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New Design Concepts in Light-Weight Armour for Vehicles

LWAG Light-Weight Armour for Defence & Security

F. Teixeira-Dias, F. Coghe, B. Dodd (editors)
Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal, 2011

Modelling and Simulation of Explosions in Sand

B. Zakrisson a,b,? , H.-
A. Haggblad b
aBAE Systems H agglunds AB

SE-891 82 Ornsk
aUniversity of Technology, Solid mechanics
SE-971 87 Lule

? Corresponding author: bjorn.zakrisson@baesystems.se

Abstract. The demand for protection of personnel in military vehicles has increased dramatically in
the past recent years. Numerical simulations may be an effective tool in order to obtain an estimate if
a military vehicle is able to withstand a specific threat, or to compare different design concepts against
each other. The success of the outcome is however dependent on several parameters, where valid input
data to chosen material models is the focus of the current paper. A detonating explosive acting on a
deformable structure is a highly transient and non-linear event. In field blast trials of military vehicles,
a standard procedure is followed in order to reduce the uncertainties and increase the quality of the
test. The explosive is buried in the ground, where the state of the soil must meet specific demands. Soil
may be considered as a three phase medium, consisting of solid particles, water and air. Variations
between the amounts in these phases affect the stiffness of the soil, and may affect the result of the
test. Laboratory experiments have been done in the present work to characterise the behaviour of a soil
material. The experimental outcome has formed input data to represent the material behaviour under
influence of the expanding detonation products, in combination with an analytical three-phase model.
The material data derived in this work along with material data from the literature is used in numerical
simulations representing field blast trials. The blast trials included explosive buried at different depths
in wet or dry soil. A dependence of water content of the soil can be shown, both in the past field trials
along with the numerical simulations. Even though some deviations exist, the simulations showed in
general good agreement with the experimental results.

Keywords: Equation of state; experiment; material characterisation; material model; numerical

simulation; sand.


Soil characteristics are of interest in a number of different fields, covering both quasi-static and
dynamic loading. Quasi-static soil properties are for instance of interest in dam engineering
and construction, while dynamic soil characteristics are of concern regarding earth quake
physics and defensive protection against land mine explosions. Soil materials consist of many
single grains of different size and shape, forming a skeleton where the voids are filled with
water and air. Soil can thus be considered as a three-phase medium, consisting mainly of
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solid grains with portions of water and air. When a small amount or no water at all is
included in the soil, the sample may be considered dry. If no air is included in the soil, the
sample is on the other hand said to be fully saturated. When the soil is under loading, it
undergoes a change in shape and compressibility. The volume decreases due to changes in
grain arrangements. Microscopic interlocking with frictional forces between the contacting
particles lead to bending of flat grains and rolling of rounded particles. If the load is further
increased, the grains eventually become crushed [1]. In quasi-static applications, the water
is often assumed to be incompressible. If the soil is compacted at a slow rate, the air and
portions of water are squeezed out of the soil skeleton. This assumption is however not valid
under shock loading, where water and air can undergo severe volumetric compression. In a
highly dynamic compaction such as an underground explosion, the air and water does not
have time to escape and may be considered as trapped in the soil [2].
In the NATO standard [3], recommendations for testing conditions of field blast trials with
explosive positioned in the ground are given. The soil shall be saturated with water prior to
testing, with the total wet density of the soil 2.20.1 g/cm3. The soil type in the ground shall
be sandy gravel, with 100% passing a 40mm sieve and maximum 10% passing a 0.08 mm sieve.
According to Table 1, definitions for gravel, sand, silt and clay based on particle size are given
based on three different classification systems [4]. Based on this, the soil type sandy gravel
may contain a particle size between 040 mm, with maximum 10% of the grains smaller than
0.08 mm.

Table 1: Soil definition with respect to particle size [4].

Particle description Gravel Sand Silt Clay

BSCSa 60 - 2 2 0.06 0.06 0.002 < 0.002
Particle size (mm) ASTMb > 4.75 4.75 0.075 0.075 0.005 0.001 0.005
USCSc 75 4.75 4.75 0.075 < 0.075
British Soil Classification System
American Society for Testing and Materials
Unified Soil Classification System

