Earthquake Visualization Tools – Modeling Tools

Although we live on the earth, we see very little of it below the surface. And understanding what is beneath our feet is essential to understanding and, perhaps, one day predicting earthquakes. Since we cannot directly see into the earth, we use different methods to probe it and gather data about its structure and movement. But the raw data are hard to interpret, so visualization and modeling tools have been created to help researchers and the interested public better understand the interior of our planet.

In recent years researchers have used ever-faster computers to enable 3D-visualizations that they can ‘walk around’ to explore. Many of these techniques have been developed for oil exploration to better enable firms to understand how and where oil deposits exist and how best to safely exploit them. But most tools are openly shared with research colleagues around the world. In November 2017 it was announced that a Chinese team of researchers received the prestigious Gordon Bell prize for simulating the devastating 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China, using an open-source code developed by researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and San Diego State University (SDSU) with support from the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

Earthquake Visualization tools hold the promise to open up new ways of seeing and understanding our planet and what makes it shake.