DEM Study of Shear Band Formation in Granular Materials under True Triaxial Test Conditions

Document Type : Research Papers


1 M.Sc. Student, School of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, (Currently Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Maritime and Transport Technology, Faculty of 3ME, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands).

2 Professor, School of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Subjected to external loads, granular materials experience severe deformation in a narrow zone before their failure. This phenomenon, which is called strain localisation or shear band, is of vital importance in assessing the stability of the geotechnical structure, studying the stress-strain behaviour of soil and rock materials, and analysing the interaction of soil and structure. The present study is aimed to investigate the effect of various factors on the pattern and inclination of shear band in a general three-dimensional condition of stress using the Discrete Element Method (DEM). Several tests were simulated using a developed version of the TRUBAL program called GRANULE. The GRANULE code was further developed to add the capability of carrying out simulations with different intermediate principal stresses and modelling specimens containing non-spherical particles. The shear band was detected by tracking the motion of the particles and plotting the rotation distribution of particles within the sample. The results prove that the shear band inclination and its pattern, are greatly affected by intermediate principal stress, particle shape, and confining stress. Moreover, it was observed that the change in the b value plays a key role in the alteration of the 3D configuration of the shear band.


Alipour, M.J. and Lashkari, A. (2018). "Sand instability under constant shear drained stress path", International Journal of Solids and Structures, 150, 66-82.
Andrade, J.E., Chen, Q., Le, P.H., Avila, C.F. and Evans, T.M. (2012). "On the rheology of dilative granular media: Bridging solid-and fluid-like behavior", Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 60(6), 1122-1136.
Angelidakis, V., Nadimi, S., Otsubo, M. and Utili, S. (2021a). "CLUMP: A Code Library to generate Universal Multi-sphere Particles", SoftwareX, 15, 100735.
Angelidakis, V., Nadimi, S. and Utili, S. (2021b). "SHape Analyser for Particle Engineering (SHAPE): Seamless characterisation and simplification of particle morphology from imaging data", Computer Physics Communications, 265, 107983.
Bardet, J.-P. and Proubet, J. (1991). "A numerical investigation of the structure of persistent shear bands in granular media", Geotechnique, 41(4), 599-613.
Bayesteh, H. and Hoseini, A. (2021). "Effect of mechanical and electro-chemical contacts on the particle orientation of clay minerals during swelling and sedimentation: A DEM simulation", Computers and Geotechnics, 130,  103913.
Chantawarangul, K. (1994). "Numerical simulations of three-dimensional granular assemblies", PhD Thesis, University of Waterloo.
Cundall, P.A. (1989). "Evolution of elastic moduli in a deforming granular assembly", S ELECTE, 59.
Cundall, P.A. and Strack, O.D.L. (1979). "A discrete numerical model for granular assemblies", Geotechnique, 29(1), 47-65.
Danesh, A., Mirghasemi, A. A. and Palassi, M. (2020). "Evaluation of particle shape on direct shear mechanical behavior of ballast assembly using discrete element method (DEM)", Transportation Geotechnics, 100357.
Desrues, J. and Viggiani, G. (2004). "Strain localization in sand: an overview of the experimental results obtained in Grenoble using stereophotogrammetry", International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, 28(4), 279-321.
Fransen, M.P., Langelaar, M. and Schott, D.L. (2021). "Application of DEM-based metamodels in bulk handling equipment design: Methodology and DEM case study", Powder Technology, 393, 205-218.
Garcia, F.E. and Bray, J.D. (2019). "Modeling the shear response of granular materials with discrete element assemblages of sphere-clusters", Computers and Geotechnics, 106, 99-107.
Ghassemi, A. and Shahebrahimi, S.S. (2020). "Discrete Element Modeling of Dynamic Compaction with Different Tamping Condition", Civil Engineering Infrastructures Journal, 53(1), 173-188.
Gu, X., Huang, M. and Qian, J. (2014). "Discrete element modeling of shear band in granular materials", Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics, 72, 37-49.
Hajiazizi, M. and Nasiri, M. (2019). "Experimental and numerical investigation of reinforced sand slope using geogird encased stone column", Civil Engineering Infrastructures Journal, 52(1), 85-100.
Han, C. and Drescher, A. (1993). "Shear bands in biaxial tests on dry coarse sand", Soils and Foundations, 33(1), 118-132.
Iwashita, K. and Oda, M. (1998). "Rolling resistance at contacts in simulation of shear band development by DEM", Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 124(3), 285-292.
Jaradat, K.A. and Abdelaziz, S.L. (2019). "On the use of discrete element method for multi-scale assessment of clay behavior", Computers and Geotechnics, 112, 329-341.
