Calibration of Micro-Parameters of a Mortar Cylinder Specimen under Simple Compression Using a 2D Discrete Element Model Academic Article uri icon


  • Masonry systems have been used extensively in historical, commercial, and residential buildings. A large number of experimental and computational studies have been conducted to investigate the behavior of masonry components and systems, including mortar, units (e.g., blocks), and walls. The Discrete Element Method (DEM) has been used to analyze masonry systems with a macro modeling methodology (i.e., structural systems like walls). Masonry systems and their components have not been analyzed using a micro-modeling methodology with the DEM. The objective of this paper is the deterministic calibration of micro-parameters of the mortar cylinder model based on a computationally efficient DEM model. To achieve this objective, a parametric analysis is introduced through a series of models of a mortar specimen tested under simple compression to explore the impact of the model micro-parameters when trying to reproduce a set of experimental observations conducted at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan Mexico (UADY). A calibration process based on optimization is implemented to determine the best estimates of the models micro-parameters. This paper is divided into three analyses. First, the particle size distribution of the mortars aggregate is used as a reference (i.e., scale 1), and then up-scaled 1.5 and two times using four particle sizes; second, using the two-times scaled particle size, the influence of varying particle sizes within a reference particle size distribution was explored (from one particle size to 4 particle sizes following the aggregate particle size distribution); and third, a parametric analysis is performed varying seven micro-parameters, one at the time, varying from 0.25 to 1.5, at 0.25 scale increments, on a model including four particle sizes. The results show micro-parameters and stress-strain curves of mortar for the different analyses, and a representation of the cross sections of the models, indicating the distributions of contact forces. All proposed models showed good agreement with the experimental observations (i.e., stress-strain curve). Also, it was observed from the proposed analyses that some micro-parameters vary as the particle size and the scaled particle size distributions change when using the same experimental stress-strain curve. Also, it was found that the proposed DEM must contain at least two particle sizes to significantly improve the particle interlocking to ensure that the mechanistic behavior reproduces the same experimental observations. Finally, from the results presented in this work, it is concluded that it is possible to produce a computationally efficient model that can later serve as a reference for future research accounting for other control variables such as particle shape, particle size distributions, the exploration of damage propagation effects, and most importantly their corresponding uncertainty quantification and propagation effects in masonry systems.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ortiz-Cahun, M., Fernandez-Baqueiro, L., & Medina-Cetina, Z.

complete list of authors

  • Ortiz-Cahun, Miguel||Fernandez-Baqueiro, Luis||Medina-Cetina, Zenon

publication date

  • 2023