Simulating Subgrade Soil Fluidization Using LBM-DEM Coupling

Publication Name

International Journal of Geomechanics


The loss of effective stress due to increasing excess pore pressure that results in the upward migration of soil particles, that is, subgrade fluidization and mud pumping, has been a critical issue for railways over many years. Traditional methods such as experimental and analytical approaches can capture macroscopic quantities such as the hydraulic conductivity and critical hydraulic gradient, but they have many limitations when microscopic and localized behavior must be captured. This paper, therefore, presents a novel numerical approach where the microscopic properties of fluid and particles can be better captured when the soil is subjected to an increasing hydraulic gradient. While particle behavior is simulated using the discrete element method (DEM), the fluid dynamics can be described in greater detail using the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM). The mutual LBM-DEM interaction is carried out, so the particle and fluid variables are constantly updated. To validate this numerical method, laboratory testing on a selected subgrade soil is conducted. The results show that the numerical method can reasonably predict the coupled hydraulic and soil fluidization aspects, in relation to the experimental data. Microscopic properties such as the interstitial fluid flowing through the porous spaces of the soil are also captured well by the proposed fluid-particle coupling approach.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council