Similar to rock and concrete, the strength of a soil is pressure dependent [5]. However, in
contrast to rock and concrete, soil has very low strength without some kind of confinement.
The soil material response depends on several parameters, such as for example grain size
distribution, grain density, in situ density and degree of saturation. It is common to use
a triaxial apparatus for characterisation of soil and other granular materials. A cylindrical
sample is placed into a pressurised chamber, where the stress can be individually set in the
radial and axial direction. It is thus possible to obtain both the yield function and the
compaction curve with this test. This method has been used for example in a derivation of
mechanical properties for sand with 6.57% moisture content by Laine and Sandvik [6], where
a triaxial apparatus was used up to 60 MPa confining pressure. Above 60 MPa, the data
representing the compaction curve was estimated by a 5th order polynomial function. The
material data provided by Laine and Sandvik is very often used in the industry and defence
applications involving land mine simulation due to its simplicity [7], but have also been used in
civil applications such as road side safety [8]. It is difficult to reach high hydrostatic pressures
with triaxial testing devices, but magnitudes up to 1 GPa has been reached for example by
Gabet et al. in [9]. However, a triaxial press capable of such high pressures becomes very large
and expensive. At the present, a common experimental method to reach higher pressure for
constructing a compaction curve (i.e. shock Hugoniot) is the plate impact experiment, carried
out at high strain rates. This has been done for both dry and water saturated quartz sand
by Chapman et al. in [10]. Bragov et al. [11] evaluated data using both a modified Kolsky
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bar and plate impact experiments to obtain material parameters for dry quartz sand covering
a wide range of strain rates. Using the Kolsky bar, pressures close to 280 MPa was reached,
and close to 1.8 GPa for the plate impact. No significant strain rate dependence could be
found between the two experimental methods, indicating that a quasi-static characterization
would also be valid.
It is of interest to have one generic model which includes all the important parameters affecting
the soil response. Grujicic et al. [7] used an analytical and computational approach, where
a three-phase model was constructed in order to estimate sand response under blast loading
at different degree of saturations. An extension to include differences in grain size has also
been done in [12]. Regarding material data for larger particle sizes corresponding to gravel
or sandy gravel, not much data is available in the literature. Lekarp et al. provided yield
function data for sandy gravel in [1] which also has been used by Wu and Thomson in [8], but
no volumetric compression data has been found.
The aim of this work is to, by using relatively simple experimental techniques, characterize a
sandy gravel material previously used in blast trials. The blast trials are simulated with the
developed material data in addition to published data from the literature, and compared to
the experimental results. A three-phase modelling approach have been used to construct the
compaction curve at different degrees of saturation based on the characterized material.


In an earlier work by Zakrisson et al. [13], blast trials with the explosive placed in sandy
gravel at three different burial depths were carried out. The explosive charge was 0.75 kg
Swedish military plastic explosive m/46 (commercially known as NSP71) with a density of
1500 kg/m3 , consisting of 86% PETN and 14% fuel oil. The charge was formed to a cylindrical
shape resulting in a diameter to height (D/H) ratio of 3.The experimental setup is shown in
Figure 1, where the ground blast rig with the sides 3 2 m and total height 2.7 m includes a
hanging test module. The test module consists of a square target plate of steel quality Weldox
700E with dimension 600x600x8 mm, held in place with a plate holder with the most important
dimension shown in Figure 1. The target plate is able to deform into a tube with inner radius
250 mm, where the tube edge is rounded to a 15 mm radius allowing a smooth deformation
of the target plate. The maximum dynamic target plate deformation was measured with a
deformable crush gauge made of a small block of thin walled aluminium honeycomb mounted
inside the tube of the test module. Knowing the initial distance from the target plate to
the crush gauge, the distance the crush gauge has deformed is thus used to determine the
maximum dynamic deformation, max , of the target plate. Further, the residual target plate
deformation, res , was determined at the plate centre. The test module also includes ballast
weights, giving a total test module weight of 2120 kg. The maximum test module jump, Ztm ,
was then determined by using a deformable crush gauge in combination with a linear position
sensor. The momentum transfer, Itm , can then be estimated by

Itm = m 2gZtm , (1)

where m is the test module mass, g the gravity constant and Ztm is the test module jump.
measurement of momentum transfer.
In addition to 10 tests with explosive placed in sandy gravel, two tests with explosive posi-
tioning in a steel pot were done. This work focuses on the simulation of the explosion in sand,
while the steel pot simulations along with further information about the test procedure can
be found in [13, 14]. Three different depth of burial (DOB) were tested, 0, 50 and 150 mm,
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627 mm

Plate Target Position sensor

holder plate
Crush gauge

Test module

Soil box

Figure 1: Plate holder and test module to the left, the complete experimental setup to the right.

measured from the sand top surface to the mine top surface. For all three DOBs, the soil
was watered and compacted manually. Prior to the tests, a sample using a confined volume
of 1.218 dm3 was taken from the top of the soil box to determine the initial in situ density,
moisture content and degree of saturation. Also, two tests at DOB 50 mm were carried out
without watering the soil, and may thus be considered as dry. The square soil boxes were
made of wood with the side 950 mm while the height varied between 500 and 600 mm de-
pending on DOB of the mine. The height of the soil box was 500 mm for DOB 0 and 50 mm,
while the height was increased to 600 mm for DOB 150 mm. The stand-off to the target plate
was nominally held at 250 mm and measured from the target plate to the surface of the soil.
Since the boxes varied in height, the test module had to be adjusted vertically in the hanging
chains to keep the nominal stand-off distance, even though a slight variation was experienced.
The charges buried at 0 and 50 mm depth had a stand-off of 246 mm, while 150 mm DOB
had a 235 mm stand-off.
The complete description of all 10 tests is given by Zakrisson et al. in [13], while the average
initial states and the experimental results are given in Table 2 with deviations. The definitions
of volumes of a three-phase soil sample is shown in Figure 2, where the initial relative volume,
, for each phase is defined as
Vi0 0
= = i0 , (2)
V0 i0
where i = a, w, s represents air, water and solid grains, respectively. The saturation, S, is
determined as
S = Vw /Vp , (3)
and if the degree of saturation is 1 (i.e. 100%), the soil is fully saturated and only consisting
of solid grains and water. The moisture content is denoted w and determined as
w = mw /ms , (4)
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where mw is the mass of water in the soil sample and ms is the mass of the sand particles.
The sandy gravel used in the tests is commercially distributed as concrete gravel, with solid
grain density of 2.70.03 g/cm3 and a particle size ranging between 0-8 mm.

Table 2: Initial conditions for the soil along with test results.

DOB 0 mm 50 mm 150 mm 50 mm
State Wet Wet Wet Dry
(kg/m3 ) 18401717 185448 31 18421717 177155
s0 (%) 63.80.5
64.51.1 0.5
w0 (%) 13.60.4
13.21.3 0.2
a0 (%) 22.60.9
22.32.7 0.6
w (%) 8.00.2
0.1 7.70.6
S (%) 37.61.5
1.5 37.35.4
max (mm) 92.21.6
1.7 0.4
72.30.5 0.1
res (mm) 84.60.9
0.9 91.82.0
59.51.3 0.4
Itm (Ns) 19902020 2623307373 28337743 220555

Air Va0

Vw0 V0

Solid grains

Figure 2: Definition of initial volumes of a soil sample.

The general numerical methods used in this work to describe the blast loading and structural
deformation are described in this section. The explicit solver of the commercial finite element
(FE) software LS-DYNA V971 R5.1.1 [15] was used for the calculations. The numerical
simulations in this work were executed on a Linux SMP cluster with 4-8 Gb of available
memory. Only one core was used on a 2.8 GHz dual core AMD Opteron 2220 processor, with
double precision. The numerical code has been used without modifications.

3.1 Soil material

In this section, the material modelling for the soil is presented.

3.1.1 Material model

The LS-DYNA material model 16 together with a tabulated equation of state (EOS) is used
to describe the soil in this work. The deviatoric and volumetric response is decoupled, where
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the deviatoric response is given by a yield function and the volumetric response is given by
the EOS [16]. The material model gives the yield function relation between the deviatoric
stress, q, versus pressure, P , in a piecewise tabulated form, together with a tensile cut-off
value. The initial density and the Poissons ratio are also given in the material model. The
EOS is given in piecewise tabular form of 10 points, relating pressure versus volumetric strain,
v , given by the natural logarithm of the relative volume based on the initial density given by
the material model. The EOS also relates the unloading bulk modulus, K, to the tabulated
pressure points. LS-DYNA extrapolates if needed [15]. Thus, Poissons ratio, , given in
the material model and the bulk modulus from the EOS complete the relation between the
isotropic elastic constants as
3K(1 2)
G= , (5)
2(1 + )

where G is the shear modulus. If the bulk modulus is varying, also the shear modulus will
vary, leaving Poissons ratio constant. Thus, the sound speed, c, in the material will also vary
c = K/. (6)

An example of the yield function and the volumetric response defined by the equation of
state is shown in Figure 3. The volumetric response is in the figure given in the form of
pressure-density, since it usually is more intuitive to relate to compared to volumetric strain.

Figure 3: Soil material input. Yield function defining shear stress against pressure shown to the left,
compaction equation of state representing pressure versus density shown to the right.
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3.1.2 Three-phase model

A soil sample can, as mentioned in the introduction and shown in Figure 2, be divided
into three phases, solid particles, water and air, with the volumes denoted Vs , Vw and Va ,
respectively. In an explosive process, it may be assumed that the air and water does not have
time to escape, i.e. all three phases exist during the compaction. The total volume is thus
the sum of the volume of each of the three individual phases. The procedure used here was
originally proposed by Henrych [17], and has previously been adapted by An, Fiserova, Wang
et al. and Grujicic et al. to mention a few [2, 4, 7, 18].
The initial relative volume for each phase is defined according to Equation (2) and can be
written as
V0 Va0 + Vw0 + Vs0
= = a0 + w0 + s0 . (7)
V0 V0

