Coupled DEM-SPH Modeling of Saturated Sand

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


DEM (Discrete Element Method) is a particle-based method for modeling the granular materials. SPH (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics) is also a particle-based method to analyze fluids using a limited number of integration points. These mesh-free methods are suitable to analyze geotechnical problems with large deformations or complicated geometries. Coupling DEM and SPH for simulating multi-phase media, resolves the need for the spatial mesh and prepares a more realistic understanding of the saturated granular materials. In this study by coupling both DEM and SPH methods, a novel DEM-SPH model was developed to simulate saturated granular media such as saturated sand. The particles were modeled using DEM and the inter-particle fluid was simulated using SPH. The fluid flow and the particle-fluid interactions were included in the model. The model was validated by comparing the numerical results to experimental data. The evolution of the fluid pressure distribution was investigated. Three phases were observed in fluid pressure distribution. After starting loading, a pressure wave appeared adjacent to the top wall that formed a “transient phase”. After finishing the transient phase, a “stable phase” of the fluid pressure distribution started, during which the pressure gradient changed gradually. There was an “instable phase” at large axial stains. The pressure gradient changed randomly in this phase. The results showed that the model could satisfactorily predict the undrained behavior of the saturated granular materials and capture the local parameters of the inter-particle fluid e.g. the local variations of the fluid pressure.


Main Subjects

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