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Southern California Earthquake Center Consortium Welcomes New Core Institution

San Diego Supercomputer Center becomes a voting member represented by Computational Scientist Yifeng Cui

Published March 3, 2022

 Simulation by Daniel Roten and Yifeng Cui at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Kim Olsen and Steven Day at the Department of Geological Sciences at San Diego State University. Visualization by Daniel Roten. Simulation on OLCF Titan.

By Kimberly Mann Bruch, SDSC External Relations

For more than three decades, the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) has been a consortium of universities and scientific institutions—one of the largest research collaborations in geoscience—that performs fundamental research in earthquake processes using southern California as its principal laboratory. While the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego has been a close collaborator of the SCEC community, in particular in areas of large-scale earthquake simulation and application development for 20 years, the SCEC Board of Directors recently designated SDSC as a core institution. 

“We couldn’t be more pleased by the opportunities presented to our team with this partnership as a core institution with SCEC,” SDSC Director Frank Würthwein said. “The future of earthquake research findings and the communication of those findings to the public is crucial to not only the future of California’s earthquake preparedness, but well beyond our own area in cyberinfrastructure developments; we are honored to play a vital role in this important work.”

SDSC has helped SCEC develop some of the most efficient and scalable earthquake simulation software on both CPU- and GPU-based architectures. For instance, an open source code co-developed by SDSC was used in a Gordon Bell prize-winning simulation in 2017, which is presented each year by the Assocation of Computing Machinery at the annual Supercomputing Conference. Another version of this code, providing equivalent results, is used as a workhorse with GPU acceleration to calculate ground motions from many single-site ruptures for CyberShake, a SCEC computational platform that generates the physics-based California state-wide seismic hazard map.

“We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to work with SCEC to expand our efforts in developing earthquake modeling tools and more,” said Yifeng Cui, a computational scientist at SDSC who has been appointed as the institutional representative for the SCEC Board of Directors. Cui is also one of the core developers of the aforementioned applications. “While we have a track record of joint efforts for end-to-end earthquake simulations in the past, our new role will strengthen research computing and data science across the center’s activities, while incorporating additional resources for training and guidance on both hardware and software, to support a globally renowned leader in earthquake science research.” 

According to Yehuda Ben-Zion, SCEC director and earth sciences professor at the University of Southern California, SCEC and SDSC have had a long and successful partnership. “We very much look forward to collaborating on expanded projects from cyberinfrastructure development, machine learning and AI, to community engagement that benefit from our complementary strengths,” he said.

Additional activities will involve collaboration between SCEC and the Cyberinfrastructure and Convergence Research and Education (CICORE) Division at SDSC, which is led by Ilkay Altintas. She said that her team is excited to work on new activities with SCEC under Cui’sleadership toward longer-term goals related to “earthquakes as hazards” and how best to educate an array of publics on the findings generated from the HPC simulations.

One of the first such projects will encompass code porting support to new HPC systemslaunching later this year, such as Aurora at Argonne National Laboratory and Frontier at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility. Frontier will be the first exascale computer built in the U.S. with a target computational performance of approximately 1.5 exaFLOPS. Cui and his SCEC collaborators are also partnering with Texas Advanced Computing Center, to prepare earthquake software for the future NSF Leadership-Class Computing Facility, which is being designed to have a ten-fold time-to-solution improvement over the current Frontera NSF supercomputer.

About SCEC

SCEC is a center-without-walls, headquartered at the University of Southern California, that has developed the virtual organization needed to coordinate and sustain interdisciplinary multi-institutional earthquake system science. The SCEC community comprises one of the largest research collaborations in geoscience, with more than 1000 active participants nationally and around the world.

About SDSC

SDSC, located at UC San Diego, is considered a leader in data-intensive computing and cyberinfrastructure, providing resources, services and expertise to the national research community, including industry and academia. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible, integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC supports hundreds of multidisciplinary programs spanning a wide variety of domains, from earth sciences and biology to astrophysics, bioinformatics and health IT.