Analogously, the current relative volume is given as

Vi 0
= = i , (8)
V0 i
and the total current relative volume
0 V Va + Vw + Vs
= = = a + w + s . (9)
V0 V0

Equation (9) shows that the current density of the soil sample can be described by the sum
of the relative volumes of each individual phase. All three phases will experience the same
pressure at the same time, but each phase may experience different individual densities due
to different compressibility defined by its equations of state. For air, the equation of state can
be expressed in an adiabatic form such as

P = P0 , (10)

where P0 is the atmospheric pressure and = 1.4 is the adiabatic constant. Equation (10)
can be rewritten using Equations (2) and (8) to

a a0
P = P0 = P0 . (11)
a0 a

Rearranging Equation (11) for the current relative volume gives

a = a0 . (12)

For the water, the equation of state is here defined as

" #
2 w kw

w0 Cw0
P = P0 + 1 , (13)
kw w0

where Cw0 = 1415 m/s, kw = 3, w0 = 1000 kg/m3 [4]. Using Equations (2) and (8) and
rearranging Equation (13) analogously as for the air EOS, we get
P P0
w = w0 2 kw + 1 . (14)
w0 Cw0
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Using Equation (9) and rearranging, the expression for the current density becomes
= , (15)
a + w + s

where a and w is calculated using Equations (12) and (14) for a given pressure. If a relation
for the current relative volume for the sand, s is known, Equation (15) is completed and the
pressure-density data to the equation of state can be derived.

3.2 Gaseous materials

The explosive is modelled as a high explosive material with a Jones-Wilkins-Lee (JWL) form
of equation of state. A combined programmed burn and beta burn model determines when
an explosive element is detonated based on the initial density 0 , detonation pressure PCJ
and detonation velocity D [15]. When the criteria for detonation of an explosive element is
achieved, the energy is then released with the pressure defined according to the three term
JWL equation of state as
(R1 v) E
P =A 1 e +B 1 e(R2 v) + , (16)
R1 v R2 v v

where A, B, R1 , R2 and are material constants, is the relative volume and E is the internal
energy per unit reference volume. The JWL equation of state for the plastic explosive m/46
used in the blast trials have been calibrated and validated using cylinder tests presented in a
report by Helte et al. [19], and is used in previous applied work by Zakrisson et al. [14]. The
material- and JWL parameters for m/46 are given in Table 3.

Table 3: Material- and JWL-parameters for the plastic explosive m/46 [19].

D PCJ A B R1 R2 E0
kg/m3 m/s GPa GPa GPa kJ/cm3
1500 7680 21.15 759.9 12.56 5.1 1.5 0.29 7.05

The air is modelled with an ideal gas form of equation of state, defined as

p = (1 ) E, (17)

where is the current density and 0 the initial density while E is the internal energy per unit
reference volume. Also, = 1.4 is defined as the ratio between the specific heat at constant
pressure and volume, respectively. With initial density 1.169 kg/m3 , the initial pressure is 1
bar which results in an initial internal energy E0 of 250 kJ/m3 [20].

3.3 Structural materials

A common model used to describe materials subjected to large deformation, high strain rate
and adiabatic temperature softening is the Johnson and Cook (JC) model. The model is based
on von Mises plasticity, where the yield stress is scaled depending on the state of equivalent
plastic strain, strain rate and temperature. A modified JC model is described by Brvik et
al. in [21], where the equivalent yield stress is defined as

Bneq (1 T m ) ,

eq = A + 1+ (18)
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where A, B, n, C and m are material constants, eq and 0 are the equivalent plastic- and
reference strain rate, respectively. The homologous temperature, T , is defined as T =
(T Tr )/(Tm Tr ), where T is the current temperature, Tr the room- or initial temperature
and Tm the material melting temperature. In this work, the modified JC model is used for the
steel plate Weldox 700E, which undergoes large plastic deformation. The material parameters
for Weldox 700E regarding the modified JC model is given by Brvik et al. in [22], shown in
Table 4. The strain rate parameters and C has been adjusted and used in previous work by
Zakrisson et al. [14], in order to better correlate the model response with the experimental
strain rate experiments presented in [22].

Table 4: Weldox 700E material constants for the modified JC constitutive model [22].

Yield stress Strain hardening Strain rate Temperature softening

A (MPa) B (MPa) n () 0 (s1 ) C () Tr (K) Tm (K) m ()
819 308 0.64 1a 0.0221a 293 1800 1

Elastic constants Density Temperature related coefficients

E (GPa) () (kg/m3 ) Cp (J/kgK) () (K1 )
210 0.33 7850 452 0.9 1.2 105
Modified values compared to reference [22].


