such as triaxial accelerometers. With the aim of improving 3-D positioning accuracies for the monitoring of structural deflections, especially in vertical and northern directions, the optimal location selection of an array of ground-based pseudolites to augment GPS satellite geometry using an analytical simulation technique proposed by the authors is considered. Achievable 3-D positioning accuracies are estimated by simulating a real bridge deformation scenario using augmented transmitter geometry and compared with actual positioning accuracies calculated from the measurements gathered from a bridge trial. The results show that with an augmented satellite geometry and multipath mitigation it is possible to achieve uniform 3-D positioning accuracies of a few millimetres.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-822
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • GPS
  • satellite
  • pseudolite
  • structural deformation monitoring
  • geometry


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