View from Messina across the narrow Strait of Messina to Calabria, mainland Italy. This image was originally posted to Flickr by iwillbehomesoon at It was reviewed on 8 February 2013 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

The horrible power of tsunamis—vast waves generated by earthquakes under the sea—has time and again devastated islands and coastlines near the deep ocean, where most of these events occur. But in 1908, against all expectations, a deadly tsunami hit the city of Messina, coming up the narrow, shallow strait between Sicily and mainland Italy. Modern scientists’ attempts to identify the geological fault that generated the tsunami couldn’t reproduce the event in computer simulations, deepening the mystery.

Enter Lauren Schambach, then a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island. She used PSC’s Bridges platform to simulate a different scenario. Instead of being caused by movement of a fault directly, was it possible that the fault caused an underwater landslide that in turn generated the tsunami? For the full story, check out the Big Compute Podcast, Tsimulating Tsunamis, here.

You can find her journal paper on the Messina simulations here.

Look here for more about her tsunami simulations of the U.S. East Coast with Bridges.