Modeling Granular Crushing In Ring Shear Tests: Experimental And Numerical Analyses
A fault consists of a zone of heavily fragmented granular rock (gouge), which is confined between two rough walls made of fractured rock. The granular gouge is the result of previous fracturing of the wall rock by the combined effect of compressive and shear stresses. Through time, the granular fault gouge will experience various episodes of further fragmentation (crushing) as a result of the mobilization by shear of the fault walls. The evolution of crushing in a simulated gouge material was studied using laboratory ring shear tests and DEM ring shear simulations. The laboratory ring shear tests were developed using sugar as a weak granular material. It was found that the residual friction coefficient of this material maintained a constant value regardless of the severe degradation of the particles. This degradation was induced by increasing the angular deformation or increasing the applied vertical stress. Moreover, it was found that the grain size distribution of the original uniform material evolved toward a fractal distribution of sizes. The results from the DEM simulations confirmed those from the laboratory tests and provided also a visualization of the evolution of crushing. Event though originally DEM does not consider particle breakage, this was allowed by replacing particles fulfilling a predefined tensile failure criterion with an equivalent group of smaller particles.
Keywords: Discrete Element Method, Micro Mechanics, Particle Crushing, Ring Shear Test, Strength