Mitigation of Geohazard Risks for Debris Flow

Mitigation of Geohazard Risks for Debris Flow with Large Deformation Numerical Simulation

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Heavy rainfall and a changing climate have a direct correlation with the frequency of large geohazard events. Heavy rain events are particularly challenging in the mountainous regions of the Tasmanian West Coast Wilderness. Two major categories of geohazards with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the Tasmanian West Coast Wilderness Railway are rockfall and debris flow, posing a direct threat to human life and critical railway infrastructure.

The primary objective of this research is to reduce risk and mitigate rockfall and debris flow failure hazards. To assess a range of potential risk mitigation measures using large deformation geomechanical methods, advanced numerical methods such as the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) and the Coupled Eulerian Lagrangian (CEL) method will be used to model geohazard behaviour, quantify the risks to railway infrastructure and develop innovative protective rockfall and debris flow barriers. The project aims to assess the performance of protective structures such as rockfall netting, rockfall shelters, check dams and debris flow barriers and develop sustainable engineering solutions. The proposed research project will focus on large deformation numerical simulation of soil-structure and fluid-structure interactions to address and mitigate rockfall and debris-flow risks. The project will improve the understanding of rockfall and debris flow behaviour, building on current geohazard risk assessment techniques to determine best-case measures for railway infrastructure protection.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Ali Tolooiyan


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must be commencing a new course of study with the University of Tasmania in the 2022 academic year

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A solid knowledge of soil-structure and fluid-structure interaction
  • A solid knowledge of numerical modelling methods such as (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics, Finite Element and
    Computational Fluid Dynamics)
  • Knowledge of a programming language (e.g. Python and MATLAB)
  • Strong academic background in engineering and capability to work independently
  • Motivated to learn and have a scientific mindset and team spirit

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Ali Tolooiyan, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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