Earthquake predictions prove accurate for researchers

Feb 27, 2008

Two large earthquakes have occurred in quick succession in Sumatra, Western Indonesia, only months after University of Queensland researchers publicly identified the area as a high-risk zone for seismic activity.

The quakes, which were measured at 7.5 and 7.0 on the Richter scale and caused significant damage and at least three deaths between them, occurred on February 20 and 25 respectively, precisely in the regions pinpointed by researchers.

The successful forecast is just the latest in a string of accurate predictions made by researchers at the University's Earth Systems Science Computational Centre (ESSCC), using their pioneering advanced computer simulation software.

In December last year, centre scientist Dr Huilin Xing presented the accompanying research at the 40thannual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, to much international interest.

“We have been focusing on the computational mode and development for simulating earth crustal dynamics on supercomputers [for some time now],” Dr Xing said.

“The successful predictions so far have demonstrated the capability of our software, which has already drawn the attention of earthquake scientists from around the world… and some from China and the USA have already applied or will apply it to study earthquake behaviour of their own regions.”

Building on this breakthrough work, Dr Xing and team member Dr Can Yin are continuing to apply the modelling software to the southern Indonesian region that has become notorious since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

With the Eurasian and Indian/Australian tectonic plates converging just off the coast, Sumatran waters will likely be the site of seismic activity for some time to come.

“The question is how big and where it will happen in the near future, and whether it will induce a deadly tsunami,” Dr Xing said.

In the meantime, ESSCC researchers will continue to perfect simulation software and the prediction process, hoping to contribute to significant improvements in this important area.

“As we gain more experience in model construction and parameter selection, as well as more experience and confidence in the process, we will no doubt work towards a more accurate and reliable earthquake forecasting platform and filling more wide applications,” he said.

This will include the application of the crustal dynamics software in supercomputer simulation of hot fractured geothermal reservoir systems in the field of alternative energy; and with ongoing funding, exploration of other applications in regards to modelling the deep geological disposal of nuclear waste and carbon dioxide.

Dr Xing said these endeavours owed much to the ongoing support of the Department of Education, Science and Training, the Australian Research Council, and industry collaborators such as Geodynamics Ltd.

The ESSCC conducts research on the mechanics and physics of solid Earth processes on all scales using supercomputer simulation and by applying the methodologies of geophysical fluid and solid mechanics.

Source: University of Queensland

Explore further: Remnants of Tropical Depression Peipah still raining on Philippines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Melting during cooling period

1 hour ago

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

4 hours ago

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

New study outlines 'water world' theory of life's origins

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Melting during cooling period

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to high ...