We strive to make key advances in areas such as field instrumentation, residual strength measurements, local strain measurement of soil samples, direct soil suction measurements, advanced numerical modelling procedures, constitutive models and hollow cylinder soil testing techniques

One of five research sections based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The Geotechnics group currently has around 20 full-time researchers and some of the best geotechnical laboratory and computing facilities in the world, enabling us to continue to make key advances in areas such as field instrumentation, residual strength measurements, local strain measurement of soil samples, direct soil suction measurements, advanced numerical modelling procedures, constitutive models and hollow cylinder soil testing techniques.

There is a long tradition of excellence in research in the Geotechnics group at Imperial College, as detailed on our history page, which includes a list of the staff members that have delivered the Rankine Lecture. This tradition continues, and an impression of our current research activities is given by listing the research interests of our academic staff, and recent research grants awarded. The quality and innovative nature of our research continues to receive international recognition, as evidenced by the research papers that have won prizes and the prestige lectures our staff are invited to deliver. All of these are available in the drop-down menus below.

More detailed information on our current research activity can be obtained by reference to either the academic staff or research staff and research student pages (see our People page). A good impression of recent research is given by reviewing the abstracts of the recently completed PhDs (below). 

The August 2015 Bulletin of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering includes a research highlight that gives an overview of our current research and it can be accessed here.

The August 2015 Bulletin of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering includes an article which gives an overview of our current research. You can access the research highlight article here.

Academic and research staff research interests

Geotechnics Academic and Teaching Staff A-Z

 Antonio Carrero

Antonio Carraro

Senior Lecturer in Experimental Geotechnics, PhD, MSc, BSc
Fundamental soil mechanics; Advanced laboratory testing of soils; Sustainable geomaterials; Intermediate soils; Offshore sediments.
 Ghail, Richard

Richard Ghail

Lecturer in Engineering Geology, PhD
Tectonic Geomorphology London Basin Structure Permafrost fissuring of over-consolidated clays.
 Bo Han

Bo Han

Teaching Fellow, PhD
Numerical assessment of the seismic performance of geotechnical structures by using hydro-mechanical coupled approach; Fully coupled numerical simulation of wave propagation; Multiple-directional site response analysis  
 Jardine, Richard

Richard Jardine

Professor of Geomechanics; College Consul for Engineering and the Business School, FREng, MSc, DIC, PhD, FICE, FCGI
Soil Mechanics; Constitutive behaviour; Laboratory & Field experiments; Instrumentation; Geotechnical design; Soft Ground engineering; Deep Foundations; Offshore Geotechnics; Geohazards; Cold Region Geotechnics.
 Stavroula Kontoe

Stavroula Kontoe

Senior Lecturer in Soil Mechanics, MSc, DIC, PhD, CEng, MICE
Site response; Dynamic behaviour of soils and earth structures. 
 James Lawrence

James Lawrence

Senior Lecturer in Geotechnics
Upper Cretaceous carbonates (Chalk), geological disposal of radioactive waste, geomechanics, structural geology, petroleum reservoir characterisation, modelling slope instability, coastal recession related to the impact of climate change and weathering of rock.  
 Catherine O'Sullivan

Catherine O'Sullivan

Reader in Particulate Soil Mechanics, PhD, MIEI
Discrete element modelling; Particulate soil mechanics; Micro-computed tomography; Internal erosion; Stress wave propagation; Cyclic soil response; Validation of discrete element models.
 Dave Potts

Dave Potts 

GCG Professor of Analytical Soil Mechanics, PhD, FREng, CEng, FICE
Application of FEM to geotechnical problems; Geotechnical numerical analysis; Constitutive modelling; Soil-stru cture interaction.
 Tom Shire

Tom Shire 

Teaching Fellow, PhD
Particulate soil mechanics; Discrete element modelling; Granular Filters; Internal Erosion. 
 Jamie Standing

Jamie Standing

Reader in GeotechnicsPhD, CEng, MICE
Soil-structure interaction; Tunnelling and deep excavations; Field monitoring; Piles; Model testing; Partly saturated soils and residual soils. 
 David Taborda

