Investigating Influence of Freeze-Thaw Cycles on the Degradation of Sandstone through Discrete Method Modeling

C. Huang, C. Zhu, S. Aluthgun Hewage, Y. Ma, X. Shi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In this study, the discrete element modeling (DEM) method is adopted to evaluate the influence of freeze-thaw cycles (FTC) action on the mechanical properties of sandstone. A water-rich rock model is built, with rock and water compositions represented by particles of different sizes. To overcome the intrinsic porosity limitation of DEM model and better represent the saturated rock sample, we develop an algorithm to include particles of smaller and varying sizes into rock pores. The ice-water phase change and the resulting accumulation of residual strain are considered by developing a modified elastoplastic model. The rationality of this model is first validated by comparing numerical results with published experimental data. Numerical results highlight the FTC deterioration of the uniaxial compressive strength and Young's modulus of rock specimens. We establish exponential correlations between the freeze-thaw cycle number and the rock's mechanical properties such as the uniaxial compressive strength, Young's modulus and strain energy, showing consistent trends with experimental observations. Inter-particle contact damage also reflects the formation and distribution of micro-fractures in rock specimens under freeze-thaw cyclic treatments. This study provides new insights into the rock degradation process under changing climate and could contribute to the future design and assessment of climate-resilient infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
PublisherAmerican Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA)
ISBN (Electronic)9780979497575
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium - Santa Fe, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

Publication series

Name56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium


Conference56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Fe

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


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