An EPSRC collaboration between Imperial College London and the University of Sheffield

Civil engineering works often encounter water flowing through the ground. When considering their design, engineers seek to avoid cases where the buoyancy forces exerted by the seeping water are sufficient to reduce the effective stress in the soil to zero, resulting in heave failure or "quicksand".

Awareness is growing that seepage forces imparted on the particles can preferentially erode the smaller particles in sandy soils. There can be significant internal erosion of the soil under scenarios that are considered safe according to the classical continuum calculations used in engineering practice; this phenomenon is called internal instability.

This research will improve understanding of internal instability and thereby our knowledge of how to design and assess infrastructure safely, by studying the fundamental, particle scale mechanisms involved.

Funded by:

EPSRC (Grant No. EP/P010393/1

Academic team:

Dr Catherine O'Sullivan (PI - Imperial); Dr Elisabeth Bowman (PI - Sheffield); Dr. Tom Shire (Glasgow); Dr. Jonathan Black (Sheffield)

Research team:

Imperial: Dr. Adnan Suifan (Now moved to the University of Queensland),  Dr. Budi Zhao (Now moved to University College Dublin), Dr. Hanqiao Che.

Sheffield: Dr. Nicoletta Santivale





Project Updates:

  • On August 31 and September 1 2017 a project kick-off workshop took place at Imperial College London.  Selected presentations from the workshop are available at Seepage Workshop.
  • Prof. Catherine O'Sullivan presented findings from this project during her keynote lecture at DEM8: DEM Dams and Dikes
  • Prof. Catherine O'Sullivan presented findings from this project during a presentation to the Levee Safety Partnership, Amsterdam, Oct 2018

Research output:

  1. Artigaut et al. (2019) Influence of stress anisotropy on stress distributions in gap-graded soils 7th International Symposium on Deformation Characteristics of Geomaterials (IS-Glasgow 2019)
  2. Che et al. (2021) A novel CFD-DEM coarse-graining method based on the Voronoi tessellation Powder Technology
    Volume 384, May 2021, Pages 479-493
  3. Smith et al. (2020) CPL library — A minimal framework for coupled particle and continuum simulation  Computer Physics Communications Volume 250, May 2020, 107068
  4. Sufian et al. (2019) Application of Pore Network Models to Investigate Internal Erosion in Gap-Graded Soils June 18-21, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 27th Annual Meeting of the European Working Group on International Erosion EWG-IE
  5. Sufian et al. (2019) Ability of a pore network model to predict fluid flow and drag in saturated granular materials Computers and Geotechnics
  6. Sufian et al. (2020) Influence of Fabric on Stress Distribution in Gap-Graded Soil  Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering / Volume 147 Issue 5 - May 2021