Volume Contraction in Shallow Sediments: Discrete Element Simulation

Displacements induced by mineral dissolution and subsurface volume contraction affect overlying soils. In this study, we examine the consequences of mass loss or volume contraction at shallow depths using a discrete element method. The goal of the study is to identify particle-scale and global effects as a function of the relative depth of a dissolving inclusion, initial soil density, and granular interlocking. There are successive arch formation and collapse events, and a porosity front propagates upwards as grains slide down to refill the space. Grains around and within the refilled cavity are loosely packed and have small contact forces that are sufficient to avert the buckling of granular arches that form around the dissolving zone. Denser packings and interlocking combine to exacerbate rotational frustration and lead to more pronounced force chains along granular arches, looser fill, and reduced surface settlement. In fact, surface settlement vanishes, and the sediment hides the localized dissolution when deep inclusions z/D ≥ 5 dissolve within dense sediments. While scaling relations limit the extrapolation of these numerical results to tunneling and mining applications, macroscale trends observed in the field resemble results gathered in this study.

Cha, M., & Santamarina, J. C. (2022). Volume Contraction in Shallow Sediments: Discrete Element Simulation. Applied Sciences, 12(16), 8015. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12168015

Gabrielle E. Abelskamp edited the manuscript. Support for this research was provided by the KAUST endowment and the US Department of Energy Savannah River Operations Office. This research was also supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2019R1A6A1A10072987).


Applied Sciences


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