Analysis of soil-structural interface behavior using three-dimensional DEM simulations

Xue Ying Jing, Wan Huan Zhou, Hua Xiang Zhu, Zhen Yu Yin, Yangmin Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The shear behavior at the interface between the soil and a structure is investigated at the macroscale and particle-scale levels using a 3-dimensional discrete element method (DEM). The macroscopic mechanical properties and microscopic quantities affected by the normalized interface roughness and the loading parameters are analyzed. The macro-response shows that the shear strength of the interface increases as the normalized roughness of the interface increases, and stress softening and dilatancy of the soil material are observed in the tests that feature rough interfaces. The particle-scale analysis illustrates that a localized band characterized by intense shear deformation emerges from the contact plane and gradually expands as shearing progresses before stabilizing at the residual stress state. The thickness of the localized band is affected by the normalized roughness of the interface and the normal stress, which ranges between 4 and 5 times that of the median grain diameter. A thicker localized band is formed when the soil has a rough shearing interface. After the localized band appears, the granular material structuralizes into 2 regions: the interface zone and the upper zone. The mechanical behavior in the interface zone is representative of the interface according to the local average stress analysis. Certain microscopic quantities in the interface zone are analyzed, including the coordination number and the material fabric. Shear at the interface creates an anisotropic material fabric and leads to the rotation of the major principal stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-357
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • discrete element method
  • fabric anisotropy
  • localized band
  • soil-structural interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials

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