In this section, the material characterisation of the soil material is presented. The soil material
used in this work is sandy gravel, with a theoretical maximum density (TMD) of the solid
grains of TMD,s = 2.67 g/cm3 and grain size distribution according to Table 5. The material
is categorized as 0-8 mm Concrete gravel. Three types of experiments are carried out, with
the experimental setups shown in Figure 4. First, confined compression is done in order to
determine the volumetric response, so a compaction curve with pressure versus density can
be created. After that, the cylindrical samples created in the confined compression test are
used in a uniaxial compression test (UCT) or Brazilian disc (BD) tests in order to create a
yield function.

Table 5: Grain size distribution for sandy gravel.

Sieve size (mm) 0.063 0.125 0.25 0.5 1 2 4 8 16

% passing 2 5 11 24 48 71 90 97 100

4.1 Equation of state

The test setup for the confined compression is shown in Figure 4a, together with the definition
of coordinate system. Two-sided compaction is done with a Dartec 250 kN press. The die
has an inner diameter of 25 mm, where the granular sample is filled. The largest grains
were removed in order to keep the sample diameter about 5 times larger than the maximum
grain size in the specimen [1]. The soil sample was moistened to an average moisture content
of 0.94%. The die walls were treated with Zink stearate to reduce the friction during the
compaction. A state of uniaxial strain is assumed, i.e. strain in the z-direction only where
the the radial elasticity of the die is assumed to be negligible during the compaction. Hookes
law can in tensor format be written
ij = 3K (kk ij + (1 2) ij ) , (19)
(1 + )
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Figure 4: Test setups for the material characterisation. In a), the confined compression is shown and
in b), the uniaxial compression is shown, c) shows the Brazilian disc test.

with 11 = 22 = r and 33 = z according to the coordinate system shown in Figure 4a.

For an isotropic material, i.e. ij = ji, the relation between the elastic constants G, K and
is given by Equation (5). The bulk modulus, assuming small strains, is defined as

K= , (20)

where P is pressure defined positive in compression and v is the volumetric strain. In uniaxial
strain, Equation (20) becomes
K= , (21)

Evaluating Equation (19) for z using the assumption of uniaxial strain yields

(1 )
z = 3K z , (22)
(1 + )

Inserting Equation (21) in Equation (22), rearranged for the pressure, we have

(1 + )
P = z , (23)
3 (1 )

where z may be estimated from the surface pressure of the punch, knowing the press force
and punch area. Reported values in the literature regarding Poissons ratio for sandy gravel
is between 0.150.35 [8], where = 0.25 is chosen for this evaluation. Since Equation (23)
is only valid during elastic loading-unloading, it is only the maximum value on the pressure-
density curve and the following elastic unloading that is represented, i.e. not the non-linear
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a) Sandy gravel b) Sandy gravel

Moisture 0.94 % Equation of State
1200 1200
1100 Measurements 1100 Function
Fully compacted Fully compacted
1000 1000
Function Tab. indata
900 2 3 4 5 900 Unloading
p() = k1 + k2* + k3* + k4* + k5* + k6*
800 k1 = -31194 800

P (MPa)
k2 = 86608 700
P (MPa)

k3 = -95882 600
k4 = 52939
500 500
k5 = -14589
400 k6 = 1607 400
300 300
200 200

100 100

1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6
(g/cm3) (g/cm )

Figure 5: In a), measurement data is shown together with polynomial function and fully compacted
line. In b), the corresponding equation of state is shown.

compaction path. The measured maximum values are shown in Figure 5a, representing press
forces 50 kN, 140 kN and 240 kN, resulting in a maximum pressure of about 270 MPa.

Even though Equation (23) is only valid for the elastic loading-unloading, it is used during
the non-linear compaction for all measured press force points to evaluate the test with the
highest density up to 270 MPa. The curve, named Function in Figure 5a, is close to the
measured points at all evaluated pressures, and here used as a reasonable assumption also
for the compaction curve outside the measured points. A 5th order polynomial function is
constructed and used up to the full compaction is reached, given in Figure 5a with coefficients.
The full compaction is assumed linear from the theoretical maximum density of the individual
grains, using the bulk stiffness of Westerly granite with 21501 GPa/(g/cm3 ) [23] (also used
in [6]). The compaction curve is then used to form the input for the EOS model described in
Section 3.1, where 10 tabulated points at equally spaced densities are formed. Since LS-DYNA
uses extrapolation outside the data points, both the two last points is on the fully compacted
curve to ensure the fully compaction line is never exceeded. The elastic unloading is also
defined by 10 tabulated points for each of the 10 pressures. The first value is defined by the
linear unloading between the two first pairs of data points, while the two last points represent
the fully compacted line. The values at the intermediate points are interpolated between the
1st and the 9th value of the bulk modulus. Note that the input data in LS-DYNA is based
on pressure versus logarithmic relative volume, and not density as shown in Figure 5b. The
input data for the unloading is represented by the bulk modulus. The complete input data
for the virgin material tested is shown in Figure 5b is given in Table 6, together with the
corresponding density.

