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Can Supercomputers Help Japan Predict Earthquakes?


Ranger supercomputer

Ranger supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center

University of Texas at Austin

Dell Computer and several U.S. universities have provided Japanese researchers with supercomputing capacity following the March 11 earthquake, as rolling blackouts have made it difficult for them to use their supercomputers to run simulations on the earthquake's effects. For example, six Japanese researchers used 117,000 computing hours in about two weeks at the University of Texas Advanced Computing Center. After the initial earthquake, Dell computers at the U.S. National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration lab calculated where the tsunami waves would hit. "It correctly calculated wave height and distance of where those waves would actually hit, but it took roughly 12 hours to do the total computation, which means they got the answer right, but if we'd been able to do the computation faster it might have been useful to the people on the ground," says Dell's Tim Carroll. The Dell supercomputers also are being used for seismic analysis of nuclear reactors and other buildings, as well as the radiation dissipation rates from sea water, ground water, and the atmosphere, Carroll says.

From Bloomberg Businessweek
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