Offshore Geotechnics

This area of research is concerned with the development of designs for offshore structures, such as those used for oil and gas exploration and production, or for offshore renewable energy developments. The work is principally concerned with the foundations, but also requires knowledge of the behaviour of the structure and of the wind and wave forces that act on it. The research concentrates particularly on the behaviour of shallow foundations (spudcans, caissons, gravity bases), deep foundations (monopiles, helical piles), and also offshore pipelines. Researchers in the group currently leading this work are Prof. Guy Houlsby, Prof. Chris Martin and Prof. Byron Byrne.

Current Research

We are interested in a wide range of problems, and current interests are often determined by availability of funding, industry involvement and student interest. The following are areas in which we are currently working:

1. Offshore renewable energy

- Application of suction foundations to offshore wind turbines
- Effect of cyclic loading on monopile response for offshore wind turbines
- Condition monitoring of full scale offshore wind turbines
- Interpretation of measurements from offshore wind turbine foundations
- Application of novel foundation design options to offshore wind turbines

2. General foundation design problems

- Behaviour of suction installed foundations
- Theoretical Analysis of Bearing Capacity
- Application of FELA to offshore foundation problems
- Investigation of the response of shallow foundations to 6DOF loading
- Application of numerical approaches to offshore foundation problems
- Application of perforated foundations to offshore foundation design
- Application of yield surface approaches to the design of shallow foundations

3. Offshore pipeline design

- Upheaval buckling and flotation of buried offshore pipelines
- Lateral buckling of surface pipelines
- Dynamic embedment of pipelines at the touchdown zone for catenary risers
- Development of macro-element models for pipeline soil interaction models

Recent Research

The results of our recent research can be explored from our list of publications. For copies please contact Prof. Byron Byrne.

Consultancy and Contract Research

The academic staff at Oxford have carried out a wide range of consultancy and contract research services in offshore geotechnics, ranging from laboratory studies through to state of the art reports. Recent work (in the last year) has been for Fugro (Byrne: laboratory testing), SAFEBUCK JIP (Martin: development of pipeline plasticity macro-element model), SAFEBUCK JIP (Byrne: laboratory testing) and Cathie Associates (Byrne/Houlsby: state of the art report on suction caisson foundations for offshore wind turbines). The typical route to consultancy services is through Gurinder Punn at Oxford University Consulting.