Modeling of desiccation cracking in soils due to climate change

Global warming causes accelerated desiccation and progressive cracking of the surface of clayey soils. This formation of a dry cracked crust heavily affects the stability of slopes and embankments. It is, therefore, of high societal and economic value to find innovative techniques that allow to better understand the process of desiccation cracking and to assess its impact on the risk of failure of engineering structures.

In this project, we establish a new numerical simulation technique across the scales that is able to describe the formation of a network of desiccation cracks. A series of novel laboratory experiments will be performed to link the numerical model with experimental findings. A scale-bridging technique enables us then to predict numerically the macroscopic material properties of the dry crust on the engineering scale during the desiccation process, and is used in predicting the risk of failure of embankments and slopes in question.The main progress of the newly developed tools in this project will be that they allow to assess the stability of embankments and natural slopes under changing environmental loads in a computationally efficient “virtual laboratory”. Hence, the outcome of this project will be of high value to allocate public funds for climate change mitigation more effectively.

Start date 01/01/2019
End date 31/12/2022

Funded by

  • Formas (Public, Sweden)

Published: Thu 29 Aug 2019.