WEB-IS: Web Based Interrogation System

WEB-IS, for Web-based Interrogative System, allows remote, interactive visualization of large-scale 3-D data over the Internet, along with data analysis and data mining capabilities. WEB-IS allows users to navigate through their rendered 3-D data and interactively analyze the data for statistics or apply data mining techniques, such as cluster analysis. We take advantage of a client-server paradigm in order to keep the processor intensive tasks, such as visualization and data mining, on the server-side while the client provides the front-end interface. WEB-IS uses a combination of CORBA, Java, C++ and Python to seamlessly integrate the server-side processing and user interaction utilities on the client. The server renders 3-D data off-screen and sends the resulting image buffer data over the Internet to a Java applet on the client to be displayed. In turn, the client responds to user interaction through requests sent to the server for additional visualization or data analysis tasks. In this way, the user can interact with the client from a web browser located thousands of miles from the server and the data, but view the results as if they were occurring locally. Using this tool, researchers from around the world can visualize and analyze large-scale 3-D datasets from any web browser with a current Java1.4 plug-in (

See an example:

WEB-IS4 for phase diagrams

Visit WEB-IS:

For more information:

Maxwell Rudolph

Evan Bollig

Ben Kadlec

Visualization of 3D Mantle Data

The motivation of this study is to analyze the effects of radiative thermal conductivity and the post perovskite ("ppv") phase transition on upwelling plumes. Thermal plumes are important to mantle convection and other Earth inner processes. The data was generated from a parallelized 3D convection code (MPI). The code solves the flow field using a multi-grid method. The program was run on the Earth Simulator in Yokomama, Japan on a total of 128 CPU's across 16 nodes. The data fields that are separated into two categories: temperature and 3D velocity.  Each field is on a grid size of 512 X 512 X 128.  The grid represents a 3D slice of the Earth's mantle. Multiple grids represent multiple time steps.

Here are a few simulations:

Click on the image to veiw an example of mantle visualization

In these simulations, the purple color represents negative direction of flow and green represents a positive direction of flow.

Click on the image to veiw and example of mantle visualization

For more information:

Megan Damon

Ben Kadlec

Mantle Convection

This graphic was produced on Monday, June 13, 2005 using Amira 3.1.1 on a Windows XP operating system. It visualizes a mantle convection simulation with four different perturbations. It has a 'l value' of 256 and a Raleigh number of 106. It is possible to tell by the image that the convection has broken symmetry.

For more information:

Shuxia Zhang

Shuo (Mark) Wang

Subducting Plates

The current generation of shared-memory supercomputers has allowed us to perform numerical simulations of a subduction zone using up to on billion markers in two dimentions. Our modeling scheme couples an Eulerian finite-difference method with a Lagrangian marker-in-cell approach in order to solve a set of equations that describe the driving forces in subduction. In these simulations we have found partially molten hydrated upwellings in the upper mantle wedge instead of the expected hot rising mantle flows. These have been named wet cold plumes and can be seen in our subducting plates simulations.

However attempting to visualize one billion tracers in indeed a daunting task. To solve this problem for remote visualization we have developed WEB-IS, a zoomed-in image service based on the web. It allows the user to explore our data through time, across many thermo-physical properties and through different spatial scales. This project is explained in more detail in the WEB-IS section located at the top of this page.

Here are a few simulations:

Animation of subduction

Click an image to veiw movie

For more information:

Taras Gerya

Maxwell Rudolph

Weronika Gorczyk


Using four-dimesional variational data assimilation (4D-VAR) we are able to predict the behavior of turbulent plumes with faulty initial conditions. To test this method we grow a plume with set initial conditions and known final conditions, then we add a small error to the initial conditions and grow the plume again using the 4D-VAR method. For a predetermined time we iterate backward or forward and compare the data from the first plume with known conditions. This is done with varying time in order to test how long we can accurately predict the behavior of a plume with unknown initial conditions. The Rayleigh and Prandtl numbers are varied to test their effects on an accurate prediction.

Below is an example of a "growing" plume:

For more information:

Catherine Hier Majumder

Erik Sevre

Gretchen Beebe

Monica Christiansen

Fast Timescale Phenomena at Changbaishan Volcano as Inferred from Recent Seismic Activities

The Changbaishan (Baitoushan) volcano, located at the norththeast frontier of the North China craton, is the highest mountain in northeast Asia. This rhyolite stratovolcano is far from the Pacific Plate subduction zone, but the subducting slab extends into the interior of the Asian continent. A NNW deep earthquake strike belt, with source depth between 500-600km, is situated 250-300km northeast to the volcano. There are other Cenozoic volcanoes in the area, such as Tudingzishan, Xiaobaishan, Baotaishan, Lufeng, Huangfeng, which form a NW volcano belt nearly parallel to the 500km deep earthquake belt. In 1999, an integrated monitoring system was established in Changbaishan Volcano Observatory to observe the seismicity, surface deformation and geochemical variations. We have analyzed this data at a short timescale and using cluster analysis. When looked at across a span of 5 years there can be seen a relationship with clusters of seismic events grouped at a small time scale (in the order of a few years) which signal a precursor to impending eruptive events.

Click on the image to view presentation poster

For more information:

Ben Kadlec

Visualizations of the new "Super Earth"

We are now working on visualizing the properties of the newest discovered planet under the huide of Porfessor Arie Van der Berg from the University of Urecht in the Netherlands. Withe his scientific programs we aim to visualize the most probable events occuring on this super earth. Assuming this planet to have the same core to planet mass ratio as Earth, we can derive a number of initial conditions to begin the computations. Here is what the news has to say about this newest planet:

Astronomers announced today the discovery of the smallest planet so far found outside of our solar system. About seven-and-a-half times as massive as Earth, and about twice as wide, this new extrasolar planter may be the first rocky world ever found orbiting a star similar to our own.

"This is the smallest extrasolar planer yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin."

Michael Schirber

Click on the image below to view the first trial run visualization of the temperature variations between the phase boundaries of the planet.

For more information:

Arie Van der Berg

Gretchen Beebe


The Virtual Laboratory for Earth and Planetary Materials, VLab, funded by the National Science Foundation and hosted by the Supercomputing Institute for Digital Simulations and Advanced Computation at the University of Minnesota, is an interdisciplinary consortium dedicated to the development and promotion of the theory of planetary materials. Computational determination of geophysically important materials properties at extreme conditions provides today, and maybe for a long time to come, the most accurate information to a) interprete seismic data in the context of likely geophysical processes and b) be used as input for more sophisticated and reliable modeling of planets. The laboratory aims to accelerate developments in this emergent area by:

For more information: