Novel model for rock dynamic fracture

Hybrid finite-discrete element model for dynamic fracture of rocks under impact loads and resultant fragment debris flow

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The prediction of the dynamic fracture of brittle materials such as rock and concrete is of major importance in engineering and materials science since it is involved in a wide range of applications, which include the design of safe and resilient structures exposed to impact, explosive loading or crash events; the optimisation of efficient and reliable rock drilling and blasting techniques for accessing deep underground; and the development of protective and durable materials. In recent decades, a huge effort was made to develop novel, efficient and accurate computational methods for investigating the fracture. Although an enormous progress has been made, the dynamic fracture induced by impact loads is worthy of further studies.

This project continues the efforts of the computational geomechanics team led by Dr Hongyuan Liu in developing a hybrid finite-discrete element method and parallelizing it on the basis of heterogeneous CPU and GPU parallel computation as an innovative and efficient numerical tool for investigating the dynamic fracture of brittle materials under impact loads. Digital twins of unconfined and confined split Hopkinson pressure bar testing apparatus are first established using the hybrid finite-discrete element method to investigate the dynamic fracture of rocks under impact loads. The project will then investigate rock fragmentation by blast in deep underground with high in-situ stress and resultant fragment debris and mixing behaviours in subsequent transferring points.

Successful PhD candidates are to be rewarded additionally with the opportunity of collaborating Dr Daisuke Fukuda in Hokkaido University Japan for further developing and parallelizing the hybrid finite-discrete element method and Dr Ewan Sellers and Dr Ebrahim Fathi Salmi at CSIRO for practical engineering applications.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Hong Liu


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.

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 good background on continuous or discrete mechanics, computer programming with C/C++ and computer graphics

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Be familiar with Multiphysics coupling, finite-discrete element method or GPU programming with CUDA

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 Hong Liu 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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