experimental micromechanics, contact mechanics, linear bearings, inter-particle friction, granite, debris flow, ballast


Micromechanical and tribological studies of geological materials with a particular focus on their contact-mechanics behavior at the grain scale are currently a major interest in the engineering and geoscience disciplines. In this study, a new robust micromechanical apparatus developed at the City University of Hong Kong is described; it is capable of conducting inter-granule (or inter-particle) loading tests on fine gravel to ballast-sized materials of sizes as small as 5−10 mm to granules (or ballast) as big as 50 mm. The focus of our study is the description of the major technical features of the new apparatus and its performance and repeatability in conducting experiments on reference grains of chrome steel balls and glass balls; in addition, we conducted a preliminary set of experiments on crushed granitic rock, which is a material widely used in geotechnical and transportation infrastructure. The representative results of these experiments are presented in terms of the normal force-displacement relationship, friction, and tangential stiffness. The newly developed large-size apparatus is further compared with a well-established apparatus that can conduct micromechanical tests on sand-sized materials.


Tsinghua University Press