A fracture-based discrete model for simulating creep in quartz sands

Jiangtao Lei (Lead / Corresponding author), Marcos Arroyo, Matteo Ciantia, Ningning Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creep of granular soils is frequently accompanied by grain breakage. Stress corrosion driven grain breakage offers a micromechanically based explanation for granular creep. This study incorporates that concept into a new model based on the discrete element method (DEM) to simulate creep in sands. The model aims for conceptual simplicity, computational efficiency and ease of calibration. To this end a new form of normalized Charles power law is incorporated into a DEM model for rough-crushable sands based on the particle splitting technique. The model is implemented using a controlled on-off computational strategy. The model is validated by simulating creep in quartz sands in oedometric and triaxial conditions. Model predictions are shown to compare favourably with experimental results in terms of creep strain, creep strain rates and particle breakage. The model proposed would facilitate the calibration of phenomenological continuum models, but may be also useful to directly investigate structural scale phenomena, such as pile ageing.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date17 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2024


  • Cracks & cracking
  • Creep
  • Discrete-element modelling
  • Particle crushing
  • Time dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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