Snow Failure Modes Under Mixed Loading

Mede, Tijan ; Chambon, Guillaume ; Hagenmuller, Pascal ; Nicot, François

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<p align="justify">The mechanical response of snow to mixed-mode shear and normal loading is the key ingredient for snow avalanche modeling and strongly depends on microstructural characteristics. A discrete element numerical model was developed, which enables the simulation of large-strain response of snow samples directly described by their full microstructure obtained through X-ray microtomography. The model offers new insights into the failure mechanism as well as postfailure response of snow in mixed-mode loading. Three distinct failure modes are identified, depending on the value of applied normal stress. Above a certain threshold normal stress, the failure is characterized by a structural collapse that decomposes the snow sample into a set of cohesionless grains. It is shown that the collapse is a dynamic process, which, once initiated, develops independently of shearing. This behavior was consistently observed for different snow types, including faceted crystals typically composing weak layers.</p>
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