The process of accurately estimating factors of safety or ultimate loads, frequently known as stability analysis, is one of the most important steps in the design and construction of civil infrastructure. Natural geomaterials such as soils and rocks, however, are highly variable and can exhibit a wide range of behaviors according to their loading conditions. Moreover, they are subject to water seepage, weathering and sometimes cyclic loading. Thus, to confidently predict the performance of infrastructure founded in or on geomaterials, advanced numerical methods are needed to simulate their complicated behavior. In the past few years, several innovative numerical methods have been developed by investigators within the PRCGSE. These include advanced Finite Element Limit Analysis (FELA), the Particle Finite Element Method (PFEM), the Phase Field Method (PRM), the Adaptive Discontinuity Layout Optimisation method (ADLO), and fully coupled finite element analysis allowing for dynamic loading and contact interfaces.
Find out more about some of the current projects related to this theme:
The PRCGSE is developing a novel whole-process method by combining FEM and DDA to model the nonlinear deformation and failure behaviors of fractured rock slopes and rock masses, and to provide tools to simulate the transformation of rock materials from continua to discontinua as they undergo loading-induced fracturing.
Research within the PRCGSE has led to the development of an Adaptive Discontinuity Layout Optimisation (ADLO) algorithm which improves the computational performance of DLO through the use of mesh refinement and enhancements to the core solution procedure.
In geotechnical engineering, stability analysis is used to predict the maximum load that can be supported by a geostructure without inducing failure. Read about the PRCGE's methods for the solution of stability problems in geomechanics.
The Particle Finite Element Method is particularly useful for free-surface problems, fluid-structure interaction problems where large deformation on the physical domain is observed, and multiphase problems.