Comparison of two numerical approaches (DEM and MPM) applied to unsteady flow

  • Fabio Gracia
  • Pascal Villard
  • Vincent RichefeuEmail author


In order to provide a comprehensive comparison between two current numerical methods employed in the modelling of rock avalanches, the discrete element method (DEM) and the material point method (MPM) were used to simulate the mass propagation along a \(45^{\circ }\) plane transitioning to a horizontal plane. For the DEM simulations, an in-house 3D code whose particles can be modelled as tetrahedral elements was used. Additionally, the flow was canalised using frictionless walls. For the MPM simulations, a 2D code was also developed and employed to run plane strain simulations. Comparisons were made in terms of runout distance, spreading and energy dissipated. Influence of parameters such as initial sample geometry, basal friction coefficient and shape of blocks composing the sample was studied. We found that there are proper correlations between the two methods when the basal friction coefficient has a low value, or when the rolling of the blocks is hindered by using elongated shapes for the blocks. These correlations become less satisfactory as the basal friction coefficient is increased, due to the oversimplified constitutive law employed in MPM.


Discrete element method Material point method Continuum Transitional flow 



This work was supported and funded by IMSRN company (headed by Pierre Plotto) and ANRT (French ministry: Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation).

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Copyright information

© OWZ 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IMSRNMontbonnotFrance
  2. 2.Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble INP, 3SRGrenobleFrance

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