Anelastic Modelling of Antarctica

Advanced numerical modelling of viscoelastic deformation of Antarctica

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The Earth beneath is constantly changing shape due to phenomena such as earthquakes, glacial melting and even the tides. Small deformations in the Earth's surface (of the millimetre or even sub-millimetre scale) can now be measured due to the advent of precise GPS positioning technologies. In recent years, the theories underpinning these deformations have lagged behind the observations, necessitating the development of advanced numerical models capable of simulating Earth-scale deformation.  Seismic data indicates there are large variations in the viscosity of the mantle beneath Antarctica. This variability can affect the accuracy of models such as the Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA), which are used to correct satellite measurements of ice mass change.

Focusing on ongoing deformation of Antarctica, this project will further develop advanced three-dimensional large strain finite element models of the Earth, incorporating heterogeneous structural properties and viscoelastic behaviour to examine geomechanical processes underpinning Earth-scale deformation and deformation associated with one or more of these major forcings:

  1. Earthquake processes
  2. Glacial melting
  3. Tides – either direct gravitational forcing or due to the changing mass of the ocean tides
  4. Heating and cooling of the Earth over days and seasons and years

Models will be compared with precise GPS or GNSS coordinate time series.

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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus
  • Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering discipline background only

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 desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A solid knowledge of fluid-solid interaction
  • A solid knowledge of numerical modelling methods such as 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 your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Ali Tolooiyan to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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