DEM modelling of cone penetration tests in a double-porosity crushable granular material

Matteo Oryem Ciantia, Marcos Arroyo, Joanna Butlanska, Antonio Gens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


A three-dimensional discrete element model is used to investigate the effect of grain crushing on the tip resistance measured by cone penetration tests (CPT) in calibration chambers. To do that a discrete analogue of pumice sand, a very crushable microporous granular material, is created. The particles of the discrete model are endowed with size-dependent internal porosity and crushing resistance. A simplified Hertz-Mindlin elasto-frictional model is used for contact interaction. The model has 6 material parameters that are calibrated using one oedometer test and analogies with similar geomaterials. The calibration is validated reproducing other element tests. To fill a calibration chamber capable of containing a realistic sized CPT the discrete analogue is up-scaled by a factor of 25. CPT is then performed at two different densities and three different confinement pressures. Cone tip resistance in the crushable material is practically insensitive to initial density, as had been observed in previous physical experiments. The same CPT series is repeated but now particle crushing is disabled. The ratios of cone tip resistance between the two types of simulation are in good agreement with previous experimental comparisons of hard and crushable soils. Microscale exploration of the models indicates that crushing disrupts the buttressing effect of chamber walls on the cone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Early online date22 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Cone penetration
  • Discrete element method
  • Double porosity
  • Particle crushing
  • Pumice sand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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