Offshore Geotechnical Engineering

The design of foundations for civil engineering structures is one of the main areas of expertise of geotechnical engineers. At the Section for Geotechnics and Geology, the research is focused on the effect of the adverse conditions on the design of foundation systems constructed offshore. The influence of the harsh offshore environment is related not only to the environmental conditions as wind- and wave-induced dynamic loading, but also to its consequences on the adopted design configurations.

In the case of offshore wind turbines, one of the most commonly applied foundation types is the monopile. Pile foundations, then, are not only rigid but they also have large diameters in excess of 2 m, small slenderness ratios (embedment depth to diameter), in the order of 5 or 6, and the load eccentricity is large. The cyclic nature of the loading is also related to the change in the secant stiffness and the accumulation of deflection, which are critical parameters in the design of wind turbine foundations. Hence, the soil-pile interaction is complex and governed by mechanisms not well documented so far, which are investigated by the researchers at the section. Additionally, the dynamic interaction between waves, the offshore structure and its foundation and the underlying soil are essential in the design of marine structures. All in all, the soil-water-foundation-structure interaction comprises the research focus of our group.

The methods employed to reach our research objectives are mainly physical and numerical modellings, while real-time monitoring is expected also to give a thorough understanding on the examined problems. Physical modelling is applied by performing experiments in the centrifuge set-up, while the numerical approach is materialised via both Finite Element and Finite Volume models.

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Illustration of soil-water-foundation-structure interaction in the case of offshore wind turbines. Physical and numerical models developed at the section.


We are currently working two projects within Offshore Geotechnical Engineering :

  • Abyss: Advancing Beyond Shallow Waters - Optimal design of offshore wind turbine support structures
  • Stiffness and Damping properties of Monopile Support Structures for Offshore Wind Turbines - Analysis of Full-scale Measurements

Read more about the projects here. 




Varvara Zania
Associate Professor
DTU Civil Engineering
+45 45 25 50 92