Investigating Mechanical Behaviors of Rocks Under Freeze–Thaw Cycles Using Discrete Element Method

Chenchen Huang, Cheng Zhu, Yifei Ma, Shaini Aluthgun Hewage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In this study, we adopt the Discrete Element Method (DEM) to evaluate the influence of Freeze–Thaw Cycles (FTCs) action on the mechanical properties of rock. 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 an elastoplastic parallel bond model in PFC2D. The rationality of this model is first validated by comparing numerical results with published experimental data. Numerical results highlight the FTCs deterioration of the uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) and Young’s modulus of rock specimens. We establish exponential correlations between the FTCs number and the rock’s mechanical property, with the trends consistent with experimental observations. Inter-particle contact damage also reflects the formation and distribution of micro-fractures in rock specimens under freeze–thaw cyclic treatments. Based on the elastoplastic parallel bond model, we explore the influences of porosity and initial UCS on decay constant which reflects the freeze–thaw resistance of rock. It is found that decay constants of UCS and Young’s modulus decrease with the increase of porosity. While the decay of UCS decreases with the increase of initial UCS, which means the sample of larger initial UCS is harder to be deteriorated by FTCs. This study provides new insights into the rock degradation process under changing climate and may contribute to the future design and assessment of climate-resilient infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7517-7534
Number of pages18
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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