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A micro finite-element model for soil behaviour

Nadimi, S. & Fonseca, J. (2017). A micro finite-element model for soil behaviour. Géotechnique, 68(4), pp. 290-302. doi: 10.1680/jgeot.16.p.147


This paper describes a numerical model that virtualises the fabric of a natural sand obtained from micro computed tomography (μCT) to simulate the mechanical response of the material, termed here a micro finite-element (μFE) model. The grain-to-grain interactions under loading are modelled in a framework of combined discrete–finite-element method. The basis of this approach is that using a true representation of soil fabric and deformable grains will enable a more realistic representation of the physics of granular behaviour. Each individual grain is represented in a numerical mesh and modelled as a continuum body allowed to deform according to a prescribed constitutive model with appropriate friction contact conditions. An important feature of this model is the ability to compute the map of stress distribution inside the grains. A case study of an intact sand subjected to oedometer compression is presented to demonstrate the insights that can be gained into the stress transmission mechanisms and yield initiation within the grains. The displacement field, inertia tensor and active contact number are used to quantify grain kinematics as the virtual fabric deforms. By coupling contact dynamics with contact topology, this approach provides a robust numerical tool to infer important grain scale parameters that link the micro phenomena to the macro response of soil.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: fabric/structure of soils; numerical modelling; particle-scale behaviour; sands
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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