Quantifying the evolution of soil fabric during shearing using scalar parameters

J. Fonseca, C. O'Sullivan, M. R. Coop, P. D. Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The packing density of a soil is typically described in terms of the scalar parameters void ratio, specific volume or porosity. Within a critical-state soil mechanics framework, the response of a sand is considered to depend on its 'state', that is, the combination of void ratio and effective stress. When soil is considered from a particle-scale perspective, the packing density is often described using the coordination number (CN), that is, the average number of contacts per particle. Using particles with simple geometries, discrete-element method (DEM) simulations, photoelastic tests and experiments on analogue soils (e.g. glass ballotini) have all demonstrated a correlation between CN and mechanical response. This study investigates whether these correlations apply to real soils using direct measurement of the fabric via micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). A variety of scalar fabric descriptors was measured during the triaxial compression of both intact and reconstituted Reigate sand samples. While each of the parameters considered provides useful information, the contact index (CI), a parameter that takes the contact area into account, was found to be a more sensitive metric in assessing the effects of fabric than coordination number, branch vector length or void size.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)818-829
    Number of pages12
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


    • Fabric/structure of soils
    • Laboratory tests
    • Sands


    Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying the evolution of soil fabric during shearing using scalar parameters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this