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21st century - geotechnical engineering is undergoing a revolution, embracing the strength of computer-based site characterisation, investigation and performance analysis methods. Site-specific computer simulations elucidate the pros and cons of long-standing empirically established engineering solutions and finally permit their rigorous scientific analysis. New algorithms and hardware enable the simulation of complex interacting subsurface processes even in intricate structures. In concert with much improved measurement, imaging, modelling and visualisation tools, “multiphysics” simulation software greatly increase the ability of engineers to get accurate answers to What-If? engineering design questions.
This subject provides the essential foundations for an informed, successful and effective application of process simulation software that now gets routinely applied in geotechnical engineering projects, site investigation, and performance and risk assessment of engineering measures.
The subject covers essentials like the formulation of conceptual models for subsurface (heat flow, fluid flow, geomechanics), numeric modelling techniques, development, programming and incorporation of constitutive relationships, construction and parameterisation of site-specific models, experimental design of simulations (numeric experiments), and visualisation and analysis of results.
Theoretical foundations are applied in hands-on model building – configuration – calibration - simulation – analysis exercises conducted with freely available and commercial software tools, including proprietary ones used by industry.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- ILO 1 – Apply computational analysis to a geotechnical engineering problem, including development of the model concept and constitutive relationships, the construction, parameterisation, and calibration of a site-specific model, simulation and sensitivity analysis;
- ILO2 – Select and apply suitable finite element (FEM) and finite volume (FVM) formulations to discretise governing equations and site-specific models;
- ILO3 – Work with and create algorithmic representations of the typical constitutive relationships in geotechnical engineering and understand how linear, quasi-linear and non-linear relationships are handled and how errors are estimated;
- ILO4 – Process simulation results, visualise and analyse them to validate the model, and to derive answers to central geotechnical engineering questions presenting outcomes to peers;
- ILO5 – Evaluate risks, pitfalls and limitations of numeric analysis, as is necessary to apply these tools responsibly.
- Ability to use scientific computation as a means to investigate natural systems.
- Harness simulation-based engineering science (SBES), as a research tool.
- Employ FEM / FVM methods to investigate physical processes and systems, understanding the complementary role of simulations and physical experiments.
- Generate visuals and technical reports.
- Problem-solving skills: the ability to engage with unfamiliar problems and identify relevant solution strategies;
- Time-management skills: the ability to meet regular deadlines while balancing competing tasks;
- Computer skills: the ability to use mathematical computing packages.
- Presentation skills: ability to present the outcomes of simulations studies to peers.
Last updated: 12 November 2022