The usage of scientific computing within the Earth sciences is ubiquitous. The advent and availability of high-performance supercomputers has enabled unforeseen capabilities and opportunities to study the dynamics of the solid Earth. For example, over the last 30 years, computation played a major role in the development of our understanding of plate tectonics. Forward modeling of global scale mantle dynamics and regional scale lithospheric dynamics has had a profound influence on understanding (for example): the relationship between rheology, phase changes, compressibility and the style of convection; the dynamics and morphology of subducting slabs; the physical processes responsible for subduction initiation; the formation and stability of transform faults.
With a continual increase in both computational resources and their accessibility, we, as a community, have a window of opportunity to exploit: increasingly complex, realistic and more refined (spatially, temporally) models; large scale ensemble simulations; adjoint sensitivity analysis in 4D; and thus pave the way in addressing the next-generation of
scientific questions. However, classical discretizations, algorithms, and thus many existing Earth science software stacks are not able to fully exploit the compute potential offered by future computational infrastructure. Resolving this dilemma requires an inter-disciplinary research approach fusing the Earth sciences, applied mathematics, computer science and software engineering.
In this presentation, I will highlight several of my research areas which have advanced the state-of-the-art of computational modeling of: wave propagating in heterogeneous and geometrically complex media; multi-component, two-phase flow in subduction zones; and the dynamics of the lithosphere with a particular focus on continental rifting. I will also describe one of the core open-source libraries used within my Earth science software (PETSc - www.mcs.anl.gov/petsc
), and my recent contributions which advance existing and future computational Earth science projects.