Modeling of Sand Triaxial Specimens under Compression: Introducing an Elasto-Plastic Finite Element Model to Capture the Impact of Specimens' Heterogeneity Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper follows up on a series of reference papers that inspired MDPIs Topic Stochastic Geomechanics: From Experimentation to Forward Modeling, where global and local deformation effects on sand specimens are fully described from high-resolution boundary displacement fields, as supported by a comprehensive experimental database (which includes varying degrees of specimens heterogeneity) that is available to the scientific community for further study. This paper presents an elasto-plastic comparative analysis of different finite element models reproducing different sand specimen heterogeneity configurations as follows: loose, dense, and half-dense half-loose specimens. The experimental conditions for these specimens heterogeneity configurations were simulated with an axisymmetric finite element model. To characterize the stress-strain response obtained from the experiments, an elasto-plastic constitutive model with strain-hardening and softening laws was adopted to reproduce the sand specimens mechanistic response. An expert-based calibration of the numerical models accounted for both global and local effects by making use of global observations captured by the triaxial point sensors (i.e., axial force and displacement) and by local observations captured by 3D digital image correlation analysis (i.e., 3D boundary displacement fields). Results show that predictions of the proposed numerical models are in good agreement with the experimental observations, both global and local responses. The combined use of global and local observations to calibrate sand triaxial specimens sets the basis for a more comprehensive parameterization process. For the first model set, three experiments were assumed with homogeneous materials. While both dense and loose models showed good agreement with the experiments, the displacement field prediction of the half-dense half-loose layered model identified limitations in reproducing heterogeneous configurations. Afterward, the second set compared and analyzed the half-dense half-loose layered models by implementing a heterogeneous model, showing significantly better model predictions (i.e., after the implementation of the heterogeneous model, which accounts for a transition zone between the upper and lower segments).

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Song, A., Pineda-Contreras, A. R., & Medina-Cetina, Z.

complete list of authors

  • Song, Ahran||Pineda-Contreras, Alma Rosa||Medina-Cetina, Zenon

publication date

  • 2023