Improving constant-volume simulations of undrained behaviour in DEM

Joel Keishing, Kevin J. Hanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to simulate undrained conditions using the discrete element method, a constant sample volume is often assumed. There are well-recognised problems with these constant-volume triaxial simulations, particularly of dense samples, which inhibit quantitative comparison with laboratory experiments. In this paper, four possible explanations for these problems with conventional constant-volume simulations of ideal spherical particles are explored, each of which has a physical basis: particle crushing, the presence of highly compressible air within the sample, or the reduction of stiffness due to particle surface asperities or non-spherical particle shapes. These options are explored independently and in combination through implementation in the open-source LAMMPS code. In situations where a significant amount of particle crushing occurs, it is important to incorporate this in the simulations so that stresses are not over-estimated. There is experimental evidence that irregular particles have lower Young’s moduli than the Hertzian spheres often used in DEM. In the absence of particle crushing, the most effective method to achieve more realistic stress–strain responses is to reduce the particle shear modulus substantially. This approach has the added computational benefit of enabling an increase in the simulation time-step.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa geotechnica
Early online date6 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Mar 2020


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