The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS)
An ARC Special Research Centre
The vast majority of Australia's hydrocarbon resources lie beneath the oceans, requiring sophisticated engineering design and construction to develop them. One of the greatest challenges in this respect is the engineering of foundation systems for structures which dwarf onshore buildings. Around Australia, this challenge is exacerbated by the poor soil conditions - carbonate silts and sands that are highly compressible and variably cemented. Already these problem soils have necessitated costly remedial measures, such as the deep under- reamed bell foundations of the North Rankin 'A' platform on the North-West Shelf. The objective of the Centre is to develop quantitative links between the micro-mechanics and engineering response of carbonate soils, and the resulting behaviour of foundation systems, providing the fundamental understanding for safe and economic design of future offshore facilities.
The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems builds on one of the most active geotechnical research groups in Australia, in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Western Australia. The Geomechanics Group's strong research track record has attracted extensive Australian Research Council funding and industry support, with particular emphasis on offshore applications. It has extensive experimental facilities, notably the fixed beam and drum centrifuges for physical modelling, and world-class laboratory testing equipment.
The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems includes collaboration with researchers at The University of Sydney, who have complementary facilities and analytical expertise. The programme of research on offshore foundations across the two universities, and the facilities that are available, makes the Centre a natural focus for offshore research in Australia, strengthening interaction with industry.
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