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Materialized community ground models for large-scale earthquake simulation

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.1971 by Steven W. Schlosser, Michael P. Ryan, Ricardo Taborda, Julio Lopez, David R. O'Hallaron, Jacobo Bielak
Large-scale earthquake simulation requires source datasets which describe the highly heterogeneous physical characteristics of the earth in the region under simulation. Physical characteristic datasets are the first stage in a simulation pipeline which includes mesh generation, partitioning, solving, and visualization. In practice, the data is produced in an ad-hoc fashion for each set of experiments, which has several significant shortcomings including lower performance, decreased repeatability and comparability, and a longer time to science, an increasingly important metric. As a solution to these problems, we propose a new approach for providing scientific data to ground motion simulations, in which ground model datasets are fully materialized into octress stored on disk, which can be more efficiently queried (by up to two orders of magnitude) than the underlying community velocity model programs. While octrees have long been used to store spatial datasets, they have not yet been used at the scale we propose. We further propose that these datasets can be provided as a service, either over the Internet or, more likely, in a data center or supercomputing center in which the simulations take place. Since constructing these octrees is itself a challenge, we present three data-parallel techniques for efficiently building them, which can significantly decrease the build time from days or weeks to hours using commodity clusters. This approach typifies a broader shift toward science as a service techniques in which scientific computation and storage services become more tightly intertwined.


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