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The influence of inter-particle friction and the intermediate stress ratio on soil response under generalised stress conditions


Previous research studies have used either physical experiments or discrete element method (DEM) simulations to explore, independently, the influence of the coefficient of inter-particle friction (μ) and the intermediate stress ratio (b) on the behaviour of granular materials. DEM simulations and experiments using photoelasticity have shown that when an anisotropic stress condition is applied to a granular material, strong force chains or columns of contacting particles transmitting relatively large forces, form parallel to the major principal stress orientation. The combined effects of friction and the intermediate stress ratio upon the resistance of these strong force chains to collapse (buckling failure) are considered here using data from an extensive set of DEM simulations including triaxial and true triaxial compression tests. For all tests both μ and b affected the macro- and micro-scale response, however the mechanisms whereby the force chain stability was improved differ. While friction clearly enhances the inherent stability of the strong force chains, the intermediate stress ratio affects the contact density and distribution of orthogonal contacts that provide lateral support to the force chains.

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Correspondence to Daniel Barreto.

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Dr. Daniel Barreto: Formerly Imperial College London.

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Barreto, D., O’Sullivan, C. The influence of inter-particle friction and the intermediate stress ratio on soil response under generalised stress conditions. Granular Matter 14, 505–521 (2012).

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  • DEM
  • True triaxial tests
  • Fabric
  • Intermediate stress ratio
  • Inter-particle friction