Shear strength of angular granular materials with size and shape polydispersity
Open Geomechanics, Volume 4 (2023), article no. 1, 14 p.

Shear strength characterization of coarse granular materials often requires modifying the original material in order to fit samples in standard testing devices. This is done, however, at the expense of changing the particle size distribution (psd), employing scaling-down techniques such as parallel grading or scalping methods. Such procedures hide, nevertheless, another challenge. As a given particle size can present a characteristic grain shape, altering the grain size distribution can strongly modify the distribution of grain shapes. While the effects of grain shape on shear strength have been vastly covered in the literature, the effect of having different shapes along grain sizes has yet to be systematically assessed and understood. This article explores the critical shear strength of samples composed of particles with size-shape correlations using 2D discrete element simulations. Two cases of particle shape variability across grain sizes are studied: (1) the sharpness of grains’ corners - modeled via the number of sides of regular polygons - and (2) the geometric irregularity of grains - where the corners of a polygon are not necessarily evenly spaced. The effects of these geometrical properties on the shear strength are assessed through a series of numerical simple shearing tests up to large levels of deformation. We find that granular materials presenting different number of sides across grain sizes can strongly modify their mechanical response depending on the grain-size correlation. On the contrary, grain shape irregularity turns out not to have a major effect on the critical shear strength. Microstructural analyses allow us to identify how each correlation affects load transmission mechanisms between grains, and the contribution of each grain shape class to the macroscopic shear strength. This work shows that particle sizes are not the only sample descriptor to consider when applying scaling-down techniques. It is equally key to characterize particle shapes across grain sizes to capture the material’s mechanical response adequately.

Published online:
DOI: 10.5802/ogeo.15
Keywords: shear strength, particle shape, polydispersity, discrete-element modeling, grain size distribution
Carrasco, Sergio 1, 2; Cantor, David 1, 2; Ovalle, Carlos 1, 2; Quiroz-Rojo, Paula 1, 2, 3

1 Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, Québec, Canada
2 Research Institute of Mining and Environment (RIME), UQAT-Polytechnique, Québec, Canada
3 LMGC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, Montpellier, France
License: CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Carrasco, Sergio; Cantor, David; Ovalle, Carlos; Quiroz-Rojo, Paula. Shear strength of angular granular materials with size and shape polydispersity. Open Geomechanics, Volume 4 (2023), article  no. 1, 14 p. doi : 10.5802/ogeo.15.

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