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Modelling of seabed ploughing


The First Project Meeting

First Project Meeting was held on the 26/27th January 2015 at Dundee University.

Steering Project Group Meeting

The first steering group project meeting took place on the 24th March 2015 at SMD's office in Newcastle. The project partners provided invaluable input into the direction of the project and raised a number of questions that will help shape the outcomes of the research over the next three years. The meeting concluded with a tour of SMD's manufacturing facilities.


    • Durham University
    • University of Dundee
    • Cathie Associates
    • Saipem Limited
    • SMD Limited

3D MpM

Elastic beam full encastre on both sides and loaded at the centre

Geometric non-linearity implemented (11/6/15)

The research team at Durham University have now implemented a 2D/3D geometrically non-linear material point method (MPM) code based on an updated Lagrangian description of motion. The code is taking advantage of several open source libraries such as PetSc, Boost and MOAB along with Salome and Paraview acting as pre- and post-processers to setup and visualise the results, respectively. The code is currently being validated against several finite deformation benkmarking problems and the parent finite-element code. The next step is to look at efficient ways to represent the plough within the numerical framework.

Slice of a simple 3D ploughing simulation

University of Dundee - EPSRC Seabed Ploughing Project Update – August 2015

The University of Dundee is supporting Durham University with verification and calibration data for the meshless numerical analysis software. Work to upgrade the 1g facilities for physical modelling of seabed ploughing at the University of Dundee has now been completed, and tests to provide calibration data are now underway. This involves detailed testing of a variety of control geometries that will be used for comparison with the meshless analysis results in the first instance, along with a wide range of laboratory tests to obtain accurate soil properties for using in the numerical modelling. Novel techniques include the use of 3D soil surface scanning. In the coming months, work will focus on investigating a range of industry-led issues related to seabed ploughing, as well as upgrading the University of Dundee’s facilities for modelling ploughing using the 6m geotechnical beam centrifuge to allow prototype verification of the numerical analysis.

Scaled ploughing experiment and 3D scanned model

4th Group Project Meeting - hosted at Cathie Associates, Newcastle - September 2015

The 4th group project meeting was held at Cathie Associates' offices in Newcastle and brought together the teams from the University of Dundee and Durham University to discuss achievements, progress and projections on the experimental and numerical work of the project.

Charles Augarde (Durham University) and Mike Brown (University of Dundee) presented on challenges faced in the numerical modelling aspects of the seabed ploughing project and on lab-based physical testing of soils, respectively, to Cathie Associates teams situated in Newcastle, France and Brussels.

New ploughing centrifuge strong-box at the Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility, University of Dundee - December 2015

A newly manufactured 1.6m long ploughing centrifuge strong-box has been installed and proof tested at the Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility in the School of Science and Engineering, University of Dundee. This enhances the capability of the Geotechnical Research Group to carry out centrifuge modelling of large displacement activities such as seabed ploughing using the University’s 3m radius beam centrifuge. Capable of withstanding 50g, the strong-box will be coupled with a new centrifuge actuation system able to apply displacements of over 1m and forces of up to 0.5 tonnes.

Long ploughing centrifuge strong-box (Dundee University Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility)

3rd Steering Group Meeting - hosted at Cathie Associates, Newcastle - April 2016

The third steering group meeting was held at Cathie Associates' offices Newcastle. Representative from Cathie Associates, SMD, SAIPEM, Dundee and Durham Universities were present at the meeting.