Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Αdvanced computing in earthquake prediction

Earthquakes originate through complex interactions deep below the surface of the Earth, making them notoriously difficult to predict.

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and its lead scientist Thomas Jordan use massive computing power to simulate the dynamics of earthquakes. In doing so, SCEC helps to provide long-term earthquake forecasts and more accurate hazard assessments.

In 2014, the SCEC team investigated the earthquake potential of the Los Angeles Basin, where the Pacific and North American Plates run into each other at the San Andreas Fault. Their simulations showed that the basin essentially acts like a big bowl of jelly that shakes during earthquakes, producing more high-shaking ground motions than the team expected.

Using the NSF-funded Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Department of Energy-funded Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, the researchers turned their simulations into seismic hazard models. These models describe the probability of an earthquake occurring in a given geographic area, within a given window of time and with ground motion intensity exceeding a given threshold.
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