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On the tensile strength of soil grains in Hertzian response

Nadimi, S. & Fonseca, J. (2017). On the tensile strength of soil grains in Hertzian response. Paper presented at the Powders and Grains 2017 – 8th International Conference on Micromechanics on Granular Media, 3-7 July 2017, Montpellier, France. doi: 10.1051/epjconf/201714007001


The breakage initiation of soil grains is controlled by its tensile capacity. Despite the importance of tensile strength, it is often disregarded due to difficulties in measurement. This paper presents an experimental and numerical investigation on the effect of tensile strength on Hertzian response of a single soil grain. Hertz theory is commonly used in numerical simulation to present the contact constitutive behaviour of a purely elastic grain under normal loading. This normal force:displacement comes from stress distribution and concentration inside the grain. When the stress reaches the tensile capacity, a crack initiates. A series of numerical tests have been conducted to determine the sensitivity of Hertzian response to the selected tensile strength used as an input data. An elastic-damage constitutive model has been employed for spherical grains in a combined finite-discrete element framework. The interpretation of results was enriched by considering previous theoretical work. In addition, systematic experimental tests have been carried out on both spherical glass beads and grains of two different sands, i.e. Leighton Buzzard silica sand and coarse carbonate sand from Persian Gulf. The preliminary results suggest that lower tensile strength leads to a softer response under normal loading. The wider range of responses obtained for the carbonate sand, are believed to be related to the large variety of grain shape associated with bioclastic origin of the constituent grains.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
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