The initial relative volumes for the sample used to create the input data given in Table 6
is a0 = 0.392, w0 =0.017, s0 = 0.591. Using the polynomial function given in Figure 5a
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Table 6: Equation of state data for sandy gravel with 0.94% average moisture content.

Point (kg/m3 ) v () P (MPa) K (MPa)

1 1592 0 0.1 4.3
2 1733 -0.0848629 0.5 7685.1
3 1874 -0.1630841 4.3 15366.0
4 2015 -0.2356281 13.0 23046.7
5 2156 -0.3032636 31.5 30727.6
6 2297 -0.3666128 81.2 38408.4
7 2438 -0.4261869 208.0 46089.3
8 2579 -0.4824106 492.6 53770.1
9 2720 -0.5356408 1075.1 61444.0
10 3000 -0.6336212 7095.4 61444.0

together with Equation (12), (14) and (15), a relation for P(s ) can be derived. For a given
pressure and desired values for the initial relative volumes representing the three phases, a
and w is determined by Equation (12) and (14). The current relative volume for sand, s , is
determined by interpolation from the previously derived relation P(s ). Equation (15) finally
gives the total density of the three-phase system, and completes the soil compaction curve.
The three-phase approach can now be used to create the EOS data corresponding to the
relative volumes representing the field blast trials, given in Table 2.
It is reasonable to assume that the theoretical maximum density for the three-phase medium
should reduce if a greater content of water exist in the medium, since the TMD for water is
lower than the solid grains. The density of air is low in comparison to water and sand and
is therefore neglected. A function for the theoretical maximum density of the three-phase
medium depending on the moisture content is introduced as
TMD = ww0 + (1 w) TMD,s . (24)

Thus, if no water is included in the medium then TMD = TMD,s , and if no solid grains is
included in the medium then TMD = w0 . The bulk stiffness of Westerly granite representing
the fully compacted material is identical for all states, but the start value at P = 0.1 MPa is
shifted to the TMD according to Equation (24).

4.2 Yield function

The yield strength is characterised by means of using two different experimental methods;
uniaxial compression test and Brazilian disc test, (also known as or diametral compression).
For the UCT, a cylindrical sample is manufactured. A height to diameter of 2 is considered
to be sufficient to eliminate the end effects on the strength measurements [1, 5]. There exists
a significant difference in the present study compared to unconfined compaction of concrete
and rock, since the latter samples are casted or taken from a drilled core and not compacted
in a closed die, as in the present case. The height to diameter 2 was initially tested in the
setup, but the wall friction between the sample and die walls was deemed too high, even
though Zink stearate was used to reduce the friction. Further, a specimen with height to
diameter of 2 showed a more significant tendency to form surface cracks during the ejection
phase. Both effects will influence the unconfined compressive strength. For that reason, a
height to diameter of about 1 was chosen, even though the strength is likely to be somewhat
The previously compacted and ejected cylindrical sample using confined compression is placed
on a rigid support, without lateral confinement in the radial direction. The Dartec press pushes
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in the vertical direction, where a uniaxial stress state is assumed. With the von Mises yield
stress defined as r
p 3
q = 3J2 = Sij Sij , (25)
where J2 is the second stress invariant and Sij the deviatoric stress tensor, the shear stress in
uniaxial stress state while the press pushes in the vertical direction becomes

q = |z |. (26)

The hydrostatic pressure is defined by the mean stress as

P = kk , (27)
which in uniaxial stress becomes
P = . (28)
The vertical stress z is, in the same way as for the confined compression test, estimated as
the surface pressure defined by the press force and the punch surface area. When the sample
is compressed, the deviatoric stress will increase according to Equation (26), and successively
expand radially since no confinement exists. When the failure stress is reached, the ability for
the sample to carry strength is successively reduced. The maximum value is thus defined as
the failure strength at pressure defined by Equation (28). The samples corresponding to the
experiments in Figure 5a are evaluated with UCT, where the residual (unloaded) density is
determined after the ejection phase. This gives an individual point on the yield function for
all UCT, related to its density.
The second test used here to form the yield function is the Brazilian disc test, where a biaxial
stress state is experienced by the specimen. The experimental setup for a Brazilian disc test
is shown in Figure 4c, and consists of a frame with two parallel compressive tools and a
load cell mounted into a Dartec 100 kN press. The displacement is measured with a LVDT-
displacement transducer, mounted between the compressive tools with an accuracy of 0.1%
linearity. The load cell measures forces up to 5 kN with an accuracy of 0.5 N. A thin disc
is compressed diametrally, where a thickness over diameter ratio t/D 0.25 ensures plane
stress condition [24]. This introduces tensile force in the positive and negative x-direction
according to Figure 6. The method has evolved from applying a single point load to instead
applying a pressure over a segment. The distributed load decrease the risk of introducing
fracture near the load contact but has almost no influence within the body, and is valid for
angles up to 2 = 22.90 , while the angles used in the experimental setup shown in Figure 4c
is 2 = 14 with the arc radius 12.7 mm [24]. The equations relating the stress at the centre
of the specimen, where the shear failure is expected, is
x (0, 0) = (sin(2) ) . (29)

