, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 93-105
Date: 16 Oct 2010

Precursors of failure and weakening in a biaxial test

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Abstract

We study numerical simulations of large ( \({N{\approx}10^4}\) ) two-dimensional quasi-static granular assemblies subjected to a slowly increasing deviator stress. We report some peculiarities in the behavior of these packings that have not yet been addressed. The number of sliding contacts is not necessarily related to stability: first the number of sliding contacts rises linearly and smoothly with the applied stress. Then, at approximately half the peak stress, the increase slows down, a plateau develops, and a decrease follows. The spatial organization of sliding contacts also changes: during the first half of the simulation, sliding contacts are uniformly distributed throughout the packing, but in the second half, they become concentrated in certain regions. This suggests that the loss of homogeneity occurs well before the appearance of shear bands. During the second half events appear where the number of sliding contacts drops suddenly, and then rapidly recovers. We show that these events are in fact local instabilities in the packing. These events become more frequent as failure is approached. For these two reasons, we call these events precursors, since they are similar to the precursors recently observed in both numerical (Staron et al. Phys Rev Lett 89:204302, 2002; Nerone et al. Phys Rev E 67:011302, 2003) and experimental (Gibiat et al. J Acoust Soc Am 123:3142, 2009; Scheller et al. Phys Rev E 74:031311, 2006; Zaitsev et al. Eur Phys Lett 83:64003, 2008; Aguirre et al. Phys Rev E 73:041307, 2006) studies of avalanches.