Pile driving in chalk and calcarenite

Modelling offshore pile driving in chalk and calcarenite soils using a hybrid continuous-discontinuous method

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Offshore piles remain as one of the most common foundations of offshore structures such as offshore wind farms for renewable energies. Up to 10 m diameter monopiles are being used as foundations for wind turbines installed in chalk or calcarenite soils in seabed. Chalk and calcarenite soils are problematic, whose strength varies significantly during pile driving compared with that of traditional soils and rocks. Moreover, there is currently limited guidance regarding the installation of large diameter piles in such weak rock and/or very hard soils. The crushing around the pile end especially requires more rigorous investigation. Developing a better understanding of driving piles in weak rock has the potential to allow significant optimisation of pile design and reduce installation risks and costs.

This project aims to model pile driving by the state of the art hybrid finite-discrete element method (HFDEM) parallelized on the basis of general-purpose graphic-processing-units (GPGPU) using compute unified device architecture (CUDA) C/C++. This allows large deformation as well as crushing of chalk and calcarenite to be simulated.

Successful PhD candidates are to be rewarded additionally with the opportunity of collaborating Dr Daisuke Fukuda in Hokkaido University in Japan in terms of further developing and parallelizing HFDEM as well as A/Prof Yinghui Tian at University of Melbourne and Dr Tingfa Liu at University of Bristol in term of investigating the crushing behaviour of chalk and calcarenite.

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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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

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:

  • First-class honours degree or master degree in the area of civil engineering or closely related discipline

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Track-record of high-quality journal publications
  • Excellent communication skills in both spoken and written English
  • Numerical simulation skills such as DEM, FEM and FVM
  • Other related laboratory or numerical competence

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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