3D multiscale modeling of strain localization in granular media

J. Zhao, N. Guo
Computers and Geotechnics
3D simulation, Diffuse failure, FEM, Granular media, hierarchical multiscale approach, Strain localization

A hierarchical multiscale modeling approach is used to investigate three-dimensional (3D) strain localization in granular media. Central to the multiscale approach is a hierarchical coupling of finite element method (FEM) and discrete element method (DEM), wherein the FEM is employed to treat a boundary value problem of a granular material and the required constitutive relation for FEM is derived directly from the DEM solution of a granular assembly embedded at each of the FEM Gauss integration points as the representative volume element (RVE). While being effective in reproducing the complex mechanical responses of granular media, the hierarchical approach helps to bypass the necessity of phenomenological constitutive models commonly needed by conventional FEM studies and meanwhile offers a viable way to link the macroscopic observations with their underlying microscopic mechanisms. To model the phenomenon of strain localization, key issues pertaining to the selection of proper RVE packings are first discussed.

The multiscale approach is then applied to simulate the strain localization problem in a cubical specimen and a cylindrical specimen subjected to either conventional triaxial compression (CTC) or conventional triaxial extension (CTE) loading, which is further compared to a case under plane-strain biaxial compression (PBC) loading condition. Different failure patterns, including localized, bulging and diffuse failure modes, are observed and analyzed. Amongst all testing conditions, the PBC condition is found most favorable for the formation of localized failure. The CTC test on the cubical specimen leads to a 3D octopus-shaped localization zone, whereas the cylindrical specimen under CTC shows seemingly bulging failure from the outlook but rather more complex failure patterns within the specimen. The CTE test on a uniform specimen normally ends in a diffuse failure. Different micro mechanisms and controlling factors underlying the various interesting observations are examined and discussed.

Keywords: hierarchical multiscale approach, 3D simulation, strain localization, diffuse failure, FEM, granular media.

Access Full Text