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Relationship between electrical conductivity anisotropy and fabric anisotropy in granular materials during drained triaxial compressive tests: a numerical approach

Abstract : The anisotropy of granular media and its evolution during shearing are important aspects required in developing physics-based constitutive models in Earth sciences. The development of relationships between geoelectrical properties and the deformation of porous media has applications to the monitoring of faulting and landslides. However, such relationships are still poorly understood. In this study, we first investigate the definition of the electrical conductivity anisotropy tensor of granular materials in presence of surface conductivity of the grains. Fabric anisotropy is related to the components of the fabric tensor. We define an electrical anisotropy factor based on the Archie's exponent second-order symmetric tensor m of granular materials. We use numerical simulations to confirm a relationship between the evolution of electrical and fabric anisotropy factors during shearing. To realize the simulations, we build a virtual laboratory in which we can easily perform synthetic experiments. We first simulate drained compressive triaxial tests of loose and dense granular materials (porosity 0.45 and 0.38, respectively) using the discrete element method. Then, the electrical conductivity tensor of a set of deformed synthetic samples is computed using the finite-difference method. The numerical results show that shear strains are responsible for a measurable anisotropy in the bulk conductivity of granular media. The observed electrical anisotropy response, during shearing, is distinct for dense and loose synthetic samples. Electrical and fabric anisotropy factors exhibit however a unique linear correlation, regardless of the shear strain and the initial state (porosity) of the synthetic samples. The practical implication of this finding confirms the usefulness of the electrical conductivity method in studying the fabric tensor of granular media. This result opens the door in using time-lapse electrical resistivity to study non-intrusively the evolution of anisotropy of soils and granular rocks during deformation, for instance during landslides, and to use the evolution of the conductivity tensor to monitor mechanical properties.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 3:27:10 PM
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Qifei Niu, André Revil, Zhaofeng Li, Yu-Hsing Wang. Relationship between electrical conductivity anisotropy and fabric anisotropy in granular materials during drained triaxial compressive tests: a numerical approach. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2017, 210, pp.1-17. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggx140⟩. ⟨insu-03596062⟩

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