Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Geotechnical Science and Engineering


  1. Dutch Company Takes on Board New Anchor Design

    Pic: Conleth O'Loughlin (COFS), Senol Ӧzmutlu (Vryhof) and Joris Roozen (Vryhof) with the DEPLA anchor.

    Pic: Conleth O’Loughlin (COFS), Senol Ӧzmutlu (Vryhof) and Joris Roozen (Vryhof) with the DEPLA anchor.

    An innovative offshore anchor designed by CGSE researchers at The University of Western Australia has already been snapped up by Dutch anchor specialists Vryhof Anchors.

    The Dynamically Embedded Plate Anchor (DEPLA) was developed by Associate Professor Conleth O’Loughlin, from UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS), and Dr Mark Richardson, a former PhD student at COFS.

    The new anchor design, aimed at mobile drilling units and floating production systems in deep and ultra-deep water, would reduce installation time, costs and materials, Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.

    Associate Professor O’Loughlin, who has been researching dynamically installed anchors for the past 10 years, said the anchor was a hybrid system able to sustain significant vertical load and required no external energy source or mechanical operation for installation.

    “The anchor resembles a dart, and is installed using gravity, similar to other dynamically installed anchors such as the torpedo pile,” he said.

    “However the main part of the ‘dart’, which we call the follower, is removed after the anchor is embedded in the seabed and re-used for the next installation.  This leaves the anchor flukes in the seabed, which then become the plate anchor.”

    Associate Professor O’Loughlin said global energy company Petrobras had been using a gravity-embedded design since the mid-1990s.

    “But the rest of the world has been slow to follow,” he said.  “However, one of the limitations of the Petrobras design is that it is not the most efficient – it doesn’t have a lot of capacity relative to its weight.

    “The DEPLA boasts all the installation advantages of the torpedo pile, but is much more efficient at resisting load, meaning that much smaller and cheaper units can be used for mooring offshore facilities.  Being able to re-use the follower is a significant bonus.”

    Vryhof project director Senol Ozmutlu said results indicated the DEPLA exhibited similar behaviour to other dynamically installed anchors during installation, but with much higher capacities and predictability than other dynamically installed anchors that resisted load in friction.

    The DEPLA has been tested at model scale in the geotechnical centrifuge facilities at COFS.  In these experiments, soil samples are spun at up to 200 times Earth’s gravity, creating stress conditions in the centrifuge sample that are equivalent to tens of metres of the seabed.

    The DEPLA was put through its paces in these tests, with the centrifuge data playing a pivotal role in informing the final design concept.  This is now a well-accepted approach for obtaining performance data of geotechnical systems and COFS is a world leader, with both beam and drum centrifuge facilities that are heavily utilised by the offshore industry worldwide.

    Vryhof’s Business Development Director Leo Bello said the company was extremely happy with the new anchor.

    “It will give us a reliable product for ultra-deep water uses that will help our clients reduce their overall mooring cost,” Mr Bello said.  “The DEPLA combines the advantages of dynamically installed anchors and vertically loaded anchors and is fully patented.”

    The DEPLA has been extensively tested at a quarter scale and it will be now Vryhof ‘s task to engineer and test a full-scale prototype.

    “Vryhof was the ideal industry partner to continue development of the DEPLA and we look forward to assisting them in making it a real prospect for the offshore industry” Associate Professor O’Loughlin said.

  2. PhD Student wins Young Professionals Geotechnical Competition

    PhD student S.M. Ali Tasalloti from the  ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering and the Centre for Geotechnical Railway Engineering (GRE) won the 2014 Young Professionals Geotechnical Competition open to both industry and academia.

    The competition, held in Sydney, was hosted by the Australian Geomechanics Society and Institution of Engineers Australia.

    Ali’s presentation, based on his PhD research, was conducted in front of a packed audience at the Engineers Australia Auditorium in Chatswood. Ali’s PhD research is supervised by Prof. Buddhima Indraratna,  Dr Ana Heitor, and A/Prof. Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn, and this is part of an ARC-Linkage project in collaboration with Port Kembla Port Corporation, Douglas Partners, Coffey Geotechnics, Menard Bachy, BHP Billiton and ASMS.

    The research team was tasked with the development of a suitable reclamation fill for Port Kembla Outer Harbour extension, as the conventionally dredged marine soils were found to be environmentally and geotechnically unacceptable.  Therefore the proposed project included the potential utilization of  blended steel furnace slag and coal wash, as a substitute for conventional natural fills for offshore reclamation. The blended Steel Slag and Coalwash material was tested in SMART geotechnical Laboratories  for ensuring the desired strength and deformation properties, before being tested in a field trial in Port Kembla,  and since then a considerable area of the Port is now reclaimed using this blended mix with great success.

    Ali faced stiff competition with excellent presentations from several young professionals from academia and industry, where the judging panel consisting of several academics and industry colleagues, considered the quality of both written papers (published in the Australian Geomechanics Journal)  plus the oral presentations in selecting the overall winner.


    PhD student S.M. Ali Tasalloti

  3. CGSE Researcher Dr Shanyong Wang Awarded Future Fellowship

    Dr Shanyong Wang won a successful bid for a Future Fellowship with a total value of $761,579 over 4 years.

