Role of particle rotation in sheared granular media

Usman Ali, Mamoru Kikumoto (Lead / Corresponding author), Ying Cui, Matteo Ciantia, Marco Previtali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


When granular assemblies are subject to external loads or displacements, particles interact with each other through contact and may exhibit translations and rotations. From a micromechanical perspective, particle rotations are an essential mechanism influencing the macroscopic behavior of granular materials. In this study, biaxial shearing tests were conducted on assemblies of dual-sized circular particles at different confining pressures. A high-precision image analysis method was developed to extract the particle-level motion of all the particles, including the rotational behavior. Experimental results showed that most of the particles exhibited rotations. Particles within the shear band exhibited more significant rotations and were characterized by low connectivity (number of contacts per particle). In contrast, the particles outside the shear band rotated lesser, only in the beginning stage of shearing. Every rotation in either direction is accompanied by an opposite rotation of almost the same magnitude in the neighboring region, and rotation clusters have been observed. Rotations in both directions are normally distributed within the assembly, and the average particle rotation is zero. The average rotations in both directions evolve symmetrically with major principal strain. Generally, the rotation rate (degrees per incremental strain) is observed to be maximum at the start of the shearing, and gradually it becomes constant toward the end of the shearing. The average value of the absolute cumulative rotation observed for whole particles is 18.6° at the end of shearing, i.e., 20% deviatoric strain. Smaller size particles tend to exhibit 67% higher rotations than bigger particles. Confining pressures have no significant effect on the rotational behavior of circular particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4599-4614
Number of pages16
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number9
Early online date20 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Biaxial shearing
  • Granular material
  • Image analysis
  • Microscopic mechanism
  • Particle rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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