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Image-based investigation into the primary fabric of stress transmitting particles in sand

Fonseca, J., Nadimi, S., Reyes-Aldasoro, C. C. , O’Sullivan, C. & Coop, M. R. (2016). Image-based investigation into the primary fabric of stress transmitting particles in sand. Soils and Foundations, 56(5), pp. 818-834. doi: 10.1016/j.sandf.2016.08.007


This paper uses three-dimensional images of a natural silica sand to analyse the mechanisms of stress transmission under triaxial compression. As discussed in Fonseca, J., O’Sullivan, C., Coop, M., Lee, P.D., (2012), the irregular morphology and locked fabric that can be found in natural sands lead to the formation of contacts with extended surface areas. However, most of our current understanding of stress-transmission phenomena comes from DEM simulations and photo-elastic experiments using idealised grain shapes and contact topologies. The direct measurement of stress transmission in assemblies of real soil grains is a challenging task. The present study postulates that important insight can be obtained by following the evolution of intergranular contacts as the grains rearrange and by considering how these rearrangements enhance the stability of the material. The methodology consists of measuring the geometrical data of the individual grains and their associated contacts obtained at successive load stages in the post-peak regime (after shear band formation). A statistical analysis of the vectors normal to the contacts reveals a realignment of these vectors in the direction of the major principal stress; this is a clear indication of the formation of force chains. A subsequent analysis shows that these columnar structures of stress-transmitting grains are associated with larger contact surfaces and have distinct patterns in the regions affected by the formation of a shear band. An algorithm based on stability and load-transmission criteria is developed to contribute new insight into the characterisation of load-bearing sand particles.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Fabric/structure of soils; 3D microscopy; Shearing; Locked sand; Stress-transmission
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > giCentre
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