David Taborda

Lecturer in Geotechnics,  DIC, PhD 
Computational geomechanics; Constitutive modelling of soils; Soil dynamics; Cyclic soil behaviour; Soil-Structure interaction; Geothermal energy systems; Thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of soils; Optimisation algorithms.
 Katerina Tsiampousi

Katerina Tsiampousi

Lecturer in Geotechnics PhD
THM modelling of geo-materials; behaviour of partially saturated media in deep nuclear repositories; reliability and risk of geotechnical structures (excavations, tunnels, slopes, foundations); behaviour of railway embankments under seasonal changes in suction.
 Lidija Zdravkovic

Lidija Zdravkovic

Professor of Computational Geomechanics, DIC, PhD 
Development and application of FEM in geotechnical engineering; Constitutive modelling; Unsaturated soils; THM modelling of geomaterials; Soil-structure interaction; Laboratory testing of soils.
Geotechnics Academics A-Z
Geotechnics Academics A-Z

Geotechnics Research Staff A-Z

 Khalid Alhaj Abdalla

Khalid Alhaj Abdalla

The impact of creep in strength and stiffness on sample from San Francisco using a new advanced triaxial creep apparatus in the Imperial College Geotechnics Laboratory
Email Khalid
 Matteo Ciantia

Matteo Ciantia

Junior Research Fellow, PhD
Application of the discrete element method (DEM) to industrially relevant boundary value problems by using high performance computing
Email Matteo
 Wenjie Cui

Wenjie Cui

ICFEP Research Associate
Numerical investigation of large-scale ground source energy systems and their interaction with other nearby systems or with existing structures
Email Wenjie
Geotechnics Research Staff A-Z
Geotechnics Academics A-Z

An overview of our research outputs and measures of esteem

Award Winning Research Papers and Research Awards

2013 Outstanding Paper International Journal of Geo-Engineering Case Histories

Burland, J.B., Jamiolkowski, M.B., Viggiani, C. (2012) Leaning Tower of Pisa: Behaviour after Stabilization Operation International Journal of Geoengineering Case Histories Vol. 1, No. 3, Paper # IJGCH_1_3_2

2012 Geotechnical Research Medal

Puzrin, A.M, Burland, J.B., Standing, J. R. (2012)  Simple approach to predicting ground displacements caused by tunnelling in undrained anisotropic elastic soil Géotechnique 62(4), 341 –352

2012 BGA Medal

Potts D. M. & Zdravkovic L. (2012), Accounting for partial material factors in numerical analysis  Geotechnique 62 (12): 1053-1065.

2010 Manby Prize

S. Nishimura, C. J. Martin, R. J. Jardine and C. H. Fenton (2009)  A new approach for assessing geothermal response to climate change in permafrost regions Geotechnique 59(12): 213-227

2010 BGA Medal

Potts, V. J. and  Zdravkovic, L. (2010)  Finite-element study of arching behaviour in reinforced fills Proc. ICE - Ground Improvement 163, Issue GI4, 217–229

2008  BGA medal

Kontoe S, Zdravkovic L, Potts DM, Menkiti C.O. (2008)  Case study on seismic tunnel response, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 2008, Vol:45, Pages:1743-1764.

2008 ICE Geotechnical Research Medal

Hight, D.W., Gasparre, A., Nishimura, S., Anh-Minh, N., Jardine, R.J. & Coop, M.R. (2007) Characteristics of the London clay from the Terminal 5 site at Heathrow Airport. Symposium in Print on Stiff Sedimentary Clays Geotechnique, 57(2), pp 3-18.

2008 ICE Bill Curtin Medal for innovation

Bourne-Webb P.J., Potts D.M. & Rowbottom D.(2007) Plastic bending of steel sheet piles,  Geotechnical Engineering 160, Issue GE3, 2007, 129-140.

2008 IACMAG Outstanding Contributions Award

Awarded to Prof. David Potts for contributions throughout his career by the Int. Assoc. for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics.

Funded Research Projects

EPSRC Grants

(2015-2016) Effect of time on the evolution of soil behaviour: new advanced triaxial creep cell experimentsW.W. Sim (PI)

(2010-2014) Assessing ground interaction effects and potential damage on existing tunnels before and after new excavation works JR Standing (PI), J. Burland (CI), D.M. Potts (CI), R. Vollum (CI) Link to project website.

