Skip to main content

Mr Sam Sutcliffe

Research Postgraduate - Computational Mechanics Node

Research Postgraduate - Computational Mechanics Node in the Department of Engineering


Sam is a PhD student in Engineering working on computational mechanics applied to glaciers. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Durham University with a first class MEng in 2022, winning an IMechE award for his final year project.

Sam's final year project was on using the Material Point Method for unsaturated soil mechanics, evaluating the use of multi-point methods.


Ocean terminating glaciers in the polar regions cause sea level rise by releasing land-borne ice into the sea. One of the major driving factors for releasing this ice is glacier calving - a complex process driven by a mixture of fracture and damage mechanics. Although fracture on the glaciers is highly localised, it is affected by the history of the ice as it flows from the ice cap down to the sea.
Modelling the flow of ice over 100s of years is difficult to capture with normal finite element methods due to the presence of large deformations, and history variables may get diffused in grid-based methods. Sam's research focuses on using the Material Point Method to model and study glaciers, utilising its robustness to large deformation and power in modelling history dependent constitutive models to better capture the calving process.

Research interests

  • Computational solid mechanics
  • Fracture mechanics
  • High performance computing