Trainee - Realistic Rheologies for Climate-Change-Driven Landslides and Avalanches

December 18, 2022
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2022-05566 - Trainee - Realistic Rheologies for Climate-Change-Driven Landslides and Avalanches

Contract type : Internship agreement

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : Internship Research

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes research center groups together almost 600 people in 22 research teams and 7 research support departments.

Staff is present on three campuses in Grenoble, in close collaboration with other research and higher education institutions (University Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CEA, INRAE, …), but also with key economic players in the area.

Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes is active in the fields of high-performance computing, verification and embedded systems, modeling of the environment at multiple levels, and data science and artificial intelligence. The center is a top-level scientific institute with an extensive network of international collaborations in Europe and the rest of the world.


TRIPOP is a joint research team of Inria Grenoble Rhône-Alpes and of the Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann and started in January 2018 as a follow up of the BIPOP team. The team is mainly concerned by the modelling, the simulation and the control of nonsmooth dynamical systems. Nonsmooth dynamics concerns the study of the time evolution of systems that are not smooth in the mathematical sense, i.e. systems that are characterized by a lack of differentiability, either of the mappings in their formulations, or of their solutions with respect to time. In mechanics, the main instances of nonsmooth dynamical systems are multibody systems with Signorini's unilateral contact, set-valued (Coulomb-like) friction and impacts, or in continuum mechanics, ideal plasticity, fracture or damage. The members of the team have many years of experience of nonsmooth dynamics modelling together with the development of simulation software. This project will be undertaken as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions project LEMMA (Landslide and avalanchE Mechanics with Multiphysical datA), undertaken by TRIPOP team members Dr Nicholas Collins-Craft, Dr Franck Bourrier, and Dr Vincent Acary, in collaboration with Professor Johan Gaume (ETH/WSL). The selected candidate will be integrated in the TRIPOP team for a period of approximately 6 months (the exact start date length and will be tailored to meet the needs of the successful candidate), provided with all necessary resources, and paid a salary of approximately 600 euros/month.


Physical changes linked to climate change such as increased temperatures and precipitation are known to drive an increased frequency of large-scale mass movements in alpine environments such as landslides and avalanches (Keiler et al., 2010). Once flow begins, such large masses behave (and are modelled) as granular materials (Li et al., 2020). While there are a very large number of modelling approaches that have been adopted for such materials, when the flow is sufficiently fast, the μ(I)–φ(I) rheology, where the material internal friction and solid volume fraction depend on a non-dimensional inertial number (Pouliquen and Forterre, 2009), is regarded as being the most appropriate. However, the inertial number assumes a single constant grain size, while in reality, mass movements feature a wide and evolving distribution of grain sizes. The appropriate material modelling theory to take account of this already exists, namely Breakage Mechanics (Einav, 2007), but it has not yet been properly integrated with the μ(I)–φ(I) rheology. Further, in order to simulate large mass movements with an appropriate numerical method such as the Material Point Method, the modelling must be conducted in the finite strain framework (Jiang et al., 2016). Thus, the scientific project is to create a finite-strain formulation of a Breakage- enhanced μ(I)–φ(I) model (possibly further extended with a temperature field), suitable for an implementation at scale that will allow the numerical simulation of landslides and avalanches.

To apply, please include a cover letter (in English or French, approximately one page in length) describing your background and motivation for this project, as well as a curriculum vitae. This project would be suitable for students with a solid grounding in mathematics and interest in material modelling (including but not limited to civil/mechanical engineering, physics, applied mathematics etc). Some experience in coding and scientific computing is preferred but not essential, provided the candidate is willing to learn. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Nicholas Collins-Craft ( with any questions about the project.

References Einav, Itai (2007). “Breakage Mechanics-Part I: Theory”. In: Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 55.6, pp. 1274–1297. issn: 00225096. doi: 10.1016/j.jmps.2006.11.003. Jiang, Chenfanfu et al. (2016). “The Material Point Method for Simulating Continuum Materials”. In: SIGGRAPH 2016 Course Notes, p. 52. isbn: 978-1-4503-4289-6. doi: 10.1145/2897826.2927348. url: https:// Keiler, Margreth, Jasper Knight and Stephan Harrison (28th May 2010). “Climate Change and Geomorphological Hazards in the Eastern European Alps”. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368.1919, pp. 2461–2479. doi: 10.1098/RSTA.2010.0047. url: https: // Li, Xingyue et al. (12th Oct. 2020). “The Mechanical Origin of Snow Avalanche Dynamics and Flow Regime Transitions”. In: Cryosphere 14.10, pp. 3381–3398. doi: 10.5194/TC-14-3381-2020. Pouliquen, Olivier and Yoël Forterre (2009). “A Non-Local Rheology for Dense Granular Flows”. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 367.1909, pp. 5091–5107. issn: 1364503X. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2009.0171.

Main activities

Main activities :

  • Become familiar with the literature on the μ(I)–φ(I) rheology, Breakage Mechanics and large-deformation material modelling and write a literature review,
  • Develop one or more models integrating these different modelling approaches, and
  • Integrate the model(s) numerically, with the help of a pre-existing software framework.
  • Skills

    Technical skills and level required : A good grounding in mathematics, especially numerical solution of differential equations (some experience with tensors is appreciated). Specific experience with continuum mechanics and material modelling is advantageous. Some experience with programming (especially for scientific computing) is appreciated (especially experience with the Julia programming language).

    Languages : The candidate must be at least strong enough in English to comfortably read scientific articles. The candidate must also be competent in written or spoken English or French.

    Other values appreciated : Curiosity and a commitment to openness, rigour and scientific integrity in your work.

    Benefits package
  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Remuneration

    Minimum legal gratification

    General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Numerical schemes and simulations Scientific computing (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Montbonnot

  • Inria Center : Centre Inria de l'Université Grenoble Alpes
  • Starting date : 2023-02-01
  • Duration of contract : 6 months
  • Deadline to apply : 2022-12-18
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : TRIPOP
  • Recruiter : Collins-craft Nicholas Anton /
  • About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website.

    Processing of applications sent by other channels is not guaranteed.

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.

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