The effect of mineralogy and grain breakage on shear-induced noise and auto-acoustic compaction

Monday, 15 December 2014
Stephanie Taylor and Emily E Brodsky, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
The behavior of granular flows is strongly dependent on shear rate. At relatively slow shear velocities, a granular flow will support stresses elastically through force chains in the quasi-static regime. At relatively high shear velocities, it will support stresses by transferring momentum in higher velocity grain collisions in the grain-inertial regime, which results in dilation of the flow. Experiments conducted using a commercial torsional rheometer (TA AR-2000ex) found that at intermediate shear velocities, force chain collapse in angular sand samples produces sound waves capable of vibrating the shear zone enough to cause compaction. Sound produced by spherical glass beads during shearing was of lower amplitude and no compaction effect was observed. In order to characterize both the source of acoustic energy produced during shearing of angular grains and its associated compaction effect, we used the same experimental set up to observe how volumetric and acoustic response to shear stress changes with mineralogy, specifically varying grain hardness and shear modulus. A comparison of angular quartz beach sand (Mohs hardness of 7 and shear modulus of 31.14 GPa) with angular aluminum oxide grit of the same size (Mohs hardness of 9 and shear modulus of 124 GPa) shows markedly different behavior, with the aluminum oxide mixture producing lower noise amplitudes during shearing and showing no compaction at intermediate shear rates. Combined with grain size and shape analysis, the implication is that shear-induced noise is the result of grain fracture rather than shear interactions and is dependent on the relative strength of individual grains. Combined with recent and ongoing work characterizing the effect of mean grain size and polydispersity on shear-induced volumetric and acoustic response, we are moving towards a more complete incorporation of field-observable variables into predictions of natural granular mixtures.