Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Geotechnical Science and Engineering

Mr Pan Hu


  • Professor Mark Cassidy
  • Assistant Professor Dong Wang

Research Interests

  • Large deformation finite element analysis
  • Prediction of spudcan penetration in multilayered soils
  • Physical modelling

Research Topic

Numerical analysis on spudcan foundations with large penetration into multilayered soils

Research Abstract

With the increasing energy demand and the exhaustion of near shore fields,offshore oil and gas exploration is expanding into deeper, untested environments with more complex seabed soil conditions.Layered soil profiles are hazardous to the installation of offshore foundations in frontier oil and gas provinces, hampering the safe operation of drilling rigs and platforms.

The majority of offshore operations in water depths up to 120 m are performed from self-elevating mobile units, which are generally referred to as ‘jack-up’ rigs. This is mainly due to their proven flexibility and cost-effectiveness in field development and drilling operation in the offshore industry.

When a jack-up foundation is installed on seabeds consisting of multilayered soils, potential for ‘punch-through’ failure exists. This happens due to an abrupt reduction in bearing resistance of foundation in an uncontrolled manner. This can lead to a sudden large penetration that can cause temporary decommissioning and even toppling of the unit.

This research will address this problem with the aim of developing a practical design method for the jack-up industry to assess potential punch-through hazards. The emphasis is placed on trying to overcome the current lack of a systematic basis for assessing the response on foundations penetrating through multilayered soils and providing a sound understanding of the failure mechanism and models of behaviour. In addition, eliminating existing ad hoc analysis procedures for layered soils will be of great benefit to the offshore industry.

Why my research is important

Jack-ups holds a strategic position in field exploration and development. They are used extensively in the waters off the coasts.The new numerical models and design guidelines will allow rigs and platforms to operate more safely and efficiently in the challenging seabed conditions. Successful completion of the project will provide a powerful new numerical tool and design guidelines for the installation of foundations into multilayered soils. The outcome of this research will allow safer and more efficient extraction of oil and gas in offshore waters and securing energy supplies for sustained growth of the economy.


  • China Scholarship Council
  • Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems