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Numerical simulation of shrinkage and cracks in clayey soils on drying paths

Abstract : Clay soil is widely distributed on the Earth’s surface, and because it is cheap and readily available, clay soil has been widely used as a building material for a very long history. Furthermore, clay can be used as not only a natural barrier in the dam cores, but also a matrix for the storage of radioactive wastes because of its retention properties. The mechanical behavior of clay materials is complex, one of the difficulties is that it is sensitive to water. During the desiccation process, clay soils undergo shrinkage, which can cause cracking. The aim of this thesis is, initially, to develop a numerical approach capable of reproducing the phenomenon of shrinkage, the distribution of water content as well as that of suction. In a second step, based on Coussy's theory for unsaturated porous media, and the mechanics of unsaturated soils, a constitutive law will be proposed to describe the behavior observed during desiccation. Finally, to reproduce the cracks distribution, based on the extended finite element method (X-FEM). The realization of numerical simulation is based on the analysis of the desiccation experiments of clay soils in laboratory. The application of the digital image correlation (DIC) technology in the desiccation experiments makes the study on the desiccation process in clay soils more accurate. The experimental results show that the clay soils will generate the theoretical shrinkage deformation caused by its own water loss in the drying path. This deformation in simulation can be related to the water content of clays through the Fredlund function. The desiccation shrinkage of clay soils has an anisotropic phenomenon. The coefficient of shrinkage ratio is used to describe this phenomenon in simulation. One of the ways to construct the constitutive of the initially saturated soft clays during drying could be in using two independent stress tensors which will enable the decomposition of total strain tensor into strain tensor due to drying shrinkage (induced part due to suction variation) and a “mechanical” strain tensor due to the total stress variation. Mechanical strain tensor can be related to total stress by using stiffness matrix. In fact, the initially saturated clay soil resistance increases during desiccation. The result of cracking in the soil under controlled suction is the result of competitions between increased soil resistance and damage caused by shrinkage during desiccation. The soil moisture crack initiation criterion will be based on soil damage and resistance. The criterion of crack propagation, meanwhile, will be based on the theory of conservation of energy. To reproduce the cracks distribution, based on X-FEM. Weibull's law will be used to consider the heterogeneous distribution of the soil. After digital model validation, applications in the geotechnical field are then considered.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 12:00:49 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 3:26:28 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-03229853, version 1


Wenqing Cheng. Numerical simulation of shrinkage and cracks in clayey soils on drying paths. Civil Engineering. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0210⟩. ⟨tel-03229853⟩



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