VGeST - Virtual Geoscience Simulation Tools

Granular avalanche

This research was undertaken by Dr. Xavier Garcia during his PhD studies while at Imperial College under the supervision of Dr. J-P. Latham and with the assistance of Dr. John Harrison.

PhD research by Xavier Garcia included development of a clustered sphere model for representing irregular particles for DEM simulations of packing and flow. Here we show a DEM simulation of avalanching where the grain shape is of an irregular but rounded shape, therefore considered well-suited to DEM simulation in terms of computational resources and accuracy.

The static angle of repose was studied by Garcia to look at the sensitivity of an important emergent property as a function of shape resolution. This study is informative because building DEM models with anything other than quite rounded particles using clustered spheres becomes very expensive. The number of spheres used to represent an irregular particle was increased in order to study the resolution needed to achieve consistent results for the angle of repose using clustered spheres and DEM, see Garcia et al. 2009.


Garcia, X., Latham, J.-P., Xiang, J., Harrison., J. 2009. A clustered overlapping sphere algorithm to represent real particles in discrete element modelling, Geotechnique, 59, No. 9, 779-784 doi:10.1680/geot.8.T.037