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Numerical Methods in Geotechnical Engineering Benz & Nordal (eds)

2010 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-59239-0

Modeling liquefaction behavior of sands by means of hypoplastic model

A.B. Tsegaye
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
Plaxis B.V., Delft, Netherlands

F. Molenkamp
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

R.B.J. Brinkgreve
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
Plaxis B.V., Delft, The Netherlands

P.G. Bonnier
Plaxis B.V., Delft, The Netherlands

R. de Jager
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

V. Galavi
Plaxis B.V., Delft, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: In this paper the hypoplastic model by Wolffersdorff with the Intergranular Strain extension by
Niemunis and Herle has been used for modeling the undrained behavior of sand during static and cyclic loads.
The paper presents the hypoplastic equations and the Intergranular Strain concept in brief. Numerical simulations
of undrained triaxial compression and cyclic simple shear tests are performed.


imposing assumptions of stress homogeneity, rate

independence and incremental non-linearity, the general form of the hypoplastic equation (e.g. Kolymbas,
2000, Lanier, et al., 2004, Gudehus, 1996) is written as:

Hypoplasticity is an incrementally non-linear path

dependent constitutive model. The basic function in
hypoplasticity is of a general form:

Where L and N are literally the linear and the

non-linear parts of the hypoplastic stiffness matrix
respectively. The L and N matrices of Wolffersdorffs hypoplastic model, which uses a predefined
Matsuoka-Nakai yield criterion, are written as:

Where is the Jaumanns objective stress rate, is the

current stress state and is the current strain rate.
There are a number of hypoplastic models (Kolymbas, 1977, Wu, 1992, Gudehus 1996, Niemunis &
Herle, 1997, Wolffersdorff, 1996). In this study Wolffersdorff s version of hypoplasticity (Wolffersdorf,
1996) with the so called Intergranular Strain extension
(Niemunis and Herle, 1997) has been used to simulate
the undrained behavior of sand during static and cyclic


F and a define the Matsuoka-Nakais yield surface.

Elaborating the tensor valued isotropic function in

equation (1) using the representation theorem and


Table 1.

Where c = the critical state friction angle, tr is the

trace of a matrix obtained by summation of the diagonal terms, is a second order identity tensor, and fs
and fd are scalar factors included in the early 1990s to
account for the effect of density and pressure.
fs is a generalized function that contains the influence of the void ratio on the incremental stiffness and
the influence of barotropy (pressure) and is given as:

= 0

= 90

= 180

mR L

mR L
mT L

mR L
mR L

Table 2.

Boundary conditions for linear interpolation over

(0 , 90 )


(0 , 90 )


f ()








at the intergranular strain and during change of loading direction, is calculated from the basic hypoplastic
stiffness tensors L and N.
The various assumptions are depicted in Figure 1a.
The recent deformation history is stored in Intergranular Strain tensor with a generalized objective evolution
rule (Niemunis and Herle, 1997) given as:

The influence of density (pycnotropy) is controlled via

the scalar, fd given as:

Where , , ei0 , ec0 , ed0 , hs and n are model parameters.

All but and are determined from the evolution
of the critical state, the upper and the lower bound
void ratio in e-logp plane following Bauers isotropic
compression law (Bauer, 1996) which is given as:

Where h = h/||h|| is the direction of the intergranular

strain, R is a material constant and r is a parameter
that controls the Intergranular Stain evolution rate.
The tangent stiffness is assumed to degrade linearly
over as shown in Figure 1b, where is model
parameter for non-linearity of the tangent stiffness
degradation with .
Linear interpolation over of the set of constraints
given in Table 1 gives:

Where ei , ec and ed are the upper bound, critical and

the lower bound void ratios at mean normal pressure
p, respectively; ei0 , ec0 and ed0 are the corresponding
values at zero mean pressure; hs = granulate hardness,
n = exponent to take pressure sensitivity into account.

Boundary conditions for linear interpolation over

A second interpolation follows based on the direction of the current strain rate, d = /||||, relative to
This interpolation is
the recent strain rate direction, h.

also linear with the direction parameter, f() = h

between M180 and M90 and between M90 and M0 .
Linear interpolation over f() following the constraints in Table 2 gives:



The hypoplastic model by Wolffersdorff could predict

the mechanical behavior of state dependent granular
material during monotonic deformation. The model
could also differentiate unloading and reloading paths.
The model however, is said to accumulate excessive
of plastic strains at small strain and during change
of loading direction leading to excessive pore pressure accumulation (Niemunis and Herle, 1997). Hence
they proposed the so called Intergranular Strain to
account for stiff behavior of soils at small strains and
during change of loading direction. A tangential stiffness tenor, M, which considers increased magnitude

Where denotes the dyadic product, and the colon:

denotes the scalar product between two tensors.
To the authors knowledge, this interpolation function has not so far been compared to experimental


Figure 1. a) The Intergranular Stiffness dial (for N = 0) b)

tangent stiffness degradation with .
Figure 2. Effect of the parameters and r on the tangent
stiffness degradation curve (the reference curves (in bold) are
for mR = 5, = 6, r = 0.5).

