This paper reports the element search methods for the interpolation procedure of a large deformation finite element simulation. Special attention is given to a virtual mesh container technique, which can boost the computational efficiency. Benchmark problems of spudcan penetration are analysed to evaluate the performances of various element search methods. The results show that the element search method with the virtual mesh container can significantly reduce the computation cost. However, if the container size is too small, interpolation failure may occur. To guarantee stable mapping, a simple approach for determining an optimised virtual mesh container size is proposed.