Micromechanical inspection of incremental behaviour of crushable soils

Matteo Ciantia (Lead / Corresponding author), Marcos Arroyo, Catherine O'Sullivan, Antonio Gens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


In granular soils grain crushing reduces dilatancy and stress obliquity enhances crushability. These are well-supported specimen-scale experimental observations. In principle, those observations should reflect some peculiar micromechanism associated with crushing, but which is it? To answer that question the nature of crushing-induced particle-scale interactions is here investigated using an efficient DEM model of crushable soil. Microstructural measures such as the mechanical coordination number and fabric are examined while performing systematic stress probing on the triaxial plane. Numerical techniques such as parallel and the newly introduced sequential probing enable clear separation of the micromechanical mechanisms associated with crushing. Particle crushing is shown to reduce fabric anisotropy during incremental loading and to slow fabric change during continuous shearing. On the other hand, increased fabric anisotropy does take more particles closer to breakage. Shear-enhanced breakage appears then to be a natural consequence of shear-enhanced fabric anisotropy. The particle crushing model employed here makes crushing dependent only on particle and contact properties, without any pre-established influence of particle connectivity. That influence does not emerge, and it is shown how particle connectivity, per se, is not a good indicator of crushing likelihood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1337-1356
Number of pages20
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number5
Early online date6 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Crushing
  • Distinct element method
  • Granular materials
  • Incremental non linearity
  • Micro-mechanisms
  • Response envelope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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