Jiang, M., Zhu, H. and Li, X. (2010). "Strain localization analyses of idealized sands in biaxial tests by distinct element method", Frontiers of Architecture and Civil Engineering in China, 4(2), 208-222.
Khabazian, M., Mirghasemi, A.A. and Bayesteh, H. (2020). "Discrete-element simulation of drying effect on the volume and equivalent effective stress of kaolinite", Géotechnique, 1-13.
Kildashti, K., Dong, K., Samali, B., Zheng, Q. and Yu, A. (2018). "Evaluation of contact force models for discrete modelling of ellipsoidal particles", Chemical Engineering Science, 177, 1-17.
Kolymbas, D. and Wu, W. (1990). "Recent results of triaxial tests with granular materials", Powder Technology, 60(2), 99-119.
Krumbein, W.C. (1941). "Measurement and geological significance of shape and roundness of sedimentary particles", Journal of Sedimentary Research, 11(2), 64-72.
Lade, P.V (1978). "Cubical triaxial apparatus for soil testing", Geotechnical Testing Journal, 1(2), 93-101.
Lade, P.V and Wang, Q. (2001). "Analysis of shear banding in true triaxial tests on sand", Journal of engineering mechanics, 127(8), 762-768.
Lashkari, A., Khodadadi, M., Binesh, S.M. and Rahman. M. M. (2019). "Instability of particulate assemblies under constant shear drained stress path: DEM approach", International Journal of Geomechanics, 19(6), 4019049.
Lashkari, A. and Jamali, V. (2021). "Global and local sand–geosynthetic interface behaviour", Géotechnique, 71(4), 346-367.
Mohajeri, M., van Rhee, C. and Schott, D.L. (2018). "Penetration resistance of cohesive iron ore: A DEM study", In 9th International Conference on Conveying and Handling of Particulate Solids, London.
Mukherjee, M., Gupta, A. and Prashant, A. (2017). "Instability analysis of sand under undrained biaxial loading with rigid and flexible boundary", International Journal of Geomechanics, 17(1), 4016042.
Nadimi, S., Ghanbarzadeh, A., Neville, A. and Ghadiri, M. (2019). "Effect of particle roughness on the bulk deformation using coupled boundary element and discrete element methods", Computational Particle Mechanics, 1-11.
Ng, T.-T. (2006). "Input parameters of discrete element methods", Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 132(7), 723-729.
O’Sullivan, C. (2011). Particulate discrete element modelling: A geomechanics perspective, CRC Press, London.
Ochiai, H. and Lade, P.V (1983). "Three-dimensional behavior of sand with anisotropic fabric", Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 109(10), 1313-1328.
Rodriguez, N.M. and Lade, P.V (2013). "True triaxial tests on cross-anisotropic deposits of fine Nevada sand", International Journal of Geomechanics, 13(6), 779-793.
Rudnicki, J.W. and Rice, J.R. (1975). "Conditions for the localization of deformation in pressure-sensitive dilatant materials", Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 23(6), 371-394.
Salimi, M.J. and Lashkari, A. (2020). "Undrained true triaxial response of initially anisotropic particulate assemblies using CFM-DEM", Computers and Geotechnics, 124, 103509.
Shamsi, M.M.M. and Mirghasemi, A.A. (2012). "Numerical simulation of 3D semi-real-shaped granular particle assembly", Powder Technology, 221, 431-446.
Sukumaran, B. and Ashmawy, A.K. (2001). "Quantitative characterisation of the geometry of discret particles", Geotechnique, 51(7), 619-627.
Tang, H., Dong, Y., Wang, T. and Dong, Y. (2019). "Simulation of strain localization with discrete element-Cosserat continuum finite element two scale method for granular materials", Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 122, 450-471.
Thornton, C. (2000). "Numerical simulations of deviatoric shear deformation of granular media", Géotechnique, 50(1), 43-53.
Tian, J., Liu, E. and He, C. (2020). "Shear band analysis of granular materials considering effects of particle shape", Acta Mechanica, 231(11), 4445-4461.
Vardoulakis, I. (1989). "Shear-banding and liquefaction in granular materials on the basis of a Cosserat continuum theory", Ingenieur-Archiv, 59(2), 106-113.
Wang, P., Sang, Y., Shao, L. and Guo, X. (2019). "Measurement of the deformation of sand in a plane strain compression experiment using incremental digital image correlation", Acta Geotechnica, 14(2), 547-557.
Wang, Q. and Lade, P.V (2001). "Shear banding in true triaxial tests and its effect on failure in sand", Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 127(8), 754-761.
Yan, Y., Zhao, J. and Ji, S. (2015). "Discrete element analysis of breakage of irregularly shaped railway ballast", Geomechanics and Geoengineering, 10(1), 1-9.
Yu, J., Jia, C., Xu, W., Zhang, Q. and Wu, C.J. (2021). "Granular discrete element simulation of the evolution characteristics of the shear band in soil–rock mixture based on particle rotation analysis", Environmental Earth Sciences, 80(6), 1-14.
Zhao, S. and Zhao, J. (2021). "SudoDEM: Unleashing the predictive power of the discrete element method on simulation for non-spherical granular particles", Computer Physics Communications, 259, 107670.
Volume 55, Issue 2
December 2022
Pages 373-394
  • Receive Date: 19 July 2021
  • Revise Date: 14 November 2021
  • Accept Date: 04 December 2021
  • First Publish Date: 09 July 2022