UC News - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

UC professor uses supercomputer to simulate quake


University of Canterbury Professor in Earthquake Engineering Brendon Bradley has, using UC's Blue Gene supercomputer, simulated the ground shaking from the 14 February earthquake.

23 February 2016

Wondering what it looked like when the earth moved on Valentine’s Day? University of Canterbury Professor in Earthquake Engineering Brendon Bradley has, using UC’s Blue Gene supercomputer, simulated the ground shaking from the 14 February earthquake.

Professor Bradley uses a model that has been extensively validated in the previous Canterbury earthquakes to create the simulation.

“We can use this model to predict the shaking in Christchurch depending on where the earthquake occurred. In the latter part of the simulation you can see that there’s different shaking depending on where you were.

“Like dropping a stone in a pond, the ripples initially radiate outward in different directions. However, after a short while the complex geology of the region changes the way the waves propagate,” Dr Bradley says. 

From a physical perspective, the simulation shows shaking which is focused in the northwesterly direction towards Parklands, Kaiapoi and New Brighton with reduced levels of shaking in other directions, such as in the South and West towards Lyttelton and also towards Rolleston.

“The other critical aspect is that these simulations are very intensive, they would take 100 days to run on a laptop computer.  We make use of the University’s supercomputer to run the calculations in 4 hours.  By having a semi-automated procedure for extracting earthquake information from GeoNet we are able to collect all the necessary data, run the calculation, and process the outputs within a day.  This near real-time information on ground shaking is extremely useful to understand the expect levels of damage in the region and inform decision making,” Dr Bradley says. 

You can see Professor Brendon Bradley’s earthquake simulation here:

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew
Senior External Relations Advisor
Communications and Engagement
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775
Mobile: 027 5030 168
margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz