Moving Earthquake Science Forward - Earthquake Simulation Codes and the SCEC-USGS Dynamic Rupture Group

Ruth A. Harris

Submitted August 7, 2018, SCEC Contribution #8322, 2018 SCEC Annual Meeting Talk on Mon 13:30

Computational simulations of earthquake rupture provide clues for deciphering earthquake behavior. In a perfect world, we would have a complete set of observations at Earth’s surface and at depth that would allow us to forgo simulations, but in reality, this is never the case and additional tools are required to fill the gaps in our knowledge about how earthquakes work. Dynamic earthquake rupture simulation is one of the tools that is being used. This type of computational simulation is powerful, but it is also complex, so additional steps are required to ensure that it is working as expected. The SCEC-USGS Dynamic Rupture Group has provided a solution. We developed an extensive suite of benchmark exercises that are used to test computer codes aiming to simulate dynamic earthquake rupture and the resulting nearby ground shaking. To date, more than a dozen codes have performed the exercises, demonstrating that they reliably produce similar results for fault rupture behavior and ground motions, when they use the same assumptions about fault geometry, initial stresses, crustal properties, and friction. Our website,, provides the details of our benchmark exercises and other information about our group’s work. As part of our investigations we have examined cutting-edge earthquake hazards problems, from a study of the effect of fault geometry on future large earthquakes near a power plant to examinations of off-fault yielding's effects on earthquake progress and near-field ground shaking. Our group has also set an example for how a long-running open and welcoming collaboration can move forward with interesting science discoveries while mentoring the next generation of scientists in our field.

Please see our new paper:
Harris, R.A., M. Barall, B. Aagaard, S. Ma, D. Roten, K. Olsen, B. Duan, D. Liu, B. Luo, K. Bai, J.-P. Ampuero, Y. Kaneko, A.-A. Gabriel, K. Duru, T. Ulrich, S. Wollherr, Z. Shi, E. Dunham, S. Bydlon, Z. Zhang, X. Chen, S.N. Somala, C. Pelties, J. Tago, V.M. Cruz-Atienza, J. Kozdon, E. Daub, K. Aslam, Y. Kase, K. Withers, and L. Dalguer (2018), A suite of exercises for verifying dynamic earthquake rupture codes, Seism. Res. Lett., 89(3), 1146–1162, doi:10.1785/0220170222.

Key Words
earthquakes, dynamic rupture, simulations, code verification

Harris, R. A. (2018, 08). Moving Earthquake Science Forward - Earthquake Simulation Codes and the SCEC-USGS Dynamic Rupture Group. Oral Presentation at 2018 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Fault and Rupture Mechanics (FARM)