results. The law of inertia can be utilized to reason

out the validity of the assumptions (Tsegaye, 2009).
As a consequence of modeling the small strain and
cyclic behavior, the formulation of the Intergranular
Strain levies the hypoplastic model with five more
parameters- mR , mT , r R and . The procedures to
determine these parameters have been presented by
Niemunis (Niemunis, 2003). Nevertheless, the tests
required are cumbersome and some of the parameters r and may be abstract to the user. As such,
in hypoplastic simulations involving the Intergranular
Strain default values have often been used.
Using various empirical relations summarized by
Benz (2006), the parameter mR may be estimated from
a semi empirical relation given as:

Figure 3. The first set of curves show the small strain stiffness degradation for various values of the parameter mR
(varying mR from 2 up to 10 and holding = 6 and r = 0.5)
while the second set show the effect of the parameter and
r on the normalized limit strain, lim /R (the normalized limit
strain should be read for various values of and the values
r at the right axis).

Wherein A is a correlation constant f (e) is function

of the void ratio, OCR is the over consolidation ratio
(which can fairly be left out for sand), vur and Eur
are the unload-reload Poissons ratio and the unload
reload reference elastic stiffness respectively at a reference mean normal pressure (usually considered at
atmospheric pressure).
Proper determination of the parameter mT requires
a test with a 90 load reversal. In this study mT = 0.4mR
has been used. The parameter R can be obtained from
cyclic shear test. To observe the effect of the other
parameters r and we shall consider a one dimensional monotonic simple shearing, h > 0, where
equation (12) can be reduced to the form:

Using linear interpolation between the maximum

small strain stiffness GR and the residual shear stiffness
G in terms of , the following relation can be derived:

Considering equations (18) and (19) the purposes

and effects of r and can be observed as shown in Figure 2. Very low values of r may not be desirable from
numerical convergence point of view and higher values increase the rate of stiffness degradation. Higher
values of tend to add to the constant (very small
strain) regime.
As shown in Figure 3, the normalized small strain
stiffness is asymptotic to G/GR = 1/mR . This marks
where the small strain stiffness is completely forgotten
and the hypoplastic model takes full charge. The corresponding strain level may be obtained from Figure 3.

Up on integration of both sides of equation (17)

(Tsegaye, 2009) we obtain:


The coupling between shear stress and volume

strain is inherent to the hypoplastic equation. Hence
the dilatancy behavior of the model can be easily investigated from equation (24) by considering dq / dp = 3
for drained triaxial compression condition.
For undrained condition, the volumetric strain rate
can fairly be assumed zero. Hence, the ratio of the
deviatoric stress rate to the isotropic stress rate can be
written as:

Niemunis (2003) defined this strain as swept out of

memory strain, som in which the additional stiffness
is swept out (decayed out by more than a 90%).
The limit strain plotted in Figure 3 for various values
of and r is by using equations (18) and (19). A
fair estimation can be obtained by using the following

Where lim is the limit shear strain level the Intergranular Strain remains active and is the normalized limit
shear strain. A and n may be estimated according to:
Considering equation (25) and instability condition at
dq / dp = 0,

The parameter R is the strain range where the model

behaves linear elastic with a shear modulus of GR .
Experimental results show this region is of a limited range to a shear strain level 106 or less (very
small strain range). However, in this formulation R
also determines the maximum shear strain level the
Intergranular Strain is active:

Solving the quadratic equation (26), the slope of the

undrained instability line, IL , for triaxial compression
is obtained as:

Equation (27) holds true for contractive soils where

fd,IL 1. The equation further shows the most important parameters that govern the slope of the instability
line during undrained triaxial compression simulation
are fd,IL and a. The function fd presented in equation
(10), can also be written as:

For example, for = 6 and r = 0.5, we obtain 8.5.

If we set lim = 103 , we require R 1.1 104 or
rather a choice of R = 1 106 will give a lim of
approximately 105 which is very small. The fact
that the Intergranular Strain decays relatively faster
requires higher value of R (than observed in experiments) to stay in the game. In fact this range can also
be controlled by the choice of the parameter r (for
smaller magnitude of r , we can obtain higher value
of ). However, significantly lower values of r may
lead to numerical non convergence yet it increases the
influence zone in a similar fashion as using higher
value of R).

Where = e ec is the state parameter as defined by

Been & Jefferies (1985) and e and ec are the current
material void ratio and the corresponding critical state
void ratio at the current confining pressure respectively. The function fd depends not only on the state
parameter but also on ec and ed which in turn are
dependent on the mean normal pressure. Figure 3
illustrates the effect of fd,IL and IL on the slope of
the instability line during undrained triaxial compression simulation. However, instead of equation (28),
fd = (1 + a ) has been used, where a is considered a
material constant which is held 1 in the figure disregarding the pressure dependence. Similar curves
have been experimentally investigated (e.g. Chu, et al.,
2003, Wanatowuski, 2007).


