Combined spheropolyhedral discrete element (DE)–finite element (FE) computational modeling of vertical plate loading on cohesionless soil

B. Zhang, C. T. Senseney, R. Regueiro, Z. Duan
Acta Geotechnica
angular particles, DE–FE coupling, Finite element method, lightweight deflectometer

This paper presents a combined spheropolyhedral discrete element (DE)–finite element (FE) computational approach to simulating vertical plate loading on cohesionless soils such as gravels. The gravel particles are modeled as discrete elements, and the plate is modeled as a deformable FE continuum.

The simulations provide a meaningful step toward better understanding how deformable bodies transmit loads to granular materials. The DE–FE contact algorithm is verified through comparison with an analytical solution for impact between two symmetric bars. A parametric study is conducted to ensure boundary effects are not significantly influencing the simulations.

Numerical simulations are compared to experimental test results of lightweight deflectometer loading on a gravel base course with satisfactory agreement. Future developments of the approach intend to simulate wheel loading of military aircraft on unsurfaced airfields.

Keywords: angular particles, DE–FE coupling, finite element method, lightweight deflectometer.

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