Dr. Chunshun Zhang

Dr. Chunshun Zhang

Lecturer in Geomechanics Engineering
Department of Civil Engineering
Clayton Campus: Room G08, 23 College Walk (B60), Clayton Campus, Melbourne, Australia / Suzhou Campus: Room 8202, SEU-Monash JGS Building, Suzhou, China

Dr Chunshun Zhang is a Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University, Melbourne Australia. Chunshun’s expertise is in general areas of geotechnical engineering and geo-infrastructure. He has a background in both academia (over 4 years) and industry (around 3 years in GHD, Australia) and is a member of Engineers Australia and Australia Geomechanics Society.

He has made novel contributions to areas including geomechanics in modelling of load-induced grain crushing, estimation of the piled foundation bearing capacity in crushable soils, mineral crushing in roll mills, etc. His applied research areas are on modelling of surface subsidence induced by underground longwall mining, where he has established one of Australia’s largest numerical models for vast scale underground mining processes for industrial applications. In recent years, his seminal contributions are on buried water pipelines with a focus on the failure mechanism of pressurised water mains. He has carried out a large number of numerical analyses to develop a Monash Tool for water utilities to improve their asset management capability.

Overall, he has published over 40 technical papers in a diverse range of topics and has been involved in attracting over 7 million Australian dollars external and internal research grants, either being CI or project lead. He is the winner of some prestigious international/national awards, including the George Stephenson Medal for the best paper in Géotechnique 2014 (second best paper across all ICE journals), International Water Association’s Project Innovation Award (2016), etc.


  • PhD , The University of Sydney, 2012


Geomechanics and geotechnical engineering; constitutive modelling and numerical simulation of granular materials; condition assessment of water mains

Research Interests

Dr Chunshun Zhang’s research focuses on three categories: (a) fundamental research that advances the discipline, (b) applied research that benefits industry, and (c) research that informs and influences policy and government. Most of his research serves for a long-term purpose, such as to improve the understanding of the fundamental mechanism of granular materials, to provide a useful tool for water utilities to better manage their underground asset like pipelines, and to design a well-adaptive high efficient microwave equipment to enhance rock fragmentation, etc.

Research Projects

Current projects

Smart pipelines: an integrated platform for detecting oil, gas and water leaks

Australian and other countries’ large cities are facing a watershed moment in their upgrade to future cities, which rely on not only the intelligent buildings above the ground but also on the infrastructure required to support them. Among various underground assets in the modern cities, pipelines play a vital role, maintaining the normal operation of the cities. However, the frequently occurred pipe leak events are lagging behind the growth and development of the future cities, causing resources waste (over 20% water wasted due to leak in Australia) and even severe accidents such as explosions, fires, and fatalities, as shown in the figure.

Most current device/technologies detect the leak location from the ground by measurement and the processing of vibrio acoustic signals generated by the leak; however, for underground pipelines, the accuracy is not satisfactory and low efficient, but prone to be disturbed by ambient noise and subgrade materials. A few other technologies rely on an in-pipe detector, say a ball that flows with water; however, it requires many acoustic receivers along the pipeline to identify and locate the leaks. To install these acoustic receivers is costly and time-consuming, and the running ball may be diverted into other connecting pipelines by the flowing fluid.

To align the future of our cities, our infrastructure networks, particularly the pipelines, need to change to be “smart”, i.e., automatically, quickly and accurately monitor and identify the locations of the oil, gas and water leaks. However, here the “smart” is more than the automatic leak detection; the pipeline condition assessment, service life prediction, and risk alert would be integrated into a smart platform to ensure efficient asset management for the future cities.

The project is therefore proposed to develop state-of-the-art research and technology in leak detection. Some preliminary research work, e.g., on fibre optics in pipelines, has been performed from our group’s international critical pipe project. With the robust research strength of our Monash group, and great support from the local water, oil, and gas utilities, it is highly expected the proposed project will gain a promising outcome that benefits industry and informs and influences policy and government.

