Full-scale and centrifuge techniques to investigate  practical problems

Our work is funded by industry, EPRSC and EU funding

Physical modelling, particle scale studies and numerical optimisation

The Sheffield Geotechnical Engineering Research Group comprises five academics with a strong focus on physical modelling, particle scale studies and application of numerical optimisation in geotechnical engineering.

We employ both laboratory, full-scale and centrifuge techniques to investigate a range of practical problems including the behaviour of offshore and thermal piles, masonry arch bridges, pile jetting, reinforced soils, geochemical hazards, and blast effects. Our particle scale studies focus on debris flows, transport in high energy flows, internal erosion, soil/geogrid interaction, and physics engine techniques. Our numerical work has resulted in the development of the original Discontinuity Layout Optimisation procedure, and is researching the back analysis of experimental data and optimal design. We employ a range of specialist facilities including a 4m diameter 50g-ton geotechnical beam centrifuge, educational mini-centrifuge, transparent soil modelling and specialist imaging tools, and a unique explosive and hazards testing laboratory.
Our centrifuge forms the core facility of the Centre for Energy & Infrastructure Ground Research which provides a focus for the broad themes of infrastructure resilience and climate/energy geotechnics. Our work is funded by industry, EPRSC and EU funding, and our outputs have contributed to industry guidance and resulted in the commercial software LimitState:GEO, now used across the world by contractors, consultants and universities.

Group Members

Researchers who specialise in Geotechnical Engineering. Click on individual profiles to explore their work futher:


Dr Colin Smith
Head of Research Group


Dr Jonathan Black
Senior Lecturer


Dr Elisabeth Bowman
Senior Lecturer


Dr Sam Clarke
Senior Lecturer


Dr Paul Shepley

Andy Tyas

Prof Andy Tyas

DSTL/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Blast Protection Engineering

Featured Projects

An EPSRC collaboration between Imperial College London and the University of Sheffield - SEEPAGE INDUCED GEOTECHNICAL INSTABILITY

This research will exploit recent developments in modelling and imaging technologies to improve understanding of the mechanisms that underlie deformations and failures caused by seepage induced soil instability. This research will improve understanding of internal instability by studying the fundamental particle scale mechanisms involved.

Find out more

An Investigation On The Collisional Behaviour Of Granular Flows

Special interests in the dynamic of granular flows have broadly grown in the last decades. Not only have these flows encompassed applications in chemistry and industrial technology but have been also applied to the fields of natural sciences and civil engineering. Although variety of new methods and theories are currently in use, new conceptual and physical tools to exhaustively approach this type of flows are required. This project aims to provide understanding on the internal behaviour of simple dry granular flows and geophysical-like flows in a later stage. Particular emphasis is given to the mechanics and mobility of debris flows from a collisional point of view. The final goal is to provide insights useful to predict their hazard and to optimize the strategy of defence.

Discover more about this project

Behaviour of clayey soils overlying cavities

The appearance of many sinkholes has become a hazard for their instantaneous development and for the damages they can produce to infrastructure. The term sinkhole indicates a location in which the ground is sinking in cavities and this process is mainly caused by water penetration into the ground. Water causes dissolution of the soluble rocks of the bedrock resulting in the creation of a void and the consequent collapse of the overlying soil. Despite the increasing interest on this phenomenon, rarely the geotechnical aspects of the event are studied especially in relation to the characteristics of the soil that stands on a cavity.

Find out more

Affilated PhD Students


Mrs Muna Alfergani


Mr Steven Bayton


Mr Qi Dang


Mr Tawfeg Elmrom


Miss Giulia Forlati