A general smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) formulation for coupled liquid flow and solid deformation in porous media

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The method of smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) has been recently developed to study the coupled flow-deformation problems in porous material and considerable success has been achieved comparing to traditional mesh-based method, especially for treating large deformation and post-failure. However, computational challenges remain for the hydro-mechanical boundary treatment as well as the accuracy and stability of the numerical scheme. It is shown that the use of conventional SPH operator for the solution of the coupled problem can lead to several issues including numerical instabilities, inaccuracies and unphysical particle clumping as well as particle disorders near the boundary. To address these issues, a general SPH scheme with enhanced accuracy for saturated/unsaturated porous material is proposed in this paper. An improved SPH formulation for seepage analysis is proposed to allow an accurate prediction of liquid flow in porous material. A new stabilisation technique that combines the use of a density diffusion term, a modified particle shifting algorithm, and a new viscous damping term is developed to further improve the accuracy, stability and robustness of the proposed method. The implementations of stress boundary conditions and hydraulic boundary conditions in SPH, such as confining stress, hydraulic head, infiltration/evaporation, and potential seepage face, using either wall boundary particles or free-surface domain particles, are discussed in detail. A range of benchmark examples is adopted to verify the validity of the present coupled framework. The proposed model is finally applied to simulate the failure process of embankment dam due to rapid drawdown. Results indicate that the methodology proposed herein can be a promising tool for the analysis of the coupled hydro-mechanical process in porous material involving large deformations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116581
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • DualSPHysics
  • Hydro-mechanical coupling
  • Large deformation
  • Seepage flow
  • Smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH)
  • Unsaturated porous materials


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