This paper presents a study of the interface of geogrid reinforced subballast through a series of large-scale direct shear tests and discrete element modelling. Direct shear tests were carried out for subballast with and without geogrid inclusions under varying normal stresses of σn = 6.7 to 45 kPa. Numerical modelling with three-dimensional discrete element method (DEM) was used to study the shear behaviour of the interface of subballast reinforced by geogrids. In this study, groups of 25-50 spherical balls are clumped together in appropriate sizes to simulate angular subballast grains, while the geogrid is modelled by bonding small spheres together to form the desired grid geometry and apertures. The calculated results of the shear stress ratio versus shear strain show a good agreement with the experimental data, indicating that the DEM model can capture the interface behaviour of subballast reinforced by geogrids. A micromechanical analysis has also been carried out to examine how the contact force distributions and fabric anisotropy evolve during shearing. This study shows that the shear strength of the interface is governed by the geogrid characteristics (i.e. their geometry and opening apertures). Of the three types of geogrid tested, triaxial geogrid (triangular apertures) exhibits higher interface shear strength than the biaxial geogrids; and this is believed due to multi-directional load distribution of the triaxial geogrid.
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