Modelling of microwave induced stresses in rocks


This project is aimed to model the generation and distribution of thermally induced stresses in rocks subjected to microwave irradiation.

Project Details

Rocks need to be fractured for various purposes, e.g., to exploit underground energy (i.e., heat) deeply beneath the Earth’s surface. However, traditional mechanical drilling technology is neither economic nor environmentally friendly. Alternatively, an emerging promising approach is using thermal treatment, e.g., microwave power, to break rocks, which is the focus of this project. Through numerical modelling and experiments, we aim to provide valuable insights into the nature of the complicated thermal-induced fracturing mechanism. The research outcomes from this project may help improve the exploration efficiency of underground energy; it is the energy that is estimated to enable Australia to be self-sustained for thousands of years.

Influence of folds in heterogeneous, layered rock on vertical stresses

It is a general practice to assume that the vertical stress is equal to the weight of the overlying rock, 0.027 MPa/m on the average. However, this breaks down in some cases owing to the effects of geological structure. For instance, the vertical stress might vary along horizontal planes cutting through a succession of rigid rock layer folded into synclines and anticlines. A limited number of studies pointed out that the vertical stress varies from perhaps 60% greater than rZ under the syncline to zero just beneath the anticline. Additionally, the more rigid folded layer may result in higher variations in the vertical stresses. Nevertheless, there appears no systematic research on this issue.

This project aims to investigate the changes of vertical stresses due to the presence of a folded rock layer. Parametric analysis including the thickness, rigidity, curvature of the fold will be carried out to systematically examine the influence of the folded rock layer on vertical stresses. Comparison between the fold-induced vertical stress and rZ will be presented and analysed, from which a closed-form equation to describe the vertical stresses at different cross-sections might be derived.

Description of particle size distribution and its evolution

A (Cumulative) particle size distribution (PSD) has been widely used in geotechnical engineering and geomechanics, which provides fundamental features to explain the mechanical and physical behaviours of granular materials. Most current description for PSD is to use a fractal form (through a power law equation) to fit a PSD curve; however, this does not always work well, as there are many irregular patterns of the size reductions.

This project aims first to review the current approaches that have been adopted to describe the PSD and its evolution. Their similarities, unique features and limitations will be highlighted and investigated. Then, a large number of size reduction data of many different types of granular materials from the literature will be gathered to examine the feasibility of the different approaches; a recommendation of using various approaches will be given. Based on the collected dataset of PSD, a new general approach to universally describe general patterns of PSD will be attempted to develop. Comparison between the proposed method and other current ones will be made with detailed discussion over their pros and cons.

Cooperative Research Centres Project – Smart Linings for Pipe and Infrastructure

This is the CRC Program for $3 million in government funding and over $2.7 million from industry to support the research and validation of liners for pipeline rehabilitation.

This project is a collaboration between WSAA, manufacturers, applicators, utilities, and researchers, and seeks to improve and validate product and application knowledge, enabling the development of industry standards, specifications and tools and confirming the demand for lining technologies.

As a significant proportion of water and wastewater infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life, with high quality and reliable pipe lining products providing a potentially cost-effective solution. The market opportunity is significant, however, there are currently no clear performance and application guidelines and standards in Australia, limiting uptake and innovation of this technology and therefore investment of Australian SMEs in lining innovations.

The technical deliverables include:

  • Develop industry standards and guidance documents
  • Perform analytical tests for validation and testing of linings
  • Field-test liners
  • Develop and test multi-sensor robot prototypes

The tangible industry outcomes expected from this project are:

  • Improvements to design and application of smart lining products
  • Commercialisation of intelligent sensing/robotic technologies
  • Extending the life of critical infrastructure
  • Market growth for Australian lining SMEs
  • Enhanced Australian innovative linings knowledge and capacity

Past projects

Evaluation of the impact of CIPP liner folds on pressurised pipelines

As a trenchless rehabilitation technology, cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining has been widely used in various types of deteriorated water pipelines. For example, CIPP lining replaces conventional bursting method to repair asbestos cement (AC) pipelines, to avoid causing harm to the local environment. However, when generating CIPP liner in a host water pipeline, the liner may be oversized to accommodate the diametrical variations, a typical manufacturing defect of the pipe. This common practice may often lead to the formation of liner folds along the entire pipe length. The resulted liner folds may cause large stress concentration and deteriorate the designed life of the CIPP. However, this critical aspect has yet to be investigated sufficiently.

