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Numerical modelling of roots and fibres as soil reinforcement

School of Engineering

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Dr Stefanos Papanicolopulos , Dr K Hanley No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Edinburgh United Kingdom Civil Engineering Engineering Mathematics Geotechnical Engineering Mechanical Engineering Mechanics Solid Mechanics

About the Project


This project will use continuum and discrete numerical techniques to model how roots and geotextiles can increase the strength of soils at risk of geohazards such as landslides and debris flows.

Project background

Geohazards like landslides and debris flows can cause significant cost in human lives and economic loss. It is therefore necessary to understand how these hazards are initiated, and how mitigation measures can decrease their occurrence. It is known that plant and tree roots, as well as artificial geotextiles, can significantly increase the soil shear resistance and prevent its failure; a detailed quantitative understanding of the mechanisms involved is however still missing. In particular, only few works have considered the numerical modelling of the interaction between soil and root/fibre, and the mechanism through which this increases the soil strength.

Research questions

This project will develop a methodology for determining soil-root and soil-fibre interaction by addressing the following two principal questions:

  1. What is the appropriate numerical approach for modelling the interaction at the micromechanical level?
  2. How to upscale the detailed numerical results to predict the strengthening effect of a large number of roots/fibres?


Candidates must have a good background in civil engineering, computational solid mechanics, soil mechanics, granular physics, or particle technology.

Funding Notes

Funding available from the E4 Doctoral Training Partnership, for eligibility criteria.


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