Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 443–460 | Cite as

Effects of confining pressure and loading path on deformation and strength of cohesive granular materials: a three-dimensional DEM analysis

  • Yulong Zhang
  • Jianfu ShaoEmail author
  • Zaobao Liu
  • Chong Shi
  • Géry De Saxcé
Research Paper


This paper is devoted to numerical analysis of strength and deformation of cohesive granular materials. The emphasis is put on the study of effects of confining pressure and loading path. To this end, the three-dimensional discrete element method is used. A nonlinear failure criterion for inter-granular interface bonding is proposed, and it is able to account for both tensile and shear failure for a large range of normal stress. This criterion is implemented in the particles flow code. The proposed failure model is calibrated from triaxial compression tests performed on representative sandstone. Numerical results are in good agreement with experimental data. In particular, the effect of confining pressure on compressive strength and failure pattern is well described by the proposed model. Furthermore, numerical predictions are studied, respectively, for compression and extension tests with a constant mean stress. It is shown that the failure strength and deformation process are clearly affected by loading path. Finally, a series of numerical simulations are performed on cubic samples with three independent principal stresses. It is found that the strength and failure mode are strongly influenced by the intermediate principal stress.


Bonded contact model Cohesive granular materials Contact interface Discrete element method (DEM) Loading path Sandstone 



The work is jointly supported by the lxNational Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (Grant 2015CB057903) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 51309089).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ministry of Education for Geomechanics and Embankment EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Mechanics of LilleUniversity of LilleVilleneuve d’AscqFrance

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