(2009-2013)  Micromechanics of seismic wave propagation in granular materials C. O'Sullivan (PI), P. Kelly (CI)

(2007-2010)   The Properties and Structure of British Stiff Clays and Mudrocks R. Jardine (PI), C. Fenton (CI), M. Coop

(2006-2011)  Platform Grant for Laboratory Soil Mechanics Research R. Jardine (PI), D.M. Potts (CI), M. Coop

(2006-2009) Using blinding as struts in cut and cover excavations R. Vollum (PI), B. Izzuddin (CI), D.M. Potts (CI)

Invited Prestige Lectures

2016 British Geotechnical Association Rankine Lecture, London

Prof. Richard Jardine

2015 British Geotechnical Association Géotechnique Lecture, London

Dr. Catherine O'Sullivan

2014 17th Sowers Lecture, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Prof. Richard Jardine

2013 British Geotechnical Association Géotechnique Lecture, London

Prof. Lidija Zdravkovic

2013 Bishop Lecture - International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Paris

Prof. Richard Jardine

2012 The Lymon C. Reese Distinguished Lecture at University of Texas, Austin

Prof. John Burland

2012 The Jennings Memorial Lecture tour, South Africa

Prof. John Burland

2012 Zeevarat Lecture, Mexico

Prof. David Potts 2011

28th Manuel Rocha Lecture, Lisbon, 2011

Prof. John Burland

2010 Liddiard Lecture of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining

Prof. John Burland

2009 British Geotechnical Association Géotechnique Lecture, London

Dr. Jamie Standing

2008 7th Lovell Lecture, USA

Prof. David Potts

2008 Sixth Athenian Geotechnical Lecture, Athens

Prof. John Burland

Recorded lectures

Members of staff in the section are often invited to deliver invited lectures, some of which are recorded for subsequent broadcasting.  Links to these lectures are given here:


Expedition Workshed have recorded Prof. Burland giving an Introduction to Soil Mechanics.

On 19th February Prof. Burland spoke at a BGA Young Career Group Meeting: The title was "Good practice for young geo-engineers: Boots, computers and engineering judgement." The recording is available here.


On 13th November Prof. Lidija Zdravkovic delivered the BGA  Geotechnique Lecture Dr Lidija Zdravkovic. The title was: Geotechnical numerical analysis: a road map.  The recording is available here.

Spin out company

Geotechnical Observations
A company formed by Professor Vaughan and Doctors Dineen and Ridley, previous members of the academic staff here, specialising in the measurement and monitoring of soil suctions using the Imperial College Suction Probe.

Completed PhD Research

Geotechnics 2010-2017

NameTitle and supervisor
Summersgill, Freya Numerical modelling of stiff clay cut slopes with nonlocal strain regularisation
Supervised by: Kontoe, S.Potts, D.M.
Wan, Siu Pong Field investigation on effect of tunnelling in London Clay
Supervised by: Standing, J.R.Burland, J.B.Potts, D.M.
Han, Bo Hydro-mechanical coupling in numerical analysis of geotechnical structures under multi-directional seismic loading
Supervised by: Zdravkovic, L.Kontoe, S.
Lessi Cheimariou, Angeliki Seismic engineering: consistent representation of ground motion
Supervised by: Kontoe, S.Stafford, P.


NameTitle and supervisor
Alhaj Abdalla, Khalid M.A. Mechanical response of two plastic clay soils from Sudan
Supervised by: Standing, J.R.
Avgerinos, Vasilis Numerical Investigation of tunnelling beneath existing tunnels
Supervised by: Potts, D.M.Standing, J.R.
Huang, Xin Exploring critical-state behaviour using DEM
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C.Kwook, F. (University of Hong Kong)
Newman, Tim Confined space hypoxia in the Thames Tideway tunnel
Supervised by: Ghail, R.CStanding, J.R.
Ní Bhreasail, Aine An investigation of the micromechanical response of soil to one dimensional compression in varied thermal conditions.
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C.Fenton, C.H., Lee, P.D. 
O'Donovan, John Micromechanics of Wave Propagation through Granular Material.
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C. 
Pelecanos, Loizos Seismic performance, analysis and design of earthfill dams
Supervised by: Kontoe, S.O'Sullivan, C. 
Shire, Thomas Micromechanical study of suffusion in soils
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C., Van Wachem, B.
Yu, Jessica Assessing ground interaction effects and potential damage on existing tunnels before and after new excavation wor
Supervised by:  Standing, J.R.Vollum, R.Potts, D.M.Burland, J.B.
Kimpritis, Thomas The control of column diameter and strength in Jet Grouting processes and the influence of ground conditions (MPhil)
Supervised by: Standing, J.R.


