Facing wildfire threat, Los Alamos National Lab closes

Government research lab is home to IBM Roadrunner, first system to break petaflop barrier

The Los Alamos National Laboratory complex in New Mexico was closed Monday as an advancing wildfire threatened the U.S. Department of Energy research facility.

In an update posted on the lab's Web site at 8:20 a.m. MDT (10:20 EDT), Lab officials said that winds from the northwest have kept the fire from advancing on Lab property, "but forecasts call for a change by midday."

The threat is coming from the Las Conchas wildfire that began at about 1 p.m. Sunday on private land approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, according to the Incident Information System , an interagency reporting system.

The lab houses some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, including IBM's $100 million Roadrunner supercomputer that began running in 2008.

Roadrunner was the first system in the world to reach a petaflop performance, or one thousand trillion (one quadrillion) sustained floating point operations per second.

In a statement, the lab said that "observation aircraft are currently conducting aerial surveys to gauge the fire's growth and current size. Overnight, as a precaution, the Lab cut natural gas to technical areas in LANL's remote southwest area."

The lab also reported that "all hazardous and radioactive materials remain accounted for and are appropriately protected, as are key Lab facilities such as its proton accelerator and supercomputing centers."

"It's been a very long night for the fire crews," said Lab Director Charles McMillan in a statement. "There has been an outpouring of support from the region, the state and the federal government and for that we are profoundly grateful."

According to a twitter stream from KOB4, a local television news station and its reporters, including @GadiRoget, the fire as of 10 a.m. EDT had not breached lab property. More than 43,000 acres are involved.

A Webcam of nearby ski areas shows a large area dense with smoke.

To follow the fire on Twitter, hashtags in use include: #nmfire #losalamos #lanl #conchas.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov , or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com .

Read more about government/industries in Computerworld's Government/Industries Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Mainframes and SupercomputersIBMsecurityIndustriesgovernmentLos Alamos National LaboratoryGovernment/Industries

More about IBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaTopic

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Patrick Thibodeau

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts