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Experimental investigation into the primary fabric of stress transmitting particles

Fonseca, J., Reyes-Aldasoro, C. C., O'Sullivan, C. & Coop, M. R. (2015). Experimental investigation into the primary fabric of stress transmitting particles. In: Soga, K., Kumar, K., Biscontin, G. & Kuo, M. (Eds.), Geomechanics from Micro to Macro. (pp. 1019-1024). London, UK: CRC Press.


Understanding the stress distribution amongst the constituent grains is fundamental to predict the response of soil and advance science-based, rather than purely empirical, constitutive models. Photoelastic experiments and discrete element method simulations have provided evidence that, upon loading, discrete force chains form in granular materials. These force chains are made up of particles transmitting relatively large stresses and they are aligned in the direction of the major principal stress. A few qualitative studies have identified the presence of these force chains in sands but direct measurements of force chains have not been previously documented and tracking stress transmission in assemblies of real soil grains remains a challenging task. The present study makes use of three dimensional micro CT images to investigate the evolution of the internal topology of a sand subjected to triaxial compression loading. The analysis of the contact normal and branch vector orientations has shown the realignment of the contact normals in the direction of the major principal stress as a clear indication of the formation of force chains in the post-peak regime. Here the extent of the non-colinearity of the branch and contact normal vectors is explored. Using the micro CT data contact force networks within and outside of shear bands are compared.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Geomechanics from Micro to Macro on 26 Aug 2014, available online:
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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