Engineers Australia

Effect of particle size on the shear strength behaviour of sands

Mohammad Nurul Islam, Ayesha Siddika, Md. Belal Hossain, Azrin Rahman and Md. Abdullah Asad


During plastic deformation of granular materials due to loading, the stress-strain and strength characteristics of sand grains are influenced with grain size, their distribution and packing. Also the macroscopic behaviour of granular materials changes with the variation of microscopic behaviour. Particle size is one of the important properties which plays a dominant role on the stress, strain and strength responses of granular materials. Alteration of grain size results in the change of void ratio as well as particle effective contact area revolutionized and the load distribution mechanism of particle to particle contact. To evaluate the effect of particle size, a series of direct shear tests were performed considering uniform particles of eight samples (0.075, 0.15, 0.212, 0.300, 0.600, 1.18, 1.72 and 2.76 mm) and graded particles of two samples (0.075-1.18 mm and 0.075-2.36 mm). Three types of normal loads (0.05, 0.10 and 0.15 kN) were selected for each test. For uniform particles, particles retained on individual sieve size were considered and in graded particles combination of each uniform particle pondered. A theoretical approach was also proposed to correlate the particle size and macroscopic response. From the experimental results it was observed that for each set of normal load with the increase of particle size, angle of internal friction as well as maximum horizontal shear stress increases for uniform sands and a similar response was noticed in graded sands but the larger the gradation the higher the shear strength. Maximum horizontal shear and angle of internal friction with respect to particle size is also influenced by normal stress. Experimental results have good agreement with the theoretical approach.