Hydro-mechanical modelling of damage-plasticity couplings in unsaturated geomaterials

Solenn Marie Le Pense

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis work objective is the development of a hydro-mechanical constitutive model which accounts for damage-plasticity couplings in unsaturated geomaterials. The coupling of this model with hydraulic transfers is made possible by its implementation into the Finite Element code Theta-Stock. In order to achieve this implementation, a specific stress-point algorithm has been developed. Fully coupled hydro-mechanical problems have been simulated, such as the creation of the Excavation Damaged Zone around a tunnel and the initiation of damage due to desiccation and humidification. A double effective stress incorporating both the effect of suction and damage (assumed isotropic) is defined based on thermodynamical considerations. The advantage of this approach is that it results in a unique stress variable being thermodynamically conjugated to elastic strains. A pressure-dependent hyperelastic formulation is used to describe the behaviour inside the elastic domain. The evolution of elastic rigidities with damage is then studied. Two hypotheses are compared, the principle of strain equivalence and the principle of equivalent energy. Coupling between damage and plasticity phenomena is achieved by following the principle of strain equivalence and incorporating the effective stress into plasticity equations. The plasticity framework is based on the Barcelona Basic Model (Alonso extit{et al.}, 1990), itself based on the Cam-Clay model. Two distinct criteria are defined for damage and plasticity, which can be activated either independently or simultaneously. Their formulation in terms of effective stress and suction allows them to evolve in the total stress space with suction and damage changes. This leads to a direct coupling between damage and plasticity and allows the model to capture the ductile/brittle behaviour transition occurring when clays are drying. A specific explicit algorithm has been developed to handle the association of the two dissipative phenomena. The implementation of the constitutive model into the Finite Element code Theta-Stock allowed for the simulation of fully coupled hydro-mechanical problems. The hydraulic transfer laws also consider the saturation state. This fully coupled model is first applied to simulate the development of micro-cracks during desiccation of a soil sample. Damage initiation is explained mainly by the important pressure gradient appearing at the boundary when applying a high suction change. Finally, a full-scale problem is simulated. The excavation of a tunnel, the desaturation of the surrounding soil and the creation of the excavation damaged zone are studied
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Paris-East Créteil University
  • Pouya, A., Supervisor, External person
Award date3 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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