Mechanical properties of granular materials: A variational approach to grain-scale simulations

R. Holtzman, D.B. Silin, T.W. Patzek

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    The mechanical properties of cohesionless granular materials are evaluated from grain‐scale simulations. A three‐dimensional pack of spherical grains is loaded by incremental displacements of its boundaries. The deformation is described as a sequence of equilibrium configurations. Each configuration is characterized by a minimum of the total potential energy. This minimum is computed using a modification of the conjugate gradient algorithm.

    Our simulations capture the nonlinear, path‐dependent behavior of granular materials observed in experiments. Micromechanical analysis provides valuable insight into phenomena such as hysteresis, strain hardening and stress‐induced anisotropy. Estimates of the effective bulk modulus, obtained with no adjustment of material parameters, are in agreement with published experimental data. The model is applied to evaluate the effects of hydrate dissociation in marine sediments. Weakening of the sediment is quantified as a reduction in the effective elastic moduli.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)391-404
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
    Issue number3
    Early online date22 Jul 2008
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2009

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Holtzman, R, Silin, DB & Patzek, TW 2009, 'Mechanical properties of granular materials: A variational approach to grain-scale simulations', International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 391-404. has been published in final form at
    This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


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