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Simulations Break Down Potential Impact of a Major Quake by Building Location, Size

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The distribution of ground motion intensity across the San Francisco Bay Area 10 seconds after a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault.

Researchers are using supercomputers to model the effects of a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault in northern California.

Credit: Berkeley Lab

Two U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) national laboratories are using supercomputers to simulate the impact of a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault in California with unprecedented precision.

The research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shows how different seismic wave frequencies of ground motion affect structures of various sizes.

Berkeley Lab's David McCallen says these simulations give scientists a more realistic view of a major earthquake's potential impact on the region.

The team recently ran a simulation using the Cori supercomputer at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Center to simulate high-frequency (5-hertz) ground shaking. The researchers also simulated ground motions at various frequencies, which were fed into a second computer program for building response to quantify seismic risk.

In 9,600 structural dynamic simulations, the researchers studied the risk variation on a 100-kilometer by 50-kilometer domain for events with magnitudes of 6.5 and 7.

High-resolution, physics-based simulations “can both increase understanding of and reduce uncertainties about the very complex processes at play in earthquake science and engineering," McCallen says.

From Berkeley Lab News Center
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