The behaviour of granular material in pure shear, direct shear and simple shear

  • Ling Zhang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In biaxial compression tests, the stress calculations based on boundary information underestimate the principal stresses leading to a significant overestimation of the shear strength. In direct shear tests, the shear strain becomes highly concentrated in the mid-plane of the sample during the test. Although the stress distribution within the specimen is heterogeneous, the evolution of the stress ratio inside the shear band is similar to that inferred from the boundary force calculations. It is also demonstrated that the dilatancy in the shear band significantly exceeds that implied from the boundary displacements. In simple shear tests, the stresses acting on the wall boundaries do not reflect the internal state of stress but merely provide information about the average mobilised wall friction. It is demonstrated that the results are sensitive to the initial stress state defined by K0 = sh/sv. For all cases, non-coaxiality of the principal stress and strain-rate directions is examined and the corresponding flow rule is identified. Periodic cell simulations have been used to examine biaxial compression for a wide range of initial packing densities. Both constant volume and constant mean stress tests have been simulated. The characteristic behaviour at both the macroscopic and microscopic scales is determined by whether or not the system percolates (enduring connectivity is established in all directions). The transition from non-percolating to percolating systems is characterised by transitional behaviour of internal variables and corresponds to an elastic percolation threshold, which correlates well with the establishment of a mechanical coordination number of ca. 3.0. Strong correlations are found between macroscopic and internal variables at the critical state.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorC. Thornton (Supervisor)


  • granular material
  • pure shear
  • direct shear
  • simple shear

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