University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Simulating how the Earth works deep down

Several members of the Mantle Convection PetaApps project: Omar Ghattas, Lucas Wilcox, Carsten Burstedde, Georg Stadler, all of The University of Texas at Austin, and Michael Gurnis of Caltech.

Several members of the Mantle Convection PetaApps project: Omar Ghattas, Lucas Wilcox, Carsten Burstedde, Georg Stadler, all of The University of Texas at Austin, and Michael Gurnis of Caltech.

Plate tectonics was a revolutionary theory at one time. But over the years, it was accepted to explain the movements of the Earth that pulls continents apart and shoves them together.

An interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team of scientists is trying to understand how these plates move by creating the most detailed simulation of the earth’s mantle.

“We’re attempting, for the first time, to simulate the fact that the Earth has rigid blocks, and that they slide by other rigid blocks at a fine scale,” said Mike Gurnis, John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics at the California Institute of Technology and Director of the Seismological Laboratory.

The team is running the simulation on the Ranger supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Read about this “earthmoving” research in a story written by TACC’s Aaron Dubrow.

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