Professor Mason Ghafghazi

Geomechanics and Mining Icon Geomechanics Research Group

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Mason Ghafghazi, PhD, PEng
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Civil Engineering
University of Toronto
35 St. George St.
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5S 1A4

Research Interests

  • Numerical and physical modelling of geotechnical processes
  • Constitutive modelling of soils
  • Behaviour of gravelly soils
  • Assessment of liquefaction potential and post-cyclic response of intermediate soils
  • Geotechnical field investigation

Education and Designations

  • PhD, University of British Columbia (2011)
  • MSc, Sharif University of Technology (2004)
  • BSc, Isfahan University of Technology (2002)


Course Code Title & Description Instructor Session Day(s) Start Time End Location(s)

Prof. Mason Ghafghazi Fall 2017 Friday 12:00 15:00 GB 117
CIV1499H LEC0201

Prof. Mason Ghafghazi Winter 2018 Wednesday 18:00 20:00 GB 117
CIV324H Prof. Mason Ghafghazi Winter 2018 Scheduled by the Office of the Faculty Registrar.


My research focuses on addressing the practical issues that industry faces when dealing with soils, or soil-like materials that do not have the typical characteristics of clean quartz sands, or plastic clays. I use advanced laboratory element testing, large scale testing, and constitutive and numerical modelling to address these problems.

My research group works on quantifying the response of non-classic geomaterials such as widely graded gravelly soils, low plasticity clays and silts. The work starts by characterizing the fundamental behaviour of different materials through element testing in our lab and continues by developing constitutive models, analyzing the problems and validating them through large scale tests. The results are being utilized to analyze field characterization tools such as the Cone Penetrometer, to demonstrate how the interpretation of these tests would be affected by different soil properties. Once the in-situ soil conditions are known, full scale problems, including documented case histories of performance under extreme events are analyzed to investigate the influence of material-specific behaviour on system performance.

Professional Background

  • Project Scientist, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, 2014-2015
  • Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Scholar, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, 2012-2014
  • Geotechnical Engineer, BC Hydro, Vancouver, Canada, 2008-2012


Mason has eight years of experience working as a geotechnical engineer before joining the faculty at the University of Toronto. He has worked on a range of projects involving embankment dams, lifelines, bridges and mines for BC Hydro, California Department of Water Resources, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, California Department of Transportation and Golder Associates. His areas of expertise are monotonic and cyclic response of soils, liquefaction assessment, sampling and laboratory testing of soils, field investigation and site characterization, instrumentation, dynamic testing of piles, and numerical modelling.


Selected Publications


  1. Ghafghazi M., Shuttle D.A., and DeJong J.T. 2014. Particle breakage and the critical state of sand. Soils and Foundations, 54(3): 451-461.
  2. Ghafghazi M., and Shuttle D.A. 2009. Confidence and accuracy in determination of the critical state friction angle. Soils and Foundations, 49(3): 391-395.
  3. Ghafghazi M., and Shuttle D.A. 2008. Interpretation of sand state from cone penetration resistance. Géotechnique, 58(8): 623-634.
  4. Ghafghazi M., and Shuttle D.A. 2008. Evaluation of soil state from SBP and CPT: A case history. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 45(6): 824-844.
  5. Ghafghazi M., Shuttle D.A., and DeJong J.T. 2014. Closure to Particle breakage and the critical state of sand. Soils and Foundations, 55(1):223-225.