Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 795–814 | Cite as

Suffusion-induced deformation and microstructural change of granular soils: a coupled CFD–DEM study

  • Zheng Hu
  • Yida ZhangEmail author
  • Zhongxuan Yang
Research Paper


Behaviour of granular soils subjected to internal erosion involves complex coupling between solid–fluid interaction, skeleton deformation and microstructural evolutions. This paper presents a micro–macro investigation on suffusion in idealized gap-graded and well-graded soils using the coupled computational fluid dynamics and discrete element method. The interaction between soil particles and seepage flow is modelled via momentum exchange between two phases. The progressive loss of fine particles subjected to upward seepage flow at various hydraulic gradients is investigated. The fines content, volumetric contraction and void ratio are monitored to identify the changes of macroscopic states of the soil skeleton. In addition, the microstructural evolution is tracked via particle-scale descriptors such as coordination numbers and force chain statistics. Several clogging–unclogging events which are responsible for the sudden changes of fines content and skeleton response are observed during suffusion. A parametric study indicates that the initial fines content and the hydraulic gradient significantly affect the kinetics of suffusion. Microstructural analyses reveal that the removal of fines is accompanied by the reduction in weak contact pairs and particles with low connectivity.


Granular material Internal erosion Seepage flow Solid–fluid interaction Suffusion 



Z. Yang wishes to thank the support of the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2016YFC0800200) and Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51825803 and 51578499). Y. Zhang wishes to thank the support of the University of Colorado Boulder through the startup funding. Z. Hu wishes to thank the support of China Scholarship Council (No. 201706320093) and the Academic New-star Program of Zhejiang University (No. 2018031).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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