The event caused nearly 200,000 deaths across 15 countries, and released as much energy above and below ground as multiple centuries of US energy usage.

Researchers have a wealth of information related to semi-regular, lower-to-medium-strength earthquakes, but disasters such as the Sumatra-Andaman--events that only happen every couple hundred years--are too rare to create reliable data sets.

In order to more fully understand these events, and hopefully provide better prediction and mitigation methods, a team of researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU) and Technical University of Munich (TUM) is using supercomputing resources at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) to better understand these rare, extremely dangerous seismic phenomena.

"Our general motivation is to better understand the entire process of why some earthquakes and resulting tsunamis are so much bigger than others," said TUM Professor Dr. Michael Bader.

Using the SuperMUC supercomputer at LRZ, the team was able to simulate 1,500 kilometers of non-linear fracture mechanics--the earthquake source--coupled to seismic waves traveling up to India and Thailand over a little more than 8 minutes of the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake.

Through several in-house computational innovations, the team achieved a 13-fold improvement in time to solution.

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