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COMPLAS VIII

E. Oate and D. R. J. Owen (Eds)

CIMNE, Barcelona, 2005

ARBITRARY LAGRANGIAN-EULERIAN METHOD FOR

CONSOLIDATION PROBLEMS IN GEOMECHANICS

M. Nazem and D. Sheng

School of Engineering, University of Newcastle

University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308 Australia

E-mails: majidreza.nazem@newcastle.edu.au

daichao.sheng@newcastle.edu.au

Key words: Large deformations, ALE, Consolidation, Mesh refinement.

1 INTRODUCTION

In geotechnical problems, deformation is usually coupled with flow of pore fluids. A

coupled finite element procedure combines the equilibrium equation and the continuity

equation through the effective stress principle and the volumetric strain rate

1

. Existing

methods for handling large deformations generally lie within the Updated-Lagrangian (UL)

framework which may fail to furnish a solution in the case of severe mesh distortion

2-5

. The

more advanced Arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian (ALE) method, has not yet attracted much

attention, mainly due to its complexities. In this paper, the Updated-Lagrangian (UL) method

and the Arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian (ALE) method are generalised to solve coupled

displacement and pore pressure problems. A simple and effective mesh refinement scheme is

described for the ALE method. The UL and ALE methods are then used to solve a classical

consolidation problem involving large deformations. The results clearly show the advantage

and efficiency of the ALE method for the problems studied.

2 UPDATED LAGRANGIAN METHOD

In a coupled displacement and pore water pressure analysis, the governing equations are

derived from the principal of virtual displacements and the conservation of mass. The

discretised governing equations can be written as

ep ext

T ext

(

(

+ = (

` ` `

(

) ( )

)

K L 0 0 U F U

0 H P P

L 0 Q

(1)

where U represents the nodal displacement vector, P is the nodal pore pressure vector, K

ep

is

the global elastoplastic stiffness matrix, L is the coupling matrix, H is the flow matrix, F

ext

is

the external force vector, Q

ext

is the external flow vector and the superior dot denotes the first

order derivative with respect to time. In an Updated-Lagrangian (UL) framework, all the

variables and the state variables are known up to time t and the aim is to find the unknowns at

time t+t by solving equation (1). Various time-stepping schemes exist in the literature

6,7

to

solve the nonlinear system of equations. In this study, a backward-Euler scheme with

M. Nazem and D. Sheng.

2

Newton-Raphson iterations is used, see [7] for more details. Moreover, the Jaumann stress

rate and an explicit integration scheme

8

are used to find the stress increments for given strain

increments. See [8-9] for more details.

3 ARBITRARY LAGRANGIAN-EULERIAN METHOD

The ALE method has been developed based on the idea of separating the material and

mesh displacements to eliminate mesh distortion in the UL method. A common form of the

ALE method is the operator split technique during which the analysis is performed in two

steps: an UL step followed by an Eulerian step. In the UL step, we solve the governing

equations to fulfill equilibrium and obtain the material displacements. In the Eulerian step, a

new mesh is generated for the deformed domain to obtain the mesh displacements. All

kinematic and static variables are then transferred from the distorted mesh to the new mesh.

The key issues in the operator-split ALE method thus include the mesh optimisation in the

Euler step and the mapping of variables between the two meshes. The latter is performed

using a first order expansion of Taylors series

10

, which is also known as the convection

equation in the ALE literature. In a coupled displacement-pore water pressure ALE analysis,

the state parameters to be transformed at integration points include the effective stresses,

hardening parameters, void ratios and permeabilities, while the pore-water pressures are

transformed from nodes to nodes. The patch recovery technique

11

is used to recover the nodal

values from the values at integration point. The novel mesh refinement was recently

developed by the authors [9]. To obtain the mesh displacements, we first re-discretise the

deformed boundaries resulting from the UL step. These boundaries include the boundaries of

the domain, the material interfaces and the loading boundaries. With known displacements of

the nodes on these boundaries, we then perform an elastic analysis using prescribed

displacements to obtain the optimal mesh and hence the mesh displacements for all the

internal nodes. The method has been implemented for two-dimensional plane strain problems

and axi-symmetric problems. However, it can easily be generalised to three-dimensional

problems as well. An important advantage of this mesh optimisation method is its

independence of element topology and problem dimensions. The method does not require any

mesh generation algorithm, does not change the topology of the problem, and hence can be

easily implemented in existing finite element codes. For more details see [9].

4 NUMERICAL EXAMPLE

The performance of the UL and the ALE methods are compared via a rigid footing resting

the Modified Cam Clay (MCC) soil. The consolidation settlement of the footing is studied,

with the finite element mesh shown in Figure 1. The parameters of the MCC soil are

3 4

0

25 , 0.2, 0.05, 1.8, 0.3, 2, 1.0, 16 / , 10 /

o

N

e OCR K kN m k m day

= = = = = = = = =

where is the slope of the normal compression line (NCL) in the space of the logarithmic

mean stress lnp versus the void ratio e, is the slope of the unloading-reloading line (URL)

in the lnp - e space, e

N

is the intercept of the NCL on the e axis when lnp = 0, OCR is the

M. Nazem and D. Sheng.

3

over-consolidation ratio of the soil, K

0

is the coefficient of earth pressure at rest, is the unit

weight of the soil and k represents the permeability of the soil. A thin layer of elastic material

is added on top of the MCC soil to prevent a slope instability problem when the settlement of

the footing becomes very large. The elastic modulus, unit weight and Poissons ratio of this

layer are assumed to be 10

3

(kPa), 16 (kN/m

3

) and 0.3, respectively.