    This project aims to investigate the fundamentals of fracture-controlled compensation grouting in various types of soil, so as to optimise the compensation efficiency and to minimise the risk of collapse of nearby structures. This will result in the minimisation of ground movements induced by underground excavations, which pose a major threat to existing infrastructure and communities worldwide. Small-scale laboratory experiments, centrifuge tests and numerical analyses will be conducted to develop an effective and economical grouting method that will provide a valuable design tool for engineers.

    Link to ARC Funding Announcement

  4. ARC Funding Awarded to CGSE Researchers

    CGSE researchers Shazzad Hossain, Mark Cassidy and Yuxia Hu were awarded an ARC Linkage Project Grant for their project “Investigation of alternative footing shapes to mitigate instabilities during installation of offshore drilling platforms”.

    CGSE, through COFS, will partner with three researchers, Dr Jonghwa Won, Dr Jong-Sik Park and Dr Seong-Jong Kim, from the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. (DSME), Korea. They will actively participate and contribute to the project.

    Footings for mobile drilling (jack-up) rigs exhibit significant failure rate in the offshore oil and gas industry, costing $5~50 million per incident. The project will develop new spudcan shapes that are better suited to eliminate risk of failure during the installation of jack-ups in emerging oil and gas frontiers of Australia and around the world. Innovation through physical and numerical modelling will ensure world leading training for 1 Postdoctoral Fellow and 2 PhD students.

    The research will foster the advancement of unlocking of Australia’s stranded oil and gas reserves, particularly as the industry moves towards more complex seabed conditions.

    Jonghwa Won, Youngho Kim, Shazzad Hossain, Stefanus Safinus, Joonmo Lee at Daewoo shipyard













    Picture: Jonghwa Won, Youngho Kim, Shazzad Hossain, Stefanus Safinus, Joonmo Lee at Daewoo shipyard

  5. Hassan Sabetamal wins AGS NSW Research Award

    Mr Hassan Sabetamal, a PhD student in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, has won the prestigious Australian Geomechanics Society NSW Research Award for research in Geotechnical Engineering or Engineering Geology.

    This award recognises novelty, originality, and industry relevance and was given for his work on “Finite Element Algorithms for Dynamic Analysis of Geotechnical Problems”.

    This research describes new computational algorithms for the analysis and design of a wide range of energy and transport infrastructure, such as building foundations, bridge foundations, offshore oil and gas facilities, retaining walls, slopes and tunnels, which are subject to dynamic loads. These types of loads occur frequently in practice, particularly under earthquake conditions, and are difficult to model using conventional techniques. Mr Sabetamal, who is supervised by Dr Majid Nazem, Prof Scott Sloan and Prof John Carter, has also done cutting-edge work on the modelling of contact mechanics, which describes the complex behaviour that occurs at soil-structure interfaces.

  6. Future Fellowship for Andrei Lyamin

    Professor Andrei Lyamin has been awarded $766,856 for an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship entitled ‘Variational Multiscale Modelling of Granular Materials’.

    Granular materials play an important role in a wide range of problems related to physical infrastructure. These include landslides and similar catastrophic events which can result in a loss of life and major property damage. This project will develop new methods for improved simulation of granular flows to allow the formulation of efficient risk mitigation strategies. Application of the new methods to assess risk will lead to more cost-effective designs of civil infrastructure in risk prone areas, as well as better safety outcomes.

    Professor Lyamin is a Chief Investigator in the Centre and is based at the Newcastle Node.


  7. Prestigious Fellowship for Mark Cassidy

    Laureate Professor Mark Cassidy.Professor Mark Cassidy, Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, has been awarded a prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowship from the ARC. It is one of only 17 Laureate Fellowships awarded in 2013, and he is the only recipient based in Western Australia. Professor Cassidy is a leading researcher whose work has helped make offshore oil and gas platforms safer and more stable. This brings the number of Laureate Fellows in the Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science & Engineering to two, with Laureate Professor Scott Sloan being the other.

    Mark’s Fellowship – worth more than $3 million – is for the project ‘New Frontiers in Offshore Geotechnics: Securing Australia’s Energy Future’. The inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow is also the Director of the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at UWA and in 2011 was appointed as a member of the ARC College of Experts for Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics. Mark made the following comments: “Offshore gas lies at the heart of Australia’s prosperity with $120 billion of infrastructure under construction. But the future of offshore gas requires new technology to safely build offshore foundations in our weak and problematic soils. This project will provide engineers with science-based tools to unlock the natural gas stranded in our deep oceans.”

    Mark’s research interests are in offshore geotechnics and engineering, predominantly developing wave-structure-soil interaction models for the analysis of oil and gas platforms, mobile drilling rigs and pipelines. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and has received numerous other distinctions including being named the Prime Minister’s Malcolm McIntosh Australian Physical Scientist of the Year and winning the WA Premier’s Early Career Achievement Award for excellence in science education, research and achievement. The ARC’s Laureate Fellowship scheme supports excellence in research at Australian universities by attracting world-class researchers and research leaders to key positions. Further information and a full list of awardees can be found here.