Knowledge of the surface topography, velocity field and strain field at an ice-core site is critical to the accurate interpretation of ice-core records. At Dome Argus (Dome A), where a Chinese deep ice-core drilling project is being carried out, we have produced an accurate surface digital elevation model from GPS measurements in January 2013 at 47 sites. We identify two peaks at Dome A, with the northern peak ~7 cm higher than the southern peak. Repeat GPS measurements at 12 sites in 2008 and 2013 provide a surface velocity field around the dome. The surface velocity ranges from 3.1±2.6 to 29.4±1.2 cm a–1, with a mean of 11.1 ~2.4 cm a–1. The surface flow directions are near perpendicular to the surface elevation contours. Velocities from GPS are lower than derived from satellite radar interferometry (InSAR). From GPS velocities, the accuracy of velocity from the existing InSAR velocity field is determined, resulting in a standard deviation of 0.570 m a–1 in speed and 117.5º in direction. This result is consistent with the reported accuracy of InSAR, showing the value of in situ GPS measurements for assessing and correcting remote-sensing results. A surface strain field for the drilling site over Dome A is calculated from 24 strain triangles, showing north–south extension, east– west compression and vertical layer thinning.