A coupled hydro-mechanical model for subsurface erosion with analyses of soil piping and void formation

Irene C. Scheperboer, Akke S.J. Suiker (Corresponding author), Emanuela Bosco, François H.L.R. Clemens

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A coupled hydro-mechanical erosion model is presented that is used for studying soil piping and erosion void formation under practical, in-situ conditions. The continuum model treats the soil as a two-phase porous medium composed of a solid phase and a liquid phase, and accounts for its elasto-plastic deformation behaviour caused by frictional sliding and granular compaction. The kinetic law characterizing the erosion process is assumed to have a similar form as the type of threshold law typically used in interfacial erosion models. The numerical implementation of the coupled hydro-mechanical model is based on an incremental-iterative, staggered update scheme. A one-dimensional poro-elastic benchmark problem is used to study the basic features of the hydro-mechanical erosion model and validate its numerical implementation. This problem is further used to reveal the interplay between soil erosion and soil consolidation processes that occur under transient hydro- mechanical conditions, thereby identifying characteristic time scales of these processes for a sandy material. Subsequently, two practical case studies are considered that relate to a sewer system embedded in a sandy soil structure. The first case study treats soil piping caused by suffusion near a sewer system subjected to natural ground water flow, and the second case study considers the formation of a suffosion erosion void under strong ground water flow near a defect sewer pipe. The effects on the erosion profile and the soil deformation behaviour by plasticity phenomena are elucidated by comparing the computational results to those obtained by modelling the constitutive behaviour of the granular material as elastic. The results of this comparison study point out the importance of including an advanced elasto-plastic soil model in the numerical simulation of erosion-driven ground surface deformations and the consequent failure behaviour. The numerical analyses further illustrate that the model realistically predicts the size, location, and characteristic time scale of the generated soil piping and void erosion profiles. Hence, the modelling results may support the early detection of in-situ subsurface erosion phenomena from recorded ground surface deformations. Additionally, the computed erosion profiles may serve as input for a detailed analysis of the local, residual bearing capacity and stress redistribution of buried concrete pipe systems.
Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's30
TijdschriftActa Geotechnica
Nummer van het tijdschriftX
StatusE-publicatie vóór gedrukte publicatie - 6 apr. 2022


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