PhD studentship @UNIMIB on the mechanics of large creeping rockslides

The mechanics of large creeping rockslides: experimental and numerical modeling of hydro-mechanical interactions in basal shear zones

Large rockslides evolve by progressive rock failure and strain localization in basal shear zones, with a time-dependent macroscale behavior (“creep”) anticipating catastrophic collapse. Nonetheless, existing forecasting and Early Warning approaches are often based on empirical descriptions of observed creep styles not accounting for the microscale physical processes governing the transition to collapse. In particular, hydro-mechanical interactions in basal shear zones and their sensitivity to hydrological forcing, especially in climate change scenarios, remain elusive.

This PhD project will explore the effects of mineralogy and evolving texture on the magnitude, timing, and velocity dependence of rockslide shear zone response to stress and pore pressure perturbations. To this end, innovative laboratory creep experiments on natural shear zone materials will be combined with state-of-art constitutive and numerical techniques (e.g. PFEM, MPM), able to model large deformation and strain localization, and compared to field and remotely sensed in situ monitoring data.

We seek a candidate with an engineering/structural geological or geotechnical background, motivated to work in a multi- disciplinary team with strong geological, geotechnical, and computational expertise, to improve our understanding of large landslide behavior in a risk reduction perspective. The research will be carried out in collaboration with Sapienza University of Rome (Rock Mechanics and Earthquake Physics Lab) and the Universidad de Los Andes (Chile), where the PhD student will spend a research period.

Supervisors:  Prof. Federico Agliardi ( & Prof. Matteo Ciantia (

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