y (0, 0) = (sin(2) + ) . (30)

xy (0, 0) = 0 (31)
where p is the surface pressure. Substituting the pressure by the press force given by F =
pDt, where D is the diameter and t is the thickness of the disc, the deviatoric stress and the
hydrostatic pressure is determined according to Equation (25) and Equation (27), respectively,
since the other stresses are zero due to plane stress condition. The yield strength for both the
UCT and BD tests are shown in Figure 7. It was difficult to reach equal densities in the two
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ways testing, but at =2.234 g/cm3 points can be connected. As can be seen in the figure,
the inclination of the yield function would not deviate largely if any of the other points would
have been suitable. Since the deviatoric and volumetric response of the yield model used in
the simulations is decoupled, the model is thus independent of density and one yield function
for a general density is sufficient. The relation between shear strength and pressure is close to
linear for soft soils loaded up to 500 MPa [11]. In this work, the failure line is extrapolated up
to the unconfined strength of Pikes Peak granite at 226 MPa [23]] where a von Mises cut-off
is used, in analogy with previous work by Laine and Sandvik [6]. The complete yield function
is shown in Figure 3, and given in tabular form in Table 7. Further, a tensile cut-off of 0.001
Pa is used, which is reasonable since soils with larger grain size are generally considerable
cohesion less [12].



Figure 6: The Brazilian disc test using distributed load.

Figure 7: Yield function for sandy gravel constructed by uniaxial compressive test and Brazilian disc

An attempt was made to determine the Poissons ratio during the BD test with use of digital
speckle photography (DSP) with CCD cameras shown in Figure 4c, using the commercial sys-
tem ARAMIS. The DSP measures movement of small speckle points (usually applied) on the
surface of a specimen, and is for example used to measure localized strains in characterization
of steel materials [25]. The sand has a natural speckle pattern due to the different sizes of
the sand grains, and no external pattern was applied on the surface. The Poissons ratio is
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Table 7: Input data for yield function.

Point P (MPa) q (MPa)

1 -0.067 0
2 80.5 226
3 500 226

evaluated at the center of the specimen, and is according to Hondros [26] defined as

(3x + y )
= , (32)
(3y + x )

where x and y is the strains in the x- and y-directions, respectively. Since Poissons ratio is an
elastic parameter, Equation (32) is only valid in the elastic part of the diametral compression.
The Poissons ratio for two tests are shown in Figure 8, where it seems to be stabilizing
after a short time around = 0.25 0.32. Fracture occurs quickly in the specimen and the
elastic assumption fails, where the Poissons ratio becomes non-linear. This indicates however
that the assumption of = 0.25 used in section 4.1 seems reasonable, even though the DSP
measurements was sensitive where many tests resulted in unsatisfactory data.

Figure 8: Poissons ratio determined with DSP during Brazilian disc testing.

4.3 Comparison to literature

In Figure 9, literature data are shown together with data derived in the present work. Re-
garding the equation of state data shown in Figure 9a, both dry and fully saturated quartz
sand is shown together with sand with moisture content 6.57% and the sandy gravel with
0.94% moisture content. Also, a fully saturated sandy gravel curve is shown, derived using
the three-phase approach. The quartz sand data show that fully saturated state stiffens and
reach its fully compacted state earlier than the dry state. A similar trend can be seen regard-
ing the sandy gravel. The sand and sandy gravel is more porous compared to quartz sand,
which may be explained due to the difference in the grain size and its distribution, see Table 1.
In Figure 9b, the yield function derived in the present work has steeper inclination compared
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to both yield functions from the literature [1, 6]. The literature data was derived using a
triaxial apparatus. The sand & gravel data was derived with the primary aim to characterize
the development of cumulative permanent axial strain with the number of load applications
for different tests [1]. A number of 80000 cycles was done. How the multiple cyclic loading
affects the yield function compared to a single cycle test is not reported.

a) Equation of state b) Yield function

1500 3
Dry quartz [10]
Sat. quartz [10] 2.5
Sand w=6.57% [6]
Sandy gravel w=0.94%
1000 2
Sat. sandy gravel
P (MPa)

q (MPa)


500 1

Sand [6]
Sand & gravel [1]
Sandy gravel (present work)
0 0
1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
(g/cm ) P (MPa)

Figure 9: In a), equation of state data is shown, b) shows the yield function. Literature data is
compared with the present work.

