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The role of constitutive models in MPM simulations of granular column collapses

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Fern, EJ 
Soga, K 


The granular column collapse is a well-established experiment which consists of having a vertical column of granular material on a flat surface and letting it collapse by gravity. Despite its simplicity in execution, the numerical modelling of a column collapse remains challenging. So far, much attention has been dedicated in assessing the ability of various numerical methods in modelling the large deformation and little to the role of the constitutive model on both the triggering mechanism and the flow behaviour. Furthermore, the influence of the initial density, and its associated dilatancy and strength characteristics, have never been included in the analyses. Most past numerical investigations had relied on simple constitutive relations which do not consider the softening behaviours. The aim of this study is to illustrate the influence of the constitutive model on the on-set of failure, the flow behaviour and the deposition profile using the material point method (MPM). Three constitutive models were used to simulate the collapse of two granular columns with different geometries and for two densities. The results of the simulations showed that the constitutive model had a twofold influence on the collapse behaviour. It defined the volume of the mobilised mass which spread along the flat surface and controlled the dissipation of its energy. The initial density was found to enhance the failure angle and flow behaviours and was more significant for small columns than for larger ones. The analysis of the potential energy of the mobilised mass explained the existence of two collapse regimes.



column collapse, granular flow, material point method, large deformation modelling, constitutive modelling, dilatancy

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Acta Geotechnica

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
This project has received funding from the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no PIAP-GA-2012-324522 and the Swiss National Science Foundation under grant agreement P1SKP2 158621.