A Caltech Library Service

Tunnel excavation in granular media: the role of force chains

Pal, Raj Kumar and de Macedo, Robert Buraque and Andrade, José E. (2021) Tunnel excavation in granular media: the role of force chains. Granular Matter, 23 (4). Art. No. 76. ISSN 1434-5021. doi:10.1007/s10035-021-01141-2.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We investigate how force chains in a granular packing influence and change during a tunnel excavation process. A two-dimensional (2D) frictional cohensionless packing is considered under gravity and a set of contiguous particles are removed in the interior. Using discrete element simulations on realistic non-spherical soil grains, we investigate the role of force chains in the stability of the resulting tunnel. We illustrate that force disturbance due to excavation is transmitted over considerable distance by force chains. Such force chains behave as one-dimensional (1D) load carrying members, leading to nonlocal influences on tunnel stability as these chains rearrange around tunnels. Based on these observations, we posit the non-existence of a local stability prediction criterion that examines only the set of grains adjacent to the tunnel boundary. Finally, we study the mechanics of transition to the new equilibrium configuration by examining how the various components of force disturbance vary with distance from the tunnel. This work lays the framework for a systematic analysis of granular excavation process by examining how forces applied in the domain interior are transmitted into the granular media.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Pal, Raj Kumar0000-0001-5039-7710
Andrade, José E.0000-0003-3741-0364
Additional Information:© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021. Received 07 April 2020; Accepted 01 July 2021; Published 14 August 2021. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Army Research Office under grants W911NF-17-1-0212 and W911NF-19-1-0245. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Army Research Office (ARO)W911NF-17-1-0212
Army Research Office (ARO)W911NF-19-1-0245
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210930-191255538
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Pal, R.K., de Macedo, R.B. & Andrade, J.E. Tunnel excavation in granular media: the role of force chains. Granular Matter 23, 76 (2021).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:111122
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Oct 2021 20:41
Last Modified:04 Oct 2021 20:58

Repository Staff Only: item control page