NameTitle and supervisor
Pedro, António M. G. Geotechnical investigation of Ivens shaft in Lisbon
Supervised by: Zdravkovic, L.
Rimoy, Siya, P. Ageing and axial cyclic loading studies of displacement piles in sands
Supervised by: Jardine, R.


NameTitle and supervisor
Brosse, A Study of the anisotropy of three British mudrocks using a hollow cylinder apparatus.
Supervised by: Jardine, R.
Hosseini Kamal, R Experimental study of the geotechnical properties of U.K mudrocks.
Supervised by: Coop, M. Jardine, R.
Shen, C.-K A micromechanical investigation of drained simple shear tests on dense sand using discrete element simulations
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C.Jardine, R.


NameTitle and supervisor
Wilkinson, Stephen The Microstructure of UK Mudrocks
Supervised by: Fenton, C., Coop, M.
Fonseca, J The evolution of morphology and fabric of a sand during shearing
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C., Coop, M. 
Giannopoulos, K  Numerical analysis of the re-use of piled roughed foundations.
Supervised by: Zdravkovic, L.Potts, D.M.
Taborda, D  Development of constitutive models for application in soil dynamics.
Supervised by: Zdravkovic, L.Kontoe, S.
Tsiampousi, A  Numerical analysis of slopes in unsaturated soils.
Supervised by: Zdravkovic, L.Potts, D.M.


NameTitle and supervisor
Barreto Gonzalez, Daniel Numerical and experimental investigation into the behaviour of granular materials under generalised stress states
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C.Zdravkovic, L.
Arango Gaviria, Maria Cristina Ground-Motion Prediction for Subduction-Zone Earthquakes: Insights from South and Central American data
Supervised by: Bommer, J., Strasser, Fleur
Papaspiliou, Myrto-Ioanna On the Incorporation of Site Response in Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analyses
Supervised by: Kontoe, S., Bommer, J.
Cavarretta, Ignazio The influence of particles characteristics on the engineering behaviour of granular materials
Supervised by: Coop, M., O'Sullivan, C.
Cheung, L.-Y.G. Micromechanics of sand production in oil wells
Supervised by: O'Sullivan, C., Coop, M. 
 Schuetz, R Numerical modelling of shotcrete for tunnelling
Supervised by: Potts, D.M.Zdravkovic, L.
 Shipton, B The Mechanics of transitional soils
Supervised by: Coop, M.

Geotechnics 2008-2009


NameTitle and supervisor
Abela, J Blinding struts in cut & cover excavations
Supervised by: Professor D. Potts/Dr R. Vollum/Professor B. A. Izzuddin
Aldama Bustos, G An exploratory study of parameter sensitivity, representation of results and extensions of PSHA: Case Study - United Arab Emirates
Supervised by: Professor J. Bommer
 Barreto Gonzalez, D Numerical and experimental investigation into the behaviour of granular materials under generalised stress states.
Supervised by: Dr C. O'Sullivan/Dr L. Zdravkovic
Cavarretta, I The Influence of Particle Characteristics on the Engineering Behaviour of Granular Materials
Supervised by: Professor M. Coop; Dr C. O'Sullivan
Zolghadr Zadeh Jahromi, H Nonlinear Soil-Structure Interaction 
Supervised by: Professor B. A. Izzuddin; Dr L. Zdravkovic


NameTitle and supervisor
Bodas Freitas, T M Numerical Modelling of the Time Dependent Behaviour of Clays
Supervised by: Professor D. Potts
Zabidi, H Studies of karst in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Supervised by: Dr M. de Freitas

Pre-2008 Information about completed PhD research prior to 2009 may be available from the section but is only available to registered members of the Department. Please contact Sue Feller.