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Setting up a Geotechnical Analysis

Setting Up a Geotechnical Analysis

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This is the first of two courses hosted on the NAFEMS learning hub on Geotechnical analysis. The first course focusses on the decision-making process when setting up a geotechnical numerical model. The second course covers how to add structural elements in soil-structure interaction problems appropriately. Both courses are software-neutral and are aimed at novice users of the software in both academia and industry.

The first course consists of 13 lectures structured in the normal sequence of setting up a geotechnical numerical model, from planning the analysis to reporting the results at the end.

The first six lectures focus on setting up the model geometry including rationalising the geometry, the 2D plane strain and axisymmetric assumptions, boundary conditions and mesh generation. This is followed by a self-test quiz with feedback provided on your answers. Another seven lectures then follow covering the input parameters that need to be provided including constitutive model selection and setting up the initial state and subsequent construction stages. We end with the important stages of validating the analysis results and presenting the input and output data in a report. These lectures are also followed by a self-test quiz.

All the lectures use videos with 3D graphics and a commentary by our tutor to illustrate many of the complex geometrical concepts that are explained in this course in an engaging way.

On completing this course you will be able to prepare geotechnical numerical analyses more confidently, avoiding many of the common errors of novice users. You will gain valuable skills in geotechnical numerical analysis – a method whose use in geotechnical design is growing rapidly.

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Course Contents



1. Analysis planning

10 minutes

2. Geometric simplification

11 minutes

3. Plane strain and axisymmetric assumptions

9 minutes

4. Locating boundaries

7 minutes

5. Fixities and axes of symmetry

5 minutes

6. Elements and meshing

6 minutes

Quiz 1: Half time quiz


7. Constitutive Model Selection

4 minutes

8. Initial stress

8 minutes

9. Construction methods

7 minutes

10. Analysis options

9 minutes

11. Analysis methods

5 minutes

12. Validation

3 minutes

13. Reporting

5 minutes

Quiz 2: Full time quiz





Course audience

  • This is a practical, introductory course to geotechnical numerical analysis intended for new and inexperienced users of such software both in industry and in academic study.
  • This course is not likely to be suitable for experienced users of geotechnical numerical analysis, nor for other fields of numerical analysis.

Course Author

The course author is Dr Andrew Lees. He is Founder of the geotechnical analysis consultancy Geofem Ltd and Global Application Technology Manager at Tensar, a Division of CMC. He has extensive experience of both the application and teaching of geotechnical numerical analysis

The COGAN Project

The COGAN project funded by the European Union's Lifelong Learning Programe aims to improve competency in geotechnical numerical analysis. Information on the COGAN project including a listing of all project partners is available at on the COGAN project webpage.

This project had two main deliverables.

  • The COGAN Competency Tracker which is an online database of around 500 competency statements describing what you need to know to perform geotechnical numerical analysis. This software will provide links to learning resources to help you gain competences and will also allow you to record achievement of competences. The COGAN Competency Tracker is available to NAFEMS members and can added to the Standard NAFEMS PSE Competency Tracker.
  • Two on-demand training modules.