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Postgraduate research project

Offshore renewable energy (ORE) foundations on rock seabeds: advancing design through analogue testing and modelling

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This project aims to advance the understanding and design of foundation systems on rock seabeds, to support the necessary expansion of offshore renewables energy (ORE), such as wind turbines or wave energy converters. The project will develop new analysis techniques, inspired by new approaches for experimental testing of small-scale foundation models installed in rock material.

ORE devices are often located in energetic sites (e.g. Celtic Sea), where sediments have been washed away, leaving a bare rocky seabed. The design of ORE devices' foundations or anchors (e.g. drilled piles) is very conservative and costly because of a lack of:

  • understanding of rock-foundation interactions
  • design guidance

Innovation and new design guidance are needed to drive foundation cost down, and must be supported by experimental evidence. However, field testing of large scale foundations is extremely expensive. Smaller scale lab testing is limited to intact rock samples, with no geological features (e.g. discontinuities). So advanced modelling is needed at an intermediate scale.

We propose to develop a process to create artificial rock samples (rock analogues), which will mimic the main geological features of rock masses encountered in the field. This will enable the testing of small scale foundations in a repeatable/reliable way.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Dr Benjamin Cerfontaine (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Ismael Himar Falcon-Suarez (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Professor Susan Gourvenec (University of Southampton)