FEIT Research Project Database

Geotechnical behaviour of ultra-soft soils: experimental and numerical modelling

Project Leader: Shiaohuey Chow
Staff: Assoc Prof Mahdi Disfani
Primary Contact: Shiaohuey Chow (shiaohuey.chow@unimelb.edu.au)
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering

Supervision team

Dr Shiao Huey Chow, Assoc Prof Mahdi Disfani


Ultra-soft soils are dominant in all major cities and urban developments worldwide.The highly compressible soft soils pose significant challenges to geotechnical design and construction of surface and subsurface infrastructure. This project aims to accurately predict the engineering behaviours of ultra-soft soils in Australia’s largest urban development precinct, ie, the Fishermans Bend (FB) precinct. The FB precinct is located in one of the most geologically complex areas in Victoria. It is part of the Yarra Delta group formed at the mouth of the Yarra river. The complex geological profile of the FB princinct creates significant geotechnical challenges, particularly the near surface weak compressible soil, ie, Coode Island Silt .

This project aims to investigate the geotechnical behaviour of the ultra-soft soils using experimental and numerical modelling.

The project scopes include:

  • High quality sampling of the soft soils for advanced laboratory soil element testing and study of sampling effects on soft soils behaviour during the laboratory testing
  • Advanced geotechnical characterisation of the soft soils using in-situ and laboratory soil testing
  • Investigation of soft soils-geostructure interaction using physical and numerical modelling.

The project will produce new knowledge in soft soil behaviour and support the industry in addressing the significant challenge of producing reliable and cost-effective engineering design of infrastructures over these highly compressible and low strength soft soils. The project will involve collaboration with industry partners to ensure direct dissemination of research finding to practitioners.


  • Master of Engineering (Geotechnical) or (Civil); or closely related discipline
  • Meet all relevant criteria to gain entry to the University of Melbourne PhD program


  • High-quality journal publications.
  • Excellent communication skills in both spoken and written English.

To submit your interest, please email your:

  • Resume
  • Full academic transcripts
  • Details of any published papers
  • English test, eg, IELTS (if applicable)

to Shiaohuey Chow at shiaohuey.chow@unimelb.edu.au