Australia Moved 7cm This Year And GPS Can’t Keep Up


Australia is the fastest moving nation in the world.

I mean literally fastest moving. Down Under appears to be moving up in the world at a rate of about 2.7 inches per year.

The current map we have is wrong because the Global Positioning System is struggling to keep up with it.

Aussie’s might not notice, but the tectonic plates underneath them are practically flying by geological standards.

Gareth Simpson/Flickr

In the last 50 years, Australia has reset the official coordinates of everything in the country four times to make them more accurate.

This is to correct for other sources of error as well as continental drift. The last adjustment, made in 1994, was of 656 feet. Enough to give your delivery driver an excuse for delivering your takeaway to the wrong house.

Though this seems like a pretty insignificant issue, the Australian government worries about the incorrect GPS because intelligent transportation systems that rely on finer accuracy are at stake, the New York Times reports.

The next adjustment is due at the end of the year and will be about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet).


This isn’t quite enough to throw off consumer level satellite navigation systems as they only tend to be accurate to the nearest 15-30 feet.

Norm Sims, a cattle ranch manager that is patrolled by pilots in Australia, said:

If we get a new pilot, he’s relying on GPS until he finds his way around landmarks.

The next generation of GPS devices however will be much more precise, potentially being accurate to the nearest inch or less.

Mining company Rio Tinto already has 71 ore trucks moving around iron mines in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, guided using GPS from an office in Perth, 930 miles away.


If a generation of driverless cars are to take Australia by storm, they seriously need to correct their GPS.

As Dan Jaksa from Geoscience Australia said, ‘If you’re 1.5 meters out, you’re potentially on the wrong side of the road’.