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A micro finite-element model for soil behaviour: experimental evaluation for sand under triaxial compression

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sadegh NadimiORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by I C E Publishing, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper evaluates the ability of a combined discrete-finite element approach to replicate the experimental response of a dry sand under triaxial compression. The numerical sample was created by virtualising the fabric of a Martian regolith-like sand sample obtained from an in-situ test using X-ray micro Computed Tomography and physical properties of the grains obtained from laboratory data were used as input. The boundary and contact conditions were defined according to the experimental test. A key feature of the model is the use of deformable thin-shell elements to represent the numerical membrane, which allows for a realistic failure mode and volumetric deformation. The macroscopic response of the numerical simulation is shown to compare well with the experiment. The contact regions are identified based on their ability to transmit stress and the evolution of the contact normals is shown to correlate well with the macro stress evolution. The computed stress fields within each grain are used to identify the load bearing grains in the assembly, contributing new insights beyond the commonly reported force chains.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nadimi S, Fonseca J, Ando E, Viggiani G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Géotechnique

Year: 2019

Volume: 70

Issue: 10

Pages: 931-936

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 14/09/2019

Acceptance date: 20/08/2019

Date deposited: 06/09/2019

ISSN (print): 0016-8505

ISSN (electronic): 1751-7656

Publisher: I C E Publishing


DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.18.t.030


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