Geoscientific Adjoint Optimization Platform (G-ADOPT)

Transforming data-driven modelling capabilities across the geosciences through automatic code generation
Ice-covered Antarctic coast
zhu difeng – 208768576 /
Who will benefit
Researchers, research organisations, infrastructure providers, government (state and federal), geophysicists, data analysts

The Challenge

A branch of geoscience that studies the flow of matter in Earth’s interior and its impact at the surface, geodynamics depends heavily on modelling as well as observational data. A more mathematically rigorous way of ensuring models of geodynamic processes matche the reality is known as “inverse modelling”, where observational data is formally integrated into the model via an optimisation procedure.

However, inverse modelling is notoriously difficult and expensive. There were only a handful of approaches to inverse modelling in geodynamics, and they require that researchers to significantly simplify the problem they are solving for the approaches to be computationally tractable.

Inverse modelling is not exclusive to geodynamics. Making inverse modelling more accessible will help with answering big questions in all of the earth sciences as well as geodynamics.

The Response

Originally designed for geodynamics, the G-ADOPT platform is now taking away much of the difficulty associated with deriving and implementing inverse models across the geosciences.

The platform combines the dolfin-adjoint software library, which provides a state-of-the-art inverse modelling method, and Firedrake, which can automatically generate the code for the modelling. It does not require users to be specialists in computer science or applied mathematics, saves time, and promises code that is far more optimised than that written manually.

This platform will enable robust reconstructions of the history of mantle convection and its impact at Earth’s surface. It will facilitate the generation of unique 4D datasets of Earth’s evolution, which will be of great value across the geoscientific community, with traceable provenance of input data and model configuration in full compliance with the FAIR principles. With G-ADOPT, the first fully consistent adjoint inverse model has been delivered for geodynamics.

Beyond geodynamics, it will improve and accelerate modelling for tackling complex, transdiciplinary geoscientific challenges like sea level rise and acquiring renewable energy under climate change. The G-ADOPT team has also recently received funding from AuScope in the 2023 NCRIS Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (RIIP) funding round to participate in building the modelling component of the national Coastal Research Infrastructure (CoastRI). This will support further development and maintenance of G-ADOPT’s research software infrastructure for simulating glacial isostatic adjustment and solid Earth impacts on sea level.

Workshops have been and will continue to be held with international partners, users and other stakeholders. They were and will be for stakeholders to:

  • coordinate software development plans with international partners
  • refine data interfaces in conjunction with domain experts
  • train users
  • identify other applicable research areas
  • engage the broader community
  • plan for the future.

The next workshop will take place the ANU’s Kioloa Coastal Campus from 10 to 12 November 2024. Learn more and register now.

The Outcomes

Access G-ADOPT, a platform combining a state-of-the-art inverse modelling method and automatic code generation functionality to improve and accelerate modelling in geodynamics and other geosciences.

The G-ADOPT team is now working to deliver a dataset that reconstructs the evolution of Earth’s mantle over the last 60 million years, revealing how geodynamic processes within Earth’s interior impact the surface across different spatial and temporal scales. This will exploit the new functionality within G-ADOPT that spares users the trouble of rerunning the entire model, which is costly and time-consuming, should they need to refine it with new observations.

Who Will Benefit

For the first time, the broader geodynamics community can fully harness the surge in accessible observational datasets for more realistic, data-driven models. Using G-ADOPT, researchers can now make robust reconstructions of the little known evolution of Earth’s mantle.

Beyond geodynamics, G-ADOPT has been used by Australian and international earth science researchers to answer such questions as:

  • how sea level responds to the melting of polar ice
  • the distribution of rare metals and minerals required for renewable energy technology
  • placement of tidal turbines for maximum energy output.

Read more about how G-ADOPT is used across earth sciences.

With G-ADOPT, we’re really opening up inverse modelling to researchers with little to no experience in model development. This is a game-changer, allowing for data-driven simulation across different fields of geosciences.

Professor Rhodri Davies, Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES), Australian National University (ANU), leader of the G-ADOPT project

The Partners

G-ADOPT is a partnership between 5 Australian and overseas universities, 3 National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities, and the Australian Government. The partners are:

  • ANU
  • The University of Sydney
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Munich (LMU Munich)
  • ARDC
  • AuScope
  • National Computational Infrastructure (NCI)
  • Geoscience Australia.

Contact the ARDC

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