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Keywords:

  • discrete element methods;
  • effective elastic properties;
  • layered media;
  • volume fractions;
  • porosity

SUMMARY

Discrete element methods (DEMs) are used for layered geomaterials to investigate the dependency of traditional engineering constants on material properties and loading conditions. Shear deformations and compression tests parallel and perpendicular to layering are conducted on samples of varying kerogen volume fractions, confining pressures, porosities, and layer geometries. The goal of this article is to develop a method to better characterize oil shale (a transversely isotropic layered geomaterial) while eliminating high experimental costs. The DEM simulations conducted in this study demonstrate strong dependencies of Young's modulus, Poisson's ratio, and shear modulus on kerogen volume fraction and porosity. Furthermore, a rule of thumb for layer thickness and particle resolution is proposed for simulation design. Results agree well with robust effective medium theories, solidify the ability of DEM to model the mechanical properties of layered heterogenous materials, and encourage the use of DEM to study more complicated layered media and material failure. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.