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Do Earthquakes Spread Like Wildfire? 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-whole-lotta-shaking-going-on dept.
sciencehabit writes "A simple model of forest fires could help explain the distribution of the sizes of earthquakes and their aftershocks, a theoretical physicist says. In the so-called Drössel-Schwabl model, trees sprout at random on a square grid like a vast checkerboard. Once the forest gets dense enough, lightning sets a random tree on fire, and fire spreads instantaneously among trees that occupy adjacent squares. The conflagration continues until there are no more neighbors to jump to. Then, the process starts all over again. In the team's model, the 'forest' is the plane of a fault cutting through Earth's crust, divided into a 10,000-by-10,000 grid. Sprouting trees correspond to the buildup of stress along the fault; burning areas, to the part of the fault that moves during a quake."
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Do Earthquakes Spread Like Wildfire?

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  • Missing parameters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RNLockwood (224353) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @02:25PM (#45633661) Homepage

    The wildfire model appears to ignore some parameters encountered in wildfires: air temperature, insolation, wind speed and patterns in 3D, terrain, relative humidity, moisture in the plants, winds created by the fire, litter, and some interactions between the local winds and those created by the fire, to name a few. Perhaps there are analogs in the model.

    It would have been more accurate to title this: "Do Earthquakes Spread as a Wildfire Model Predicts Wildfires Spread?"

    Never the less, it's ingenious.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell