Exploring the micro-to-macro response of granular soils with real particle shapes via μCT-aided DEM analyses

Yang Li, Masahide Otsubo*, Vasileios Angelidakis, Reiko Kuwano, Sadegh Nadimi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This contribution provides high fidelity images of real granular materials with the aid of X-ray micro computed tomography (μCT), and employs a multi-sphere representation to reconstruct non-spherical particles. Through the discrete element method (DEM) simulations on granular samples composed of these non-spherical clumps, the effect of particle shape on the macroscopic mechanical response and microscopic soil fabric evolution is examined for soil assemblies under triaxial compression. Simulation results indicate that materials with more irregular particles tend to show higher shear resistance in both peak and critical states, while exhibiting higher void ratio under isotropic loading conditions and in the critical state. The proposed critical state parameters for describing the sensitivity of the mean coordination number to confining pressures are larger as particles become more irregular. At a microscopic level of observation, directional and scalar parameters of particle contacts are sensitive to predefined particle asperities. More irregular materials appear to exhibit higher fabric anisotropy regarding particle orientation in the critical state, while branch vector is affected by both contact modes and particle shape. The critical stress ratio from the simulation results is validated by comparing with experimental results, and further found to be linearly linked to the shape-weighted fabric anisotropy indices.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date31 Mar 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 31 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Anisotropy
  • Discrete-element modelling
  • Fabric of soils
  • Particle scale behaviour
  • Shear strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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