Research on deformation precursors of earthquakes was of immediate interest from the middle to the end of the previous century. The repeated conventional geodetic measurements, such as precise levelling and linear-angular networks, were used for the study. Many examples of studies referenced to strong seismic events using conventional geodetic techniques are presented in [T. Rikitake, 1976]. One of the first case studies of geodetic earthquake precursors was done by Yu.A. Meshcheryakov . Rare repetitions, insufficient densities and locations of control geodetic networks made difficult predicting future places and times of earthquakes occurrences. Intensive development of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) during the recent decades makes research more effective. The results of GNSS observations in areas of three large earthquakes (Napa M6.1, USA, 2014; El Mayor Cucapah M7.2, USA, 2010; and Parkfield M6.0, USA, 2004) are treated and presented in the paper. The characteristics of land surface deformation before, during, and after earthquakes have been obtained. The results prove the presence of anomalous deformations near their epicentres. The temporal character of dilatation and shear strain changes show existence of spatial heterogeneity of deformation of the Earth's surface from months to years before the main shock close to it and at some distance from it. The revealed heterogeneities can be considered as deformation precursors of strong earthquakes. According to historical data and proper research values of critical deformations which are offered to be used for seismic danger scale creation based on continuous GNSS observations are received in a reference to the mentioned large earthquakes. It is shown that the approach has restrictions owing to uncertainty of the moment in the beginning of deformation accumulation and the place of expectation of another seismic event. Verification and clarification of the derived conclusions are proposed. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.