Micromechanical Investigation of Bonded Granular Geo-Materials

Project: Research

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Naturally occurred or artificially bonded granular geo-materials are encountered in many critical civil, geological and petroleum engineering applications with significant economic, social and environmental impacts locally and internationally. Weakly cemented clastic rocks, weathered rocks/soils, cohesive-frictional geo-materials and cementtreated soils fall within this broad type of geo-materials. There is anecdotal evidence based on research studies by scholars that the complex behavior of geological materials is mainly controlled by the grain interactions. These include contacts between grains and between bonding component-and-grains. Understanding these interactions and quantification of bonded grains behavior is the key to enhance our scientific knowledge and to improve the engineering methods in the safe design and realistic assessment of a broad range of infrastructure. Despite the realization by the scientific community and professional engineers on the need to enhance our understanding of bonded geomaterials behavior at the small scale, i.e. grain-bond-grain interactions, and the significant progress in recent years of numerical methods in the study of geo-materials such as the discrete element method (DEM), there has been little progress in proper experimentation development which would allow observation and quantification of the grain-scale behavior of bonded soils. This has been partly attributed to the relatively slow progress in micromechanical experimentation in the study of geological materials’ interfaces. Recent achievements by researchers, including the proper development of such experimental and scientific methods, provided insights into the micro-mechanical behavior of geological materials. Yet, most of these recent achievements have focused on unbonded grain interfaces and there has been little work investigating the behavior of the broad range of bonded granular geo-materials at the small (or micro) scale.This project aims to enhance our understanding of the complex behavior of bonded granular geo-materials at the grain scale and to develop a novel research in the micromechanical study of these complex geo-materials. This will be achieved through an innovative and comprehensive laboratory study using existing and newly developed cutting-edge facilities which will allow the quantification of bond-soil grain contact behavior. The project will integrate additional research methods, such as element (macro) testing, advanced scanning techniques and numerical analyses linking the micromechanical behavior of bonded grain contacts to the overall macro-scale behavior of geo-materials, to establish a rigorous multi-scale discovery. The outcomes from the project will put an important original contribution to the state-of-the-art research associated with the mechanical behavior of bonded granular geo-materials, enhancing our predictive and designing approaches for critical infrastructure design and assessment.


Project number9042664
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …