Visualization of Failure and the Associated Grain-Scale Mechanical Behavior of Granular Soils under Shear using Synchrotron X-Ray Micro-Tomography

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60322
Journal / PublicationJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number151
Online published29 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


The rapid development of X-ray imaging techniques with image processing and analysis skills has enabled the acquisition of CT images of granular soils with high-spatial resolutions. Based on such CT images, grain-scale mechanical behavior such as particle kinematics (i.e., particle translations and particle rotations), strain localization and inter-particle contact evolution of granular soils can be quantitatively investigated. However, this is inaccessible using conventional experimental methods. This study demonstrates the exploration of the grain-scale mechanical behavior of a granular soil sample under triaxial compression using synchrotron X-ray micro-tomography (μCT). With this method, a specially fabricated miniature loading apparatus is used to apply confining and axial stresses to the sample during the triaxial test. The apparatus is fitted into a synchrotron X-ray tomography setup so that high-spatial resolution CT images of the sample can be collected at different loading stages of the test without any disturbance to the sample. With the capability of extracting information at the macro scale (e.g., sample boundary stresses and strains from the triaxial apparatus setup) and the grain scale (e.g., grain movements and contact interactions from the CT images), this procedure provides an effective methodology to investigate the multi-scale mechanics of granular soils.

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