Investigation of the effect of particle shape and contact interaction in the rheology of granular materials


The aim of this project is to contribute with the answer of some fundamental questions of granular materials:  What are the constitutive equations for granular materials?,  How does particle roundness and non-convexity affect the bulky properties of granular soils? Can rolling resistance surrogate grain shape in granular materials? These questions are essential in modeling realistic particulate materials and constructing predictive micromechanical continuum models.


Dr Fernando Alonso-Marroquin

Research Location

Civil Engineering

Program Type



Granular materials are ubiquitous in nature and are, behind water, the most manipulated materials in the construction and industry. Within this project we will perform element-test simulations of quasistatic and dynamics flow of granular materials. Using our in-house discrete element model Morphological Dynamics, we investigate at first instance how particle aspect ratio and rolling resistance affect dynamics at the mesoscale: The buckling of force chains (filamentary structure of the stress propagation in granular soils) and its effect on stress fluctuations (tectonic-like behavior of granular materials under shear). This project will involve both discrete/finite element modeling and its ultimate goal is to construct a hybrid discrete/continuum model for geological materials. This project will be developed in the Centre of Geotechnical Research, in collaboration with Prof. Antoinette Tordesillas from the University of Melbourne, and Dr. Hongyuan Liu from Golder Geomechanics Centre, The University of Queensland.

Additional Information

The PhD candidate is expected to have demonstrated skills in numerical modeling and software programming, strong background in physics and mathematics, and be interested in related areas of geo-mechanics.

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Continuum Mechanics, granular materials, discrete element methods

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1091

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