This project is therefore to investigate the mechanical responses and failure pressures of CIPP liners with folds in various configurations, to enhance the understanding of the pressure degradation mechanism due to the presence of the liner folds.


Simulation of mining-induced fracture of rock strata

Overburden failure in mines is a hazard which can cause considerable damages, e.g. surface subsidence induce by coal mining, failure of underground aquifers, etc. The heights of the overburden caved zone, and the fractured zone is significant indexes when evaluating the extent and characteristics of overburden failure. The fractured overburden undergoes bending, and subsidence and then the adjacent rock blocks form an articulated structure, while the coalface and the fractured rock blocks may also form a cantilever beam structure in the periodic fracture process.

This project aims to investigate the fracture process due to overburden during coalface excavation. Rock-like materials, mixed sands, gypsum, lime and water, will be used to examine the heights of the caved zone and fractured zone with rock fracture, and simultaneous surface subsidence with coalface excavation.

Stress field visualisation in Brazilian tensile test by photoelasticity equipment

Photoelasticity technique has been widely used for the acquisition of stress fields of transparent materials under compressive, tensile or shear loading conditions. When a specimen is subjected to loading, it shows double refraction to the incident light due to the change of the stress field. Therefore, photoelasticity can be used to demonstrate the distribution of stress and stress concentrations of transparent materials.

This project aims to visualise the instantaneous stress fields of polycarbonates in Brazilian tensile tests. Students need to use an HD camera to record the images of testing samples and compare the results with those obtained from FEM simulations to verify the feasibility of photoelasticity equipment.


China’s early warning system progress

Ji, Jian., Gao, Y., Lü, Q., Wu, Z., Zhang, W., Zhang, C.July 2019 In : Science

Dynamic responses of high-speed railway transition zone with various subgrade fillings

Hu, P.Zhang, C*., Wen, S & Wan, Y.H., Apr 2019 In : Computers and Geotechnics

Favorable driving direction of double shield TBM in deep mixed rock strata: numerical investigations to reduce shield entrapment

Wen, S.Zhang, C.*, Zhang, Y, Feb 2019 In : Geomechanics and Engineering, An International Journal

Effect of loading rates and stress paths on rock strengths:a novel approach based on experimental evidence

Zhang, K., Zhang, C.*, Qiu, S., Gamage, P.G., 2019 In : Arabian Journal of Geosciences

Seismic response of tunnel lining structure in a thick expansive soil stratum

Wang, Y.X., Shan, S.B., Zhang C.*, Guo P.P., 2019 In : Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology

Reliability-based design for geotechnical engineering: An inverse FORM approach for practice

Ji, J., Zhang, C., Gao, Y., Kodikara, J., July 2019 In: Computers and Geotechnics


Effect of 2D spatial variability on slope reliability: A simplified FORM analysis

Ji, J.Zhang, C.*, Gao, Y. & Kodikara, J. 1 Nov 2018 In : Geoscience Frontiers. 96p. 1631-1638 8 p.

Decoupling pipeline influences in soil resistivity measurements with finite element techniques

Deo, R. N., Azoor, R. M., Zhang, C. & Kodikara, J. K. 1 Mar 2018 In : Journal of Applied Geophysics. 150p. 304-313 10 p.

Leak detection and quantification of leak size along water pipe using optical fibre sensors package

Wong, L.Deo, R. N.Rathnayaka, S.Shannon, B.Zhang, C.Kodikara, J.Chiu, W. K. & Widyastuti, H. 1 Jan 2018 In : Electronic Journal of Structural Engineering. 181p. 47-53 7 p.

