Effect of partial drainage on plate anchor capacity in sand

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 20 months at the University of Toronto.

Project Description:
University of Melbourne and University of Toronto will be co-admitting an outstanding PhD student to conduct leading-edge research in offshore geotechnical engineering. The successful applicant will be admitted into a program that includes stays at both institutions, with funds available to cover the cost of travel in addition to the normal research funding. The applicant will be awarded degrees from both institutions upon successfully completing their program requirements. The four-year PhD program includes taking courses at University of Toronto and conducting numerical and experimental research at both universities. The ideal start time is September 2021.

The recent growth in offshore floating renewable energy devices requires economic anchor solutions for sand. Plate anchors can represent such solution, although their response to realistic loading under offshore conditions still requires a more robust understanding, particularly under partially drained conditions imposed by rapid loading rates (e.g. under severe storm condition). Partial drainage (or the worst case scenario of undrained condition) occurs when the water in the porous sand skeleton is unable to drain away upon loading, resulting in a rapid increase of pore water pressure or generation of excess pore water pressures. The reduced drainage has a significant effect on the sand strength, which, in turn, affects the capacity of plate anchors. To date, there is limited numerical capability in simulating partially drained capacity of plate anchors in sand. The numerical modelling will be able to unveil the pore pressure distribution and failure mechanism during partially drained pull-out of the anchors – insights that underpin understanding but are difficult to obtain through other techniques.

This project aims to investigate the effect of partial drainage on plate anchor capacity in sand using numerical and experimental approaches. The specific aims of this project, along with the research methodology and timeline/location of the research, are:

  • Months 0-8, Toronto
    • Course work and comprehensive exam
  • Months 9-20, Toronto
    • Developing a coupled plate anchor model in commercial software, ABAQUS.
  • Months 21-48, Melbourne
    • Performing experimental study of partially drained plate anchor pull-out tests in sand for validation of numerical results
    • Performing numerical parametric studies to understand various influences on plate anchor response

The outcomes of the project will be integrated into an accessible design tool to enable better predictability of anchors capacity under partial drainage in sand in engineering practice.

Supervision Team:
Dr Shiao Huey ChowA/Prof Yinghui Tian (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Mason Ghafghazi (University of Toronto)

How to Apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the lead supervisor.

Applications close February 22, 2021.