The analysis includes three stages. In the first stage, we use body loading of the self weight

of the soil to generate a non-zero initial stress field and a hydrostatic pore pressure profile.

Once the initial stresses are established, the initial yield surface locations are determined

according to the current stresses and the OCR. In the second stage, a uniform pressure q=100

(kPa) is applied on the footing in 100 days. Finally, the load is kept constant and the soil is

allowed to consolidate over time. The settlement of the footing versus time is plotted in

Figures 1b. Both the small-deformation and the UL analyses fail to furnish a solution. The

small-deformation analysis fails at 35 days, due to the applied load being larger than the small

strains collapse load. The UL analysis fails at 75 days, because of negative Jacobian of some

elements resulting from mesh distortion. Only the ALE method can finish the analysis and

predict the final settlement of the footing. The total settlement of the footing predicted by the

ALE method is found to be 1.165 (m) occurring after 3100 days. The deformed meshes at the

end of each analysis are shown in Figures 1c, 1d, and 1e for the small strain theory, UL

method and ALE method respectively.

5 CONCLUSIONS

Two large deformation methods, the Updated Lagrangian and the Arbitrary-Lagrangian-

Eulerian, were generalised for coupled large deformation analysis of geomechanical problems

in this paper. The main drawback of the UL method, mesh distortion, can effectively be

avoided by the ALE method. The main challenges to the ALE method are the mesh

refinement and the remapping of state variables. The mesh refinement scheme adopted in this

study works effectively and efficiently for the problem studied. The method is not only

independent of problem topology and dimensions, but also requires no mesh generation

algorithm.

REFERENCES

[1] M.A. Biot, General theory of three-dimensional consolidation, J. Appl. Phys., 12, 155-169 (1941).

[2] J.P. Carter, J.R. Booker, and J.C. Small, The analysis of finite elasto-plastic consolidation, Int. J. Num.

Anal. Meth. Geomech., 3, 107-129 (1979).

[3] J.H. Prevost, Nonlinear transient phenomena in saturated porous media, Computer Methods in Applied

Mechanics and Engineering., 20, 3-18 (1982).

[4] O.C. Zienkiewicz and T. Shiomi, Dynamic behaviour of saturated porous media; the generalized Biot

formulation and its numerical solution, Int. J. Num. Anal. Meth. Geomech., 8, 71-96 (1984).

[5] R.I. Borja and E. Alarcon, A mathematical framework for finite strain elastoplastic consolidation, Part 1:

Balance laws, variational formulation, and linearization, Comp. Meth. Appl. Mech. Engng., 122, 145-171

(1995).

[6] S.W. Sloan and A.J. Abbo, Biot consolidation analysis with automatic time stepping and error control, part

1: theory and implementation, Int. J. Num. Anal. Meth. Geomech., 23, 467-492 (1999).

[7] D. Sheng and S.W. Sloan, Time stepping schemes for coupled displacement and pore pressure analysis,

M. Nazem and D. Sheng.

4

Comput Mech, 31, 122-134 (2003).

[8] S.W. Sloan, A.J. Abbo and D. Sheng, Refined explicit integration of elastoplastic models with automatic

error control. Engineering Computations, 18, 121-154 (2001).

[9] M. Nazem, D. Sheng and J.P. Carter, Stress integration and mesh refinement in numerical solutions to

large deformations in geomechanics, submitted to Int. J. Numer. Meth. Engng.

[10] T.J.R. Hughes, W.K. Liu and T.K. Zimmermann, Lagrangian-Eulerian finite element formulation for

incompressible viscous flow., Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Engng., 58, 19-36 (1981).

[11] O.C. Zienkiewicz and J.Z. Zhu, The superconvergent patch recovery and a posteriori error estimates. Part

1: The recovery technique, Int. J. Numer. Meth. Engng., 33, 1331-1364 (1992).

Figure 1. Consolidation of a rigid footing on MCC soil.

S

e

t

t

l

e

m

e

n

t

,

m

S

m

o

o

t

h

/

i

m

p

e

r

m

e

a

b

l

e

10 m

10 m

1.0 m

Permeable

0.25 m

displacement nodes

displacement and pore pressure nodes

S

m

o

o

t

h

/

i

m

p

e

r

m

e

a

b

l

e

(a) Problem definition and FE mesh

(b) Settlement versus time

-1.4

-1.2

-1

-0.8

-0.6

-0.4

-0.2

0

1 10 100 1000 10000

Small strain

ALE

UL

Time, days

(c) Mesh at 35 days, Small deformation (d) Mesh at 77 days, UL method (e) Mesh at 3100 days, ALE

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