In California, you often hear talk about “the Big One,” the inevitable earthquake on the San Andreas Fault that could lead to widespread devastation in the state. In his presentation at SC10 last week, Thomas Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, gave the supercomputing community a sneak preview.
Jordan showed a simulation video of a magnitude 8 earthquake being distributed around Southern California. With scenes of buildings shaking and roadways cracking, the video depicted where an earthquake might do the most damage. With the Pacific Plate is moving northwest at a rate of about 16.4 feet every 100 years, “That means we’ve got to have big earthquakes every 100 years,” said Jordan.
Normally, we learn these things from just hard experience but we think we can learn a lot about what to do from simulation,” said Jordan. “We can’t predict the future; we can’t predict earthquakes. But we can really begin to do some really detailed simulations, and that makes people think.”