Mechanical behaviour of weak snow layers: modelling a porous structure of sintered grains
1 University Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, 2 Rue de la Papeterie, 38402, Saint-Martin-d’Hères, France
2 Météo France – CNRS, CNRM, CEN, 1441 Rue de la Piscine, 38400 Saint-Martin-d’Hères, France
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Published online: 30 June 2017
Weak layers of snow are thin layers of low density and cohesion that consist of a complex network of sintered ice grains. These layers are very fragile and their collapse is considered to be the primary cause of dry slab snow avalanche release. This study reports on an attempt at modelling the mechanical response of these weak snow layers with discrete element (DEM) simulations, using x-ray tomographical images of real snow samples as input data on the microstructure of the material. An original method for representing irregular grain shapes in the DEM is first introduced. The method is based on utilizing the medial axis concept to represent an arbitrary grain shape with an optimal set of overlapping spheres. A thorough study of the effect of the grain approximating technique parameters on the key geometrical features of the grains is then carried out. Finally, the functionality of the model is demonstrated by performing an oedometric test on an image of a real snow sample.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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