Faster Than Real-Time Tsunami Simulations

 A Use Case by

Short description

Faster-than-real-time (FTRT) tsunami computations are crucial in the context of Tsunami Early Warning Systems (TEWS). Greatly improved and highly efficient computational methods are the first raw ingredient to achieve extremely fast and effective calculations. High-performance computing facilities have the role to bring this efficiency to a maximum possible while drastically reducing computational times. This use case will comprise both earthquake and landslide sources. Earthquake tsunami generation is to an extent simpler than landslide tsunami generation, as landslide generated tsunamis depend on the landslide dynamics which necessitate coupling dynamic landslide simulation models to the tsunami propagation. In both cases, FTRT simulations in several contexts and configurations will be the final aim of this use case.

Results & Achievements

Improving HySEA codes in CHEESE:

We have improved the load balancing algorithm. In particular we have added support for heterogeneous GPUs in the load balancing algorithm by assigning a numerical weight to each GPU.

We have developed a new algorithm for the nested meshes processing based on the current state values and we have implemented the activation of the nested meshes processing when a movement of the water is detected in their area.

Implemented asynchronous file writing by creating an additional thread for each MPI process using C++11 threads (see Table 1 at the end of this document).

Added the possibility of resuming a stored simulation.

Added sponge layers for a better processing of the border conditions, in order to avoid possible numerical instabilities in the borders of the domain. Implemented asynchronous CPU-GPU memory transfers.

We have dramatically reduced the size of the output files compressing the data using the algorithm described in Tolkova (2008) and saving most of the data in single precision files. A new version of Tsunami-HySEA has been developed to run simultaneous simulations on the same domain attending the requirements of PD7 and PD8, by executing one simulation on each GPU. This new version is able to use up to 1024 GPUs simultaneously with a very good weak scaling (losing around 3% of efficiency).

With these improvements, we obtain around 30% of reduction on the computational time with respect to the previous version of the codes.

The codes have been tested on CTE-POWER (BSC), DAVIDE and Marconi100 (CINECA) and Piz Daint (CSCS) supercomputers.


The aim of this use case is to provide robust and very efficient numerical codes for FTRT Tsunami simulations that can be run in massively parallel multi-GPU architectures.



The Faster-Than-Real-Time (FTRT) prototype for extremely fast and robust tsunami simulations is based upon GPU/multi-GPU (NVIDIA) architectures and is able to use earthquake information from different locations and with heterogeneous content (full Okada parameter set, hypocenter and magnitude plus Wells and Coppersmith (1994)). Using these inhomogeneous inputs, and according to the FTRT workflow (see Fig. 1), tsunami computations are launched for a single scenario or a set of related scenarios for the same event. Basically, the automated retrieval of earthquake information is sent to the system and on-the-fly simulations are automatically launched. Therefore, several scenarios are computed at the same time. As updated information about the source is provided, new simulations should be launched. As output, several options are available tailored to the end-user needs, selecting among: sea surface height and its maximum, simulated isochrones and arrival times to the coastal areas, estimated tsunami coastal wave height, times series at Points of Interest (POIs) and oceanographic sensors.

 A first successful implementation  has been done for the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), a service provided by the ARISTOTLE-ENHSP Project. The system implemented for ARISTOTLE follows the general workflow presented in Figure 1. Currently, in this system, a single source is used to assess the hazard and the computational grids are predefined.  The computed wall-clock time is provided for each experiment and the outputs of the simulation are maximum water height and arrival times on the whole domain, and water height time-series on a set of selected POIs, predefined for each domain. 

A library of Python codes are used to generate the input data required to run HySEA codes and to extract the topo-bathymetric data and construct the grids used by HySEA codes.

Software involved

Tsunami-HySEA has been successfully tested with the following tools and versions:

Compilers: GNU C++ compiler 7.3.0 or 8.4.0, OpenMPI 4.0.1, Spectrum MPI 10.3.1, CUDA 10.1 or 10.2

Management tools: CMake 3.9.6 or 3.11.4

External/third party libraries: NetCDF 4.6.1 or 4.7.3, PnetCDF 1.11.2 or 1.12.0


Nesting mesh generation tools.

In-house developed python tools for pre-processing purposes. 

Visualization tools:

In-house developed python tools.

Use Case Owner

Jorge Macías Sanchez
Universidad de Málaga

Collaborating Institutions

UMA, INGV, NGI, IGN, PMEL/NOAA (with a role in pilot’s development).

Other institutions benefiting from use case results with which we collaborate:
IEO, IHC, IGME, IHM, CSIC, CCS, Junta de Andalucía (all Spain); Italian Civil Protection, Seismic network of Puerto Rico (US), SINAMOT (Costa Rica), SHOA and UTFSM (Chile), GEUS (Denmark), JRC (EC), University of Malta, INCOIS (India), SGN (Dominican Republic), UNESCO, NCEI/NOAA (US), ICG/NEAMTWS, ICG/CARIBE-EWS, among others.