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Tuesday, April 4, 2006

From American Scientist:

Computers Provide a New Look at a 100-Year-Old Disaster

A diverse team of geophysicists and mathematicians announced a computer simulation of the great earthquake that rocked San Francisco in 1906, an effort that they hope will inform precautions for future earthquakes in the area.

"The is the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture of how the ground shook nearly 100 years ago," said Mary Lou Zoback, coordinator of the U.S. Geological Survey's earthquake hazards team.

The new simulation took two years to create, using supercomputer time at Stanford, UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and URS Corp., a Pasadena engineering firm.

Research geophysicist Brad Aagaard said the speed of the 1906 quake was "phenomenal," traveling 300 miles along the San Andreas Fault at up to 13,000 mph. Much of the city was destroyed within 4 seconds. "I'd be under the nearest table the second I felt the first shudder," he said.

Among other sources, Aagaard said his team used data from scientists who began studying the 1906 quake just three days after it struck. A full video of the new simulation will presented next month at a joint conference sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the Seismological Society of America and the California Office of Emergency Services.

There is even a video.


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