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Post-doc Project: Modelling of internal erosion by suffusion in soils

Starting: January 2015

Internal erosion by suffusion may develop in the bulk of a soil volume when the particle size grading and the porosity are such that the fine fraction of the soil can migrate through the skeleton formed by the coarse fraction. During this phenomenon, fine solid particles are firstly detached by the action of water seepage, secondly transported through the empty space between the coarse grains, and finally redeposited (filtered) within the interstitial space of the soil itself, possibly resulting in a clogging and the reduction of the porosity.

Suffusion is generally considered as a low kinetic phenomenon but recent experimental results have shown that this last step of filtration and clogging may initiate a second erosion phase, characterised by a much higher kinetic, which was observed to be very aggressive for the soil micro-structure. Therefore this second erosion phase may be damaging for the durability of water retaining structures made of soil, and would allow very little time to take actions.

Detachment, transport and filtration of the fine solid fraction of a soil under the action of the water seepage during internal erosion by suffusion (on the left) modelled with a coupled DEM-PFV numerical method (on the right) 

The objective of the project is to characterize the conditions under which the transition between these two phases is observed, and to improve in particular the description and the understanding of this second quick and aggressive erosion phase.


Our investigations are principally based on numerical simulations performed with the coupled DEM-PFV method (1) in order to take into account both fluid and solid behaviours. These numerical investigations will benefit from the coupling with laboratory tests performed in the GeM Institute (Civil Engineering and Mechanics) where experimental devices dedicated to the characterization of suffusion have been developed.



This project involves a collaboration between the laboratory 3SR and the Institute for Civil Engineering and Mechanics of Nantes.


(1) Discrete element method and Pore Network Finite Volume, implemented in the code YADE and developed at 3SR Laboratory



PI: Luc Sibille; Co-PI: Didier MarotPost-docIgniacio Gonzalez Tejada

Project update

Oral papers 2015:

  • Tejada IG, Sibille L, Chareyre B, Definition of a continuous model of solid particle transport in a saturated granular assembly from discrete numerical experiments. 26th ALERT Geomaterials Workshop, 28th Sept. - 3rd Oct. 2015, Aussois, France.
  • Tejada IG, Sibille L, Chareyre B, Micromechanical modeling of solid particle transport by viscous incompressible flows through granular assemblies. Complex fluid flow in porous media, 12-14 October 2015, Bordeaux, France.

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