A UK e-Science project is revealing new scientific insights into earthquakes. Technologies developed under the Discovery Net project are enabling geophysicists to combine two different methods of studying earthquakes and so discover new knowledge that would not have been revealed using one method alone.
A previously unsuspected secondary fault associated with an earthquake in the Kunlun Mountains in South-West China has already come to light. Discovery Net was one of six finalists in the HPC Analytics Challenge at the SC05 supercomputing conference in Seattle last week.
One of the methods uses satellite images to reveal land movement on scales from tens of metres to hundreds of kilometres – the ‘macro’ view. The other uses finite element analysis to model the response of brick-sized volumes of rock to stresses and strains and then add them up to build a picture of likely land movement in the event of an earthquake – the ’micro’ view. Finite element analysis is often used to predict earthquake damage to buildings.
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