Granular Matter

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 531–542 | Cite as

Strength of non-spherical particles with anisotropic geometries under triaxial and shearing loading configurations

  • S. A. Galindo-Torres
  • D. M. Pedroso
  • D. J. Williams
  • H. B. Mühlhaus
Original Paper


This paper presents a study on the macroscopic shear strength characteristics of granular assemblies with three- dimensional complex-shaped particles. Different assemblies are considered, with both isotropic and anisotropic particle geometries. The study is conducted using the discrete element method (DEM), with so-called sphero-polyhedral particles, and simulations of mechanical true triaxial tests for a range of Lode angles and confining pressures. The observed mathematical failure envelopes are investigated in the Haigh–Westergaard stress space, as well as on the deviatoric-mean pressure plane. It is verified that the DEM with non-spherical particles produces results that are qualitatively similar to experimental data and previous numerical results obtained with spherical elements. The simulations reproduce quite well the shear strength of assemblies of granular media, such as higher strength during compression than during extension. In contrast, by introducing anisotropy at the particle level, the shear strength parameters are greatly affected, and an isotropic failure criterion is no longer valid. It is observed that the strength of the anisotropic assembly depends on the direction of loading, as observed for real soils. Finally simulations on a virtual shearing test show how the velocity profile within the shear band is also affected by the grain’s shape.


Complex shaped grains Failure criteria Discrete element method 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP0985662 The influence of particle shape on 3D Hopper flow.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. A. Galindo-Torres
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. M. Pedroso
    • 2
  • D. J. Williams
    • 2
  • H. B. Mühlhaus
    • 3
  1. 1.National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Civil EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Geotechnical Engineering Centre, School of Civil EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Earth System Science Computational CentreThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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