Water pipe condition assessment using submersible quasi-distributed optical fibre based pressure transducers

Wong, L.Deo, R.Rathnayaka, S.Shannon, B.Zhang, C.Kodikara, J. & Chiu, W. K. 1 Jan 2018 In : Electronic Journal of Structural Engineering. 181p. 54-60 7 p.

Dynamic responses of bridge–embankment transitions in high speed railway: Field tests and data analyses

Hu, P.Zhang, C.Chen, S., Wang, Y., Wang, W. & Duan, W. H. 2018 In : Engineering Structures. 175p. 565-576 12 p.


Evaluation of the performance of a breakage model for high porosity Haubourdin chalk

Zhang, C.Ji, J.Kodikara, J. & Gui, Y. 1 Oct 2017 In : Computers and Geotechnics. 90, p. 113-119 7 p.

Numerical interpretation of pressurized corroded cast iron pipe tests

Zhang C., Rathnayaka S, Shannon B, JI J, Kodikara J . 2017 In : International Journal of Mechanical Sciences. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmecsci.2017.04.015

Hyperbolic constitutive model to study cast iron pipes in 3-D nonlinear finite element analyses

Zhang, C.JI, J.Kodikara, J. & Rajani, B. 1 May 2017 In : Engineering Failure Analysis. 75, p. 26-36 11 p.

New Observations on the Application of LS-SVM in Slope System Reliability Analysis

Ji, J.Zhang, C., Gui, Y., Lü, Q. & Kodikara, J. 1 Mar 2017 In : Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering. 31, 2, 9 p., 06016002.

Implicit integration of simple breakage constitutive model for crushable granular material: A numerical test

Zhang, C.Ji, J., Yang, S-Q. & Kodikara, J. 1 Feb 2017 In : Computers and Geotechnics. 82, p. 43-53 11 p.

 Introduction of the leak-before-break (LBB) concept for cast iron water pipes on the basis of laboratory experiments

Rathnayaka, S.Shannon, B.Zhang, C. & Kodikara, J. 18 Jan 2017 In : Urban Water Journal. p. 1-9 9 p.

 Probabilistic physical modelling of corroded cast iron pipes for lifetime prediction

Ji, J., Robert, D. J., Zhang, C., Zhang, D. & Kodikara, J. Jan 2017 In : Structural Safety. 64, p. 62-75 14 p.


Evaluation of soil-concrete interfaceshear strength based on LS-SVM

Zhang, C.Ji, J., Gui, Y., Kodikara, J., Yang, S-Q. & He, L. Sep 2016 In : Geomechanics and Engineering. 11, 3, p. 361-372 12 p.

 An application of breakage mechanics for predicting energy–size reduction relationships in comminution

Zhang, C., Nguyen, G. D. & Kodikara, J. 1 Jan 2016 In : Powder Technology. 287, p. 121-130 10 p.


Prediction of stress concentration factor of corrosion pits on buried pipes by least squares support vector machine

Ji, J.Zhang, C.*Kodikara, J. K. & Yang, S. Sep 2015 In : Engineering Failure Analysis. 55, p. 131-138 8 p.

 Lifetime Reliability Assessment of Buried Pipelines Subjected to Corrosion

JI, J.Zhang, C. & Kodikara, J. K. 2015 p. 373-375.


Theoretical breakage mechanics and experimental assessment of stresses surrounding piles penetrating into dense silica sand

Zhang, C., Yang, Z. X., Nguyen, G. D., Jardine, R. & Einav, I. Jan 2014 In : Geotechnique Letters. 4, 1, p. 11-16 6 p.


The end-bearing capacity of piles penetrating into crushable soils

Zhang, C., Nguyen, G. D. & Einav, I. 2013 In : Geotechnique. 63, 5, p. 341-354 14 p.


Pile-soil interaction in expansive soil foundation: Analytical solution and numerical simulation

Xiao, H., Zhang, C., Wang, Y. & Fan, Z. 16 Jun 2011 In : International Journal of Geomechanics. 11, 3, p. 159-166 8 p.

