ME Faculty Candidate Kirsten Peterson Research Seminar
- Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 2:10pm
- Roberts Hall, Room 321 - view map
Stability of Reinforced Soil Slopes under Hydraulic Loading Using the Discrete Element Method
Every year wildfires pose a threat to land in the Western United States. Following a fire, soil can be left bare and un-reinforced. Intense rain events can lead to increased runoff, flooding, erosion, and debris flows. Currently, almost all research on slope stabilization techniques that can reduce these destructive forces, are based around field studies rather than attempting to model the physics of the soil particles. The studies can require large amounts of equipment and materials, can take years to acquire data, and are mostly trial and error. The research presented here attempts to model reinforced particle slopes and analyze slope stability under hydraulic loading using the discrete element method (DEM). The DEM is a numerical tool used to simulate the response of granular materials by explicitly considering individual particle interactions. Natural soil stabilization from root development following a fire and the forces generated on the surface by runoff flows for a range of different slopes have been simulated. Resulting simulations have attempted to quantify the decrease in soil particle movement, and therefore decreased erosion rates, that occur as root development progresses with time in a burned soil slope under overland flow conditions. A simple experimental apparatus has been built to conduct one-to-one comparisons between experiments and DEM simulations, with preliminary experimental results used to calibrate damping and friction coefficients in the model. Once the model is calibrated, experiments and simulations will be conducted to provide what are believed to be the first detailed explanations at the particle scale of why post-fire erosion is reduced with increased ground cover from mulch material ground treatments.
In addition to current research using the DEM, a brief overview of recent projects will be given, along with plans for future research, collaboration opportunities, and ideas for securing funding and building a competitive research program at Montana State University.
- Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering