The Strength of a Continent

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Science  04 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5454, pp. 814-815
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5454.814

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As Houseman discusses in this Perspective, recent advances in measuring crustal deformation rates, particularly using Global Positioning System (GPS) observations in conjunction with estimates of lithospheric gravitational potential energy, allow the strength of continents to be estimated. Flesch et al. (page 834) have devised a method for separating the two key components of the stress field driving crustal deformation and have used this method to estimate the distribution of lithospheric strenghts of the southwestern United States.