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SDSC Shows Scientists What's Shaking

Visualization Team Turns Big Siesmic Data Into Extreme Visualizations of Past and Potential Future California Earthquakes

Published 04/18/2006

The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

On April 18, 1906, the ground began to rupture off the San Francisco coast, violently shaking the earth for more than 40 seconds and leaving much of the Bay Area in ruins. Striking before dawn, the estimated 7.9 magnitude quake created a 300-mile long rip in the Earth's surface along the San Andreas Fault, traveling at speeds up to 8,300 miles per hour.

To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of this earthquake, SDSC visualization experts created a movie showing in extraordinary detail what happened that day based on the latest simulation performed by scientists at the USGS (United States Geological Survey), Menlo Park. Developed by SDSC researchers Steve Cutchin and Amit Chourasia, the movie was unveiled April 18, 2006 at the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference in San Francisco.

The conference is hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Seismological Society of America (SSA), and the California's Office of Emergency Services. For more information see

Center Helps SCEC Simulate Magnitude 7.7 Earthquake on San Andreas Fault

The southern part of the major San Andreas fault, has not seen a major earthquake since about 1690, and the accumulated movement may now amount to as much as six meters--setting the stage for an earthquake as large as magnitude 7.7--the "big one."

In January 2006, based on previous simulations at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), earthquake scientists from the Southern California Earthquake Center/Community Modeling Environment (SCEC/CME) ran enhanced simulations at SDSC using an improved TeraShake 2 earthquake model.

Read more on TeraShake 2.

SDSC Helps Scientists Simulate the Big One

In late 2004, a collaboration of 33 earthquake scientists, computer scientists, and others from eight institutions produced the largest and most detailed simulation to date of what may happen during a major earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault. The simulation, known as TeraShake, used the new 10 teraflops DataStar supercomputer and large-scale data resources of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego (UCSD).

Read more on TeraShake.