Investigating the mesh dependency and upscaling of 3D grain-based models for the simulation of brittle fracture processes in low-porosity crystalline rock
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The application of 3D grain-based modelling techniques is investigated in both small and large scale 3DEC models, in order to simulate brittle fracture processes in low-porosity crystalline rock. Mesh dependency in 3D grain-based models (GBMs) is examined through a number of cases to compare Voronoi and tetrahedral grain assemblages. Various methods are used in the generation of tessellations, each with a number of issues and advantages. A number of comparative UCS test simulations capture the distinct failure mechanisms, strength profiles, and progressive damage development using various Voronoi and tetrahedral GBMs. Relative calibration requirements are outlined to generate similar macro-strength and damage profiles for all the models. The results confirmed a number of inherent model behaviors that arise due to mesh dependency. In Voronoi models, inherent tensile failure mechanisms are produced by internal wedging and rotation of Voronoi grains. This results in a combined dependence on frictional and cohesive strength. In tetrahedral models, increased kinematic freedom of grains and an abundance of straight, connected failure pathways causes a preference for shear failure. This results in an inability to develop significant normal stresses causing cohesional strength dependence. In general, Voronoi models require high relative contact tensile strength values, with lower contact stiffness and contact cohesional strength compared to tetrahedral tessellations. Upscaling of 3D GBMs is investigated for both Voronoi and tetrahedral tessellations using a case study from the AECL’s Mine-by-Experiment at the Underground Research Laboratory. An upscaled tetrahedral model was able to reasonably simulate damage development in the roof forming a notch geometry by adjusting the cohesive strength. An upscaled Voronoi model underestimated the damage development in the roof and floor, and overestimated the damage in the side-walls. This was attributed to the discretization resolution limitations.