Fraser Bransby

Professor, MA, PhD Camb.

  • The University of Western Australia (M053), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Fraser specialises in geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics (the management of the ground in engineering projects and the study of how soil behaves as a material) with an emphasis on offshore geotechnics.  Offshore geotechnics involves the development and application of knowledge required to support the design of infrastructure resting on or in the seabed and so is a key input to offshore energy developments.   Fraser’s current research therefore involves a mix of topics relevant to oil and gas infrastructure (e.g. offshore pipelines and subsea foundations), renewable energy generation (e.g. anchors and foundations for offshore wind turbines and wave energy converters) and both areas (e.g. characterisation of the seabed); all work aiming to ensure safe, yet cost-effective infrastructure is built and maintained offshore.

Fraser has spent about thirty years undertaking geotechnical research and applying findings to practice at the universities of Cambridge, Western Australia and Dundee and at offshore geotechnical consultants Advanced Geomechanics and Fugro.  Although, a significant proportion of his research and consultancy activity has been focused on offshore geotechnics (since his first trip to UWA in 1996!), his research portfolio is unusually broad spanning from plant root interaction in soil to the behaviour of structures in earthquakes. These topics have been studied using a combination of research techniques ranging from using large geotechnical centrifuges to using computer based approaches, with the techniques selected (or combined) to understand the processes occurring and provide data to help develop/validate design approach.  

Since 2018, Fraser has held the Fugro Chair in Geotechnics at UWA.  In this role he liaises with Fugro offices worldwide to discuss consultancy and site investigation activity and research needs, directs and leads research of relevance to Fugro’s activities, and supervises multiple Master’s level research projects and PhD students, many in collaboration with Fugro.

Previous positions

  • BA (First Class) in Engineering. University of Cambridge (1991)
  • PhD in soil mechanics. University of Cambridge (1995)
  • Research Associate. University of Cambridge (1995-1996)
  • Research Associate, Research Fellow. University of Western Australia (1996-1999)
  • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer. University of Dundee (1999-2010)
  • Principal Engineer, Senior Principal Engineer. Advanced Geomechnics/Fugro (2010-2018)
  • Fugro Chair in Geotechnics. University of Western Australia (2018- )
  • Director, Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems, University of Western Australia (2021-)

Current projects

● Understanding vibratory piles in sand: installation and lateral response (ARC funded; 2 PhD students)

● The geostatistics of anchor design for floating renewables (ARENA funded; 1 PhD student)

● Geotechnical site characterisation for cables and pipelines through geophysical inversion (industry and ARC funded; 1 PhD student)

● Helical piles for floating renewable energy applications (1 PhD student)

● The long-term behaviour of plate anchors (ARC/industry ITRH funded; 1 PhD student)

● Design methods to quantify lateral and rotational stiffness of short monopiles (visiting PhD student)

● Shared anchors for floating renewable developments

● Crusty seabeds: From (Bio-)Genesis to reliable offshore design (ARC funded; 1 PhD student ongoing, 2 students to start)

● ARC Research Hub for Transforming Energy Infrastructure Through Digital Engineering (TIDE) (ARC and industry funded). Projects related to:

  • Site characterisation and uncertainty
  • long-term behaviour of surface-laid pipelines and cables
  • free-spanning pipelines

● Recent and ongoing Master's student projects (all in collaboration with Fugro) on:

  • Skirt penetration in carbonate sands
  • Free-spanning pipelines
  • The mechanical properties of offshore debris flows
  • Scour around jack-ups
  • Heat transfer around buried OWF cables


Industry keywords

  • Energy
  • Built Environment
  • Oceans

Research expertise keywords

  • Offshore geotechnics
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Site investigation


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