From 2 November 2020, the autumn semester 2020 will take place online. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers via e-mail.

651-4003-00L  Numerical Modelling of Rock Deformation

SemesterAutumn Semester 2016
LecturersM. Frehner
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish

Catalogue data

AbstractIntroduction to the programming software Matlab.
Learning and understanding the continuum mechanics equations describing rock deformation.
Mathematical equations describing rock rheology: elasticity + viscosity.
Introduction to the finite-element method for modeling rock deformation in 2D.
A small applied project-work at the end of the semester will be tailored to the student's interest.
ObjectiveAt the end of this course, the students should be able to
- Use Matlab for their future needs (e.g., for their MSc Thesis)
- Understand the fundamental concept of the finite-element method
- Apply the finite-element method to successfully work on a small project tailored to the student's interests.

In addition, innovative methods will be applied to mark the performance in the course, which includes self-evaluation and peer-evaluation among the students. Therefore, some soft-skills will be required and trained as well, such as
- honest self-evaluation and self-grading
- providing honest feedback to a colleague in a tone that is acceptable
- receiving feedback from a colleague without taking criticism personal
- learning the procedure of scientific peer-evaluation
ContentIntroduction to Matlab
Continuum mechanics equations necessary to describe rock deformation
Rheological equations: elasticity + viscous materials
Introduction to the finite-element method (in 1D)
Numerical integration + isoparametric elements
Going to 2D finite elements
Finite-element method for 2D elasticity
Stress calculation + visualization
Finite-element method for 2D viscous materials
Heterogeneous media
Final project-based work tailored to the student's interest.

A substantial part of the lecture will take place in the computer-lab, where numerical finite element codes will be applied. The used software is Matlab. Students may bring their own laptop with a pre-installed copy of Matlab.
Lecture notesThe script is very diverse and ranges from PowerPoint-based pdf-files, to self-study tutorials. Also, the more theoretical and mathematical aspects will be explained on the black board without a proper script.

All lecture-presentations, as well as the numerical codes, will be made available to the students online.
LiteratureThere is no mandatory literature. The following literature is recomended:

Turcotte D.L. and Schubert G., 2002: Geodynamics, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-66624-4

Pollard D.D. and Fletcher R.C., 2005: Fundamentals of Structural Geology, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-83927-0

Ranalli G., 1995: Rheology of the Earth, Chapman & Hall, ISBN 0-412-54670-1

Smith I.M. and Griffiths D.V., 2004: Programming the Finite Element Method, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, ISBN 978-0-470-849-70-5

Zienkiewicz O.C. and Taylor R.L., 2000: The Finite Element Method - Volume 1: The Basis, Butterworth Heinemann, ISBN 0-7506-5049-4
Prerequisites / NoticeA good knowledge of linear algebra is expected.

The used software is Matlab. So, knowledge of Matlab is advantageous. Students may bring their own laptop with a pre-installed copy of Matlab.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersM. Frehner
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationThe grading of this course will be based on the performance in a small applied project, which will be tailored to the student's interest.

During the two last weeks of the semester, the students can start working on their projects; the final deadline for handing in the project report is around mid-February.

For evaluating the project reports, some innovative methods will be applied that also incorporate peer-evaluation among the students and self-evaluation.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


651-4003-00 GNumerical Modelling of Rock Deformation2 hrs
Thu10-12HG E 22 »
10-12HG E 26.1 »
10-12NO D 11 »
M. Frehner


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Earth Sciences MasterStructural Geology: Courses of ChoiceWInformation