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High-performance computing

We have access to High-Performance Computing centres and dedicated support within Cardiff University and also at the UK National Supercomputing Service.

Advanced Research Computing at Cardiff (ARCCA)

The ARCCA division at Cardiff University (with support from Supercomputing Wales) has a research computing resource, Hawk, which features 19,416 cores, an Infiniband interconnect and more than 1 PB of file storage.


ARCHER2 is the UK National Supercomputing Service, based in Edinburgh. It is an Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cray EX supercomputing system with 748,544 cores.

Three dimensional (3D) Stereoscopic Visualisation System

The School of Earth and Environment Sciences has a bespoke 3D stereoscopic visualisation system that is used for teaching and research. Users wear polaroid glasses to view three-dimensional images that are projected onto a 3.5 metre wide screen.

Dedicated Support

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences employs a High-End Computer Research Development Officer to assist others to make the best use of these facilities.

How they help

The facilities have been used by the Tectonics and Geophysics Research Group for modelling mantle geodynamics as well as the rheology and potential seismic behaviour of tectonic faults. The Cold Climate Research Group has used the facilities to model of ice-ocean interaction in polar regions. Their research is funded by Research Councils, Private Industry and Charities.

The facilities allow us to undertake sophisticated simulations in 3D spherical geometry. These models include mantle circulation models (MCM) that incorporate plate motion history. The models can be directly compared, including by 3D visualisation, to actual observations for improved understanding.

The facilities have allowed us to better understand influences of mantle dynamics on surface topography, magmatism and seismic structure, and how variations in composition or stress state can control the seismic behaviour of faults:

  • In Price et al., (2019) we showed that Earth’s deep water cycle has a strong level of self-regulation keeping the vast majority of the water in the interior over Earth's history.
  • Two papers by Beall et al. (2019) discuss how lithological heterogeneity leads to local stress amplification in fault zones and how these stresses may potentially cause local changes in slip behaviour. Fagereng and Beall (2021) use these studies to suggest a general model for the effects of fault heterogeneity.
  • In Barry et al., (2017) we explained that the reason that the geochemistry of magmas from the ‘Indian’ and ‘Pacific’ domains remain distinct over 500 million years is because the subducted plates encircling the Pacific keep its heterogeneity within the basin, acting like curtains in the mantle.
  • In Wolstencroft and Davies (2017) we showed that in the debate of how supercontinents are broken apart there is no need to choose between the active process of impinging underlying hot mantle plumes, and the passive process of them being pulled apart by distant plate extension forces, since we showed that both processes are simultaneously active.
  • In Van Heck et al., (2016) we developed sophisticated modules to allow global-scale dynamic 3D spherical modelling to efficiently incorporate melting and isotope evolution, steps required for the previous publications.
  • The dynamic simulations of subduction in Garel et al., (2014) demonstrated the importance of the rheology of both subducting and overriding lithosphere and asthenosphere in controlling the resulting subduction behaviour and ultimate subducted slab morphology. These models have later been used by Beall et al. (2020) to discuss how lithosphere-scale subduction behaviour may also be reflected in subduction interface seismogenesis.


Helix Wall
Helix Wall