Micromechanical study of potential scale effects in small-scale modelling of sinker tree roots

Xingyu Zhang, Matteo Ciantia, Jonathan Knappett (Lead / Corresponding author), Anthony Leung

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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When testing an 1:N geotechnical structure in the centrifuge, it is desirable to choose a large scale factor (N) that can fit the small-scale model in a model container and avoid unwanted boundary effects, however, this in turn may cause scale effects when the structure is overscaled. This is more significant when it comes to small-scale modelling of sinker root-soil interaction, where root-particle size ratio is much lower. In this study the Distinct Element Method (DEM) is used to investigate this problem. The sinker root of a model root system under axial loading was analysed, with both upward and downward behaviour compared with the Finite Element Method (FEM), where the soil is modelled as a continuum in which case particle-size effects are not taken into consideration. Based on the scaling law, with the same prototype scale and particle size distribution, different scale factors/g-levels were applied to quantify effects of the ratio of root diameter (𝑑𝑟) to mean particle size (𝐷50) on the root rootsoil interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th UK Travelling Workshop
Subtitle of host publicationGeoMechanics: from Micro to Macro (GM3), Dundee, 2021
EditorsMatteo Ciantia, Marco Previtali, Malcolm Bolton
Place of PublicationDundee
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameGM3 Travelling Workshop Proceedings


  • Root-soil interaction
  • Distinct Element Method
  • Scale effects


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