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The influence of particle geometry and the intermediate stress ratio on the shear behavior of granular materials

  The behavior of granular materials is very complex in nature and depends on particle shape, stress path, fabric, density, particle size distribution, amongst others. This paper presents a study of the effect of particle geometry (aspect ratio) on the mechanical behaviour of granular materials using the Discrete Element Method (DEM). This study discusses 3D DEM simulations of conventional triaxial and true triaxial tests. The numerical experiments employ samples with different particle aspect ratios and a unique particle size distribution (PSD). Test results show that both particle aspect ratio (AR) and intermediate stress ratio (b=(σ2'-σ3')/(σ1'-σ3')) affect the macro-and micro-scale responses. At the macro-scale, the shear strength decreases with an increase in both aspect ratio and intermediate stress ratio b values. At the micro-scale level, the fabric evolution is also affected by both AR and b. The results from DEM analyses qualitatively agree with available experimental data. The critical state behaviour and failure states are also discussed. It is observed that the position of the critical state loci in the compression (e-p') space is only slightly affected by aspect ratio (AR) while the critical stress ratio is dependent on both AR and b. It is also demonstrated that the influence of the aspect ratio and the intermediate stress can be captured by micro-scale fabric evolutions that can be well understood within the framework of existing critical state theories. It is also found that for a given stress path, a unique critical state fabric norm is dependent on the particle shape but is independent of critical state void ratio.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    13 April 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    620 Engineering and allied operations

  • Funders:

    Royal Academy of Engineering


Xie, Y. H., Yang, Z. X., Barreto, D. & Jiang, M. D. (2017). The influence of particle geometry and the intermediate stress ratio on the shear behavior of granular materials. Granular Matter. 19(2), 34-48. doi:10.1007/s10035-017-0723-8. ISSN 1434-5021



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granular material; particle geometry; discrete element method; intermediate stress ratio; critical state; fabric evolution

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