Coupled DEM-CFD Analysis of the Initiation of Internal Instability in a Gap-Graded Granular Embankment Filter
1 Kajima Corporation, Tokyo, Japan
2 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, UK
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Published online: 30 June 2017
Internal instability is a form of internal erosion that can occur in embankment dams or flood embankments where the finer fraction of the material is washed out under the action of seepage flow; if undetected this process can progress to cause embankment collapse. Gap-graded materials are particularly susceptible. Skempton and Brogan  proposed that a key contributor to instability is the reduced stress transmitted by the finer fraction and that the magnitude of this reduced stress could be inferred from the hydraulic gradients observed at the initiation of particle migration in experiments. Here Skempton and Brogan’s hypothesis is assessed at the particle scale using a discrete element method (DEM) model coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This contribution discusses validation of the coupled DEM-CFD software prior to describing the simulation of a permeameter experiment. The simulation generated particlescale data at the initiation of instability by considering a gap-graded sample subject to at a hydraulic gradient of 1.0 (upward flow). The results provide insight into the instability mechanism, most notably showing that while the particles that move under seepage flow do indeed transmit relatively small effective stress, a finite proportion of the particles that move transfer relatively large stresses.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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