Numerical simulation of lava flow using a GPU SPH model

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Alexis Hérault
Giuseppe Bilotta
Annamaria Vicari
Eugenio Rustico
Ciro Del Negro


A smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) method for lava-flow modeling was implemented on a graphical processing unit (GPU) using the compute unified device architecture (CUDA) developed by NVIDIA. This resulted in speed-ups of up to two orders of magnitude. The three-dimensional model can simulate lava flow on a real topography with free-surface, non-Newtonian fluids, and with phase change. The entire SPH code has three main components, neighbor list construction, force computation, and integration of the equation of motion, and it is computed on the GPU, fully exploiting the computational power. The simulation speed achieved is one to two orders of magnitude faster than the equivalent central processing unit (CPU) code. This GPU implementation of SPH allows high resolution SPH modeling in hours and days, rather than in weeks and months, on inexpensive and readily available hardware.

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Hérault, A., Bilotta, G., Vicari, A., Rustico, E. and Del Negro, C. (2011) “Numerical simulation of lava flow using a GPU SPH model”, Annals of Geophysics, 54(5). doi: 10.4401/ag-5343.

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