From now on we can leave the Intergranular strain
complication aside as it will not affect the elaborations
Elaboration of the general hypoplastic equation for
triaxial compression stress state (e.g. Niemunis, 2003,
Tsegaye, 2009) gives



Where, = q/p, p = ( 1 + 2 3 ) 3, q = 1 3 ,

v = 1 + 23 and q = 2(1 + 23 ) 3 are considered

Castro (Castro, 1969) in his PhD thesis investigated the

liquefaction behavior of the so called Castro Sand B
(Been and Jefferies, 2004) during monotonic triaxial


Table 3.

Model parameters for Castro Sand B.

Basic parameters

Intergranular Strain Parameters*








[0 ]




*The usual Intergranular Strain parameters

Figure 5. Evolution of the critical state, and the maximum
and the minimum void ratios (following Bauers exponential
isotropic compression rule) and various Castro sand drained
triaxial compression test results.

void ratio lie above the critical state line in e-logp

plane) show liquefaction (stress path directing to
zero effective stress), dense samples (with an initial
void ratio below the critical state void ratio) could
show increase in undrained strength climbing up after
the phase transformation line. Moreover, undrained
cyclic simple shear simulations show cyclic mobility and liquefaction. However, the hypoplastic model
without application of the Intergranular Strain accumulates excessive pore pressure underestimating the
undrained shear strength of the samples. Application of the Intergranular Strain helped to reduce this
excessive accumulation of pore pressure around the
hydrostatic axis in the undrained triaxial compression
simulations. During undrained cyclic shear simulations, the number of cycles leading to liquefaction is
very much underestimated if the Intergranular Strain
is not considered.

Figure 4. Slope of the Instability line for a triaxial compression test in hypoplastic constitutive model, M = 6sin c /
(3-sin c ). Parameters and functions with the subscript-IL are
at the point of instability.

compression test. The hypoplastic parameters determined for this sand are shown in Table 3 (Tsegaye,
2009). Due to absence of cyclic shear data, the Intergranular Strain parameters used are which we found
common in literatures.
Figure 4 shows the evolution of the critical state
and the bounding void ratios.The evolution parameters
(hs and n) have been determined based on the gradation curve following the empirical relations given by
Gudehus & Herle (Herle, I. & Gudehus, G. 1999).


In modeling the mechanical behavior of granular materials, soil mechanics offers two strong theoretical
concepts: the theory of presence of a critical state and
the stress dilatancy theory. The attempt of modeling of
deformation behavior of granular soil under the critical
state theory involves at a minimum the initial state and
an experimentally well defined critical state. Intermediate states can be considered as interpolation between
these known boundaries, similar to boundary value
problem (Tsegaye, 2009). The stress dilatancy theory
offers a mathematical tool that captures the experimentally proved shear volume coupling. In modeling
the liquefaction behavior both frameworks are essential. The reference hypoplastic model has a strong
grip on both frameworks which makes it an interesting tool for modeling the deformation behavior in
general and liquefaction behavior in particular of granular soils. While the model appears appealing due its
firm theoretical and experimental base, the question
of uncertainty and fuzziness of the initial state and the

Where Cu = coefficient of uniformity, d50 = mean

grain diameter and d0 = 1 mm
Results shown in Figure 5 are drained simulations
of triaxial compression test on Castro sand samples
under different initial state. The numerical results
show remarkably close trend to experimental results.
Drained softening is well predicted for dense samples.
The dilatancy behavior has been captured. The model
however seems to accumulate more volumetric strain
than seen in the experimental results.
Model runs for undrained triaxial compression
test, as shown in Figure 6, could show liquefaction
behavior. While contractive samples (whose initial


Figure 7. Undrained triaxial compression and undrained

cyclic shear simulations on various samples of Castro
Sand (Exp. = Experiment, W = With Intergranular Strain,
Wo = with out Intergranular Strain).

also lays on the test apparatuses. Reaching the critical state requires apparently a very large deformation
which can be beyond the apparatuses allow.
The stress dilatancy formulation quantifies the volume change due to shearing (contractive or dilative).
This coupling is captured by the hypoplastic model
used in this study. However, it gives stronger contractive sense than shown by experiments. This leads
to unrealistic accumulation of pore pressure during
undrained monotonic and cyclic loading. As shown in
various undrained simulations, application of the Intergranular Strain reduces the strong contractive sense of
the hypoplastic model during monotonic loading and
the excessive ratcheting behavior during cyclic loading leading to better prediction of the pore pressure

Figure 6. Drained triaxial compression test and simulation

on various Castro sand samples at different initial states.

critical state poses a challenge on the predicted results.

The measurement of the initial state is prone to disturbance. Determination of the initial state is also liable to
the assumption of homogeneity. The determination of
the critical state requires performing a number of tests
at various confining pressures. Various samples are
likely to show scatter in reaching the critical state. For
relatively dense samples, reaching the critical state is
difficult because of stress localization. The limitation


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generation during undrained simulations. In spite of

its importance, the Intergranular Strain formulation
suffers from parameters that require complicated test
procedures and perhaps some parameters which are
too abstract. In this regard, we feel the need for experimental investigation and appropriation of the various
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