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Quantitative analysis of the erosion process in horizontal cobble and gravel embankment piping via CFD-DEM coupling method

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Abstract

It is often the case that the increase in hydraulic gradient and seepage in the embankment causes piping phenomena and thus threatens the safety of geotechnical structures. Many studies have focused on this phenomenon and developed many formulas to predict piping erosion, but their understanding of the micromechanics involved in piping erosion is limited and the applicability of these formulas to cobble and gravel embankments remains a mystery. In this paper, the authors apply a numerical method coupled with computational fluid dynamics and discrete element methods (CFD-DEM) to analyze the changes in microscopic and macroscopic characteristics of horizontal cobble and gravel embankments under increasing hydraulic gradients, and to analyze the applicability of Schmertmann's piping prediction formula. It was found that the increasing hydraulic gradient prompted the contact force of the particles within the embankment and the redistribution of the hydraulic force; in the embankment damage occurred at the moment of the piping, the total contact number of particles and the mass escape rate has changed significantly; Schmertmann proposed piping prediction formula for completely uniform cobble and gravel embankment in the piping prediction effect is not accurate, but with the increase in the soil coefficient of uniformity (Cu), its prediction effect gradually becomes better. This paper explains the link between microscopic mechanisms and the macroscopic phenomenon of piping erosion in horizontal cobble and gravel embankment.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51639007 and 52239006).

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Correspondence to Xie-kang Wang.

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Nie, Yp., Sun, Dy. & Wang, Xk. Quantitative analysis of the erosion process in horizontal cobble and gravel embankment piping via CFD-DEM coupling method. J Braz. Soc. Mech. Sci. Eng. 44, 610 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40430-022-03922-z

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