The Discrete Element Method has been widely used to simulate geo-materials due to time and scale limitations met in the field and laboratories. While cohesionless geo-materials were the focus of many previous studies, the deformation of cohesive geo-materials in 3D remained poorly characterized. Here, we aimed to generate a range of numerical ‘sediments’, assess their mechanical response to stress and compare their response with laboratory tests, focusing on differences between the micro-and macro-material properties. We simulated two endmembers—clay (cohesive) and sand (cohesionless). The materials were tested in a 3D triaxial numerical setup, under different simulated burial stresses and consolidation states. Variations in particle contact or individual bond strengths generate first order influence on the stress–strain response, i.e., a different deformation style of the numerical sand or clay. Increased burial depth generates a second order influence, elevating peak shear strength. Loose and dense consolidation states generate a third order influence of the endmember level. The results replicate a range of sediment compositions, empirical behaviors and conditions. We propose a procedure to characterize sediments numerically. The numerical ‘sediments’ can be applied to simulate processes in sediments exhibiting variations in strength due to post-seismic consolidation, bioturbation or variations in sedimentation rates.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research received no external funding. Acknowledgments: HE would like to thank Jannis Kuhlmann and Ricarda Gatter for their review and valuable comments. In addition, we thank Adrian Garcia and three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. Use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. government.
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Consolidation state
- Peak shear strength
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Process Chemistry and Technology