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Distinct element simulations of earthquake fault rupture through materials of varying density

Fernando E. Garcia, & Jonathan Bray

Published August 2018, SCEC Contribution #11681

Surface manifestations of earthquake fault rupture are strongly affected by the dilatant response of the soil deposit overlying the bedrock fault displacement. The granular material’s in-situ void ratio and effective confining stress affect its dilatancy, and hence, its stress-strain response and ductility. Distinct element method (DEM) assemblages of 3D, non-spherical particles are prepared with different void ratio distributions, and their dilatancy is characterized using direct shear test simulations. DEM simulations capture the response of sand in centrifuge experiments of earthquake fault rupture propagation. Macro-scale mechanisms of ground deformation and micro-scale mechanisms of shear band formation during dip-slip fault rupture propagation are analyzed through particle rotations, homogenized strains, frictional dissipation, and particle displacements. The brittle and ductile responses of granular media undergoing fault rupture are related to changes in the coordination numbers in each particle assemblage. The deformational characteristics of a metastable fabric in the loosest particle assemblages and a stable fabric in the densest particle assemblages are revealed through the accumulation of energy dissipated through friction. The normalized strong contact forces are also greater in magnitude in the loosest particle assemblages and greater in number in the densest assemblages.

Key Words
Coordination number; Distinct element method; Dilatancy; Particulate media; Surface fault rupture

Garcia, F. E., & Bray, J. (2018). Distinct element simulations of earthquake fault rupture through materials of varying density. Soils and Foundations, 58(4), 986-1000. doi: 10.1016/j.sandf.2018.05.009.