Micromechanics of seismic wave propagation in granular materials

J. O’Donovan, E. Ibraim*, C. O’Sullivan, S. Hamlin, D. Muir Wood, G. Marketos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
430 Downloads (Pure)


In this study experimental data on a model soil in a cubical cell are compared with both discrete element (DEM) simulations and continuum analyses. The experiments and simulations used point source transmitters and receivers to evaluate the shear and compression wave velocities of the samples, from which some of the elastic moduli can be deduced. Complex responses to perturbations generated by the bender/extender piezoceramic elements in the experiments were compared to those found by the controlled movement of the particles in the DEM simulations. The generally satisfactory agreement between experimental observations and DEM simulations can be seen as a validation and support the use of DEM to investigate the influence of grain interaction on wave propagation. Frequency domain analyses that considered filtering of the higher frequency components of the inserted signal, the ratio of the input and received signals in the frequency domain and sample resonance provided useful insight into the system response. Frequency domain analysis and analytical continuum solutions for cube vibration show that the testing configuration excited some, but not all, of the system’s resonant frequencies. The particle scale data available from DEM enabled analysis of the energy dissipation during propagation of the wave. Frequency domain analysis at the particle scale revealed that the higher frequency content reduces with increasing distance from the point of excitation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Number of pages18
JournalGranular Matter
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Wave propagation
  • Granular media
  • DEM
  • Laboratory test
  • Bender element


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