 A study of grain crushing around penetrating piles using a micromechanics-based continuum model

Zhang, C., Einav, I. & Nguyen, G. 2011 Computational Geomechanics, COMGEO II-Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Computational Geomechanics: Cavtat-Dubrovnik, Croatia, 27-29 April 2011. p. 714-720.

Simulation analysis of deformation for unsaturated expansive soils based on fluid-solid coupling characteristics

Fan, Z., Zhang, C. & Xiao, H. 2011 In : Zhongnan Daxue Xuebao (Ziran Kexue Ban)/Journal of Central South University (Science and Technology). 42, 3, p. 758-764.



  • 2018-2019: Chunshun Zhang

Monash Faculty of Engineering Seed Fund, “Thermal damage of rocks: an experimental and numerical study”, AUD 25,000

  • 1/01/18 – 31/12/21 : Jayantha Kodikara., Chunshun Zhang & Suranj Rathnayaka, et al.

Innovative pipe linings collaborative research project, Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) Grant, granted by Australian government, utilities and water industry, AUD$5,778,212 (Monash AUD$1, 709, 471 pro rata)

  • 10/2017 – 10/2018: Suranj Rathnayaka, Chunshun Zhang & Jayantha Kodikara.

Determination of Pipe Pressure Grade / Burial Depth for PVC Water Pipes to Maximize Pipe’s Asset Life Considering External / Internal Factors, Sydney Water Corporation: AUD$98,000.

  • 2016 – 2019: Chief Investigator

Industry research collaborative project for enhancing Sydney Water operations through advancement, dissemination, training and implementation of ACAPFP, Sydney Water, AUD$2,000,000.

  • 2016 – Present: Jayantha Kodikara & Chunshun Zhang

Finite Element Modelling for CIPP Integrity Evaluations, South East Water Ltd, AUD$65,000.

  • 01/2016 – 12/2017: Chunshun Zhang, Shengqi Yang, Jian Ji & Rong Hu

Studying deformation and localized failure modes of rocks based on continuum breakage mechanics and breakage model, State Key Laboratory for GeoMechanics and Deep Underground Engineering, China University of Mining Technology, SKLGDUEK1502, 100,000RMB (approx. AUD$20,000).

  • 11/2014 – 02/2017: Chief Investigator

International project “Advanced Condition Assessment and Pipe Failure Project (ACAPFP)” Eight Australian Water Utilities, USA Water Research Foundation and UK Water Industry Research Ltd, AUD$6,000,000



Xiang Lei
Reliability assessment of deteriorated stormwater pipes and prediction of their remaining lifetime
2017 to 2019

Tingwen Sun
Microwave enhanced rock fragmentation
2017 to 2020

Chathuri Jayamali Maha Madakalapuge
Advanced pavement design for practical use incorporating climate effects for unbound pavements with thin seals

Liuxin Chen
Finite element implementation of the MPK (Monash-Peradeniya-Kodikara) generalized model

Teaching Commitments

  • CIV5886/CIV6886 (2018, 2019) - Infrastructure Geomechanics
  • CIV5901 (2018, 2019) - Geotechnical analysis and design
  • CIV5887/ CIV6887 (2016, 2017, 2018) - Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Monitoring
  • CIV3247 (2016, 2017) - Geomechanics II
  • ENG5005 (2018, 2019) - Engineering Project A
  • ENG5006 (2018, 2019) - Engineering Project B

Research Awards

  • 2016: International Water Association’s Project Innovation Awards. Chief Investigator.
  • 2016: Australian Water Association’s National Research Innovation Award. Chief Investigator.
  • 2016: Australian Water Association’s NSW Research Innovation Award. Chief Investigator.
  • 2016: Australian B/HERT Award for 2016 Best Research & Development Collaboration. Chief Investigator.
  • 2014: George Stephenson Medal for the best paper in Géotechnique (Second best paper across all ICE journals).
  • 2012: Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) NSW research award.
Last modified: 23/11/2020