The Tibetan Plateau, known as 'the roof of the world,' rises about three miles, or five kilometers above sea level.
The details of how it formed remain hidden to scientists today. The leading theory holds that the plateau formed and is maintained by the northward motion of the India plate, which forces the plateau to shorten horizontally and move upward simultaneously. Scientists can't yet totally account for the speed of the movement of ground below the surface at the Tibetan Plateau or what happened to the Tethys Ocean that once separated the India and Eurasia plates.
But a piece of the puzzle might have been found. The bottom of the transition zone goes to depths of kilometers, she said. The collision of plates at the Tibetan Plateau has caused devastating earthquakes, such as the recent Nepal earthquake at the southern edge of where the two plates meet. Scientists hope to use earthquakes to model the substructure and better understand the origins of these earthquakes. To reach any kind of understanding, the scientists first grappled with some big data, 1.
Even with the tools in place, the study was still costly.
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As you can imagine, that's a very expensive proposition just for one iteration simulating all these earthquakes. It took us two years to develop this current model beneath East Asia. Hopefully, in the future it's going to be even faster. Three-D imaging inside the Earth can help society find new resources, said Tromp. The iterative inversion methods they used to model structures deep below are the same ones used in exploration seismology to look for hidden hydrocarbons.
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She said their ultimate goal is to make everything about seismic imaging methods automatic and accessible by anyone to better understand the Earth. It sounded something like a Google Earth for inside the Earth itself. Assisted by the supercomputing systems of XSEDE, you can have a tour inside the Earth and possibly make some new discoveries.
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