The finite element models and the numerical simulations corresponding to the field blast
trials are described in this section. In order to simulate the large expansion of gases (such
as explosion in sand and air), an Euler description have been used. The structural plate
deformation is described with a Lagrange description, where frictionless contact is defined
between the surrounding structures. A penalty based fluid-structure-interaction (FSI) is used
to couple the state variables from the gases in the Eulerian domain to the structural parts
in the Lagrangian domain [11]. All models and simulations are representing the geometry of
the test rig used in the field blast trials. The experimental geometry is represented in 3D,
which is modelled using quarter symmetry, see to the right in Figure 10. The gas dynamics
of the blast process can however be considered as axisymmetric until the shock wave reaches
the structure. The gas expansion is therefore simulated in a 2D axisymmetric Eulerian model
until the symmetry condition is about to be violated. A map file of the state variables is then
written from the last state of the 2D simulation. The map file is then used to initialise, or
fill, the 3D Eulerian domain with the last state of the 2D simulation, where the sequence
is shown in Figure 10 from left to right. In this way, a denser Euler mesh can be used in the
initial 2D simulation to preserve accuracy of the shock wave build-up, while a coarser Eulerian
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mesh is used in the 3D domain to save computer (CPU) time without significantly reducing
the accuracy. This approach has recently been used by Zakrisson et al. in [13].

Test module
Explosive Target plate

Axis of

Figure 10: To the left, the 2D model is shown prior to detonation. In the middle, the shock wave
reaches the upper boundary of the 2D model. To the right, the 3D model is shown after mapping from
the last 2D state.

5.1 Finite element models

The FE model of both the initial 2D Eulerian model and the 3D Eulerian and Lagrangian
model is shown in Figure 10. The 2D model regarding DOB 0 and 50 mm has dimensions
500 750 mm while DOB 150 mm has dimensions 500 850 mm, with uniform quadrilateral
element size 0.5 mm leading to a total of 1492000 and 1700000 elements respectively. In order
to preserve the accuracy, a uniform 2D mesh size of 0.5 mm was found necessary in free air
detonation using identical stand-off, charge size and geometry in [14], and is thus used here
for detonation in soil as well.

Regarding the 3D Eulerian mesh, smaller element sizes were used closer to the axis of rev-
olution and towards the target plate, with coarser elements towards the boundaries. The
same Eulerian domain is used irrespectively of DOB, and consists of 174000 solid hexagonal
elements in total. The size and mesh distribution in the XZ-view is given in Figure 11, where
the sign # is followed by the number of elements along a distance. The element length bias
ratio across a distance is defined as B = Le,max /Le,min , where Le,max and Le,min is the largest
and smallest element side length respectively. For the 3D model, outflow is prevented on the
two symmetry planes and at the bottom surface, but allowed on the top and outward lateral
boundaries. The Eulerian domain consists of air, soil and explosive.

The Lagrangian domain consists of the test module, including the target plate and plate
holder, and is identical to the model used in [14]. The Lagrangian parts consist of 12180
elements in total, where the target plate is represented by 3600 elements. Only fully inte-
grated shell elements with 5 through thickness integration points have been used for structural
calculations in 3D, where also thickness change due to membrane stretching is accounted for.
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800 mm

#30, B9 550 mm
Le,min = 5.0 mm

#30, B3.25
250 mm
Le,min = 4.3 mm

#10, B1
300 mm
#15, B6
600 mm
Le,min = 14.1 mm

#40, B6
Le,min = 4.5 mm

Figure 11: The XZ-view of the mesh distribution in the Eulerian domain is shown, with a total of
174000 elements. Denser element distribution is located laterally towards the symmetry axis as well
as vertically towards the position of the target plate. Bias B indicates the ratio of the largest/smallest
element length across a distance.

5.2 Simulation cases

Two types of soil materials, with data derived in the present work and data from literature [6],
are used in the simulations and represent the soil conditions of the experiments presented in
Section 2. The simulation cases are presented in Table 8, together with the test conditions of
the soil material. The sandy gravel characterised in section 4 is named SG, and the sand data
derived by Laine and Sandvik in [6] is named S. For the soil type SG, the three-phase model
is used for all characterisations except Case 7, where the virgin (dry) material is used from
Table 6 but adapted to the pre-compacted dry density. Simulation cases 1-6 are based on the
average input data from all wet tests presented in Table 2, while cases 7-8 are based on the dry
tests. Cases 9 and 10 represent the high and low variation of the initial density and saturation
of the wet tests at DOB 50 mm, since there was a large scatter in both the soil state and the
measured response. Case 11 represent fully saturated soil, where no measured data exist for
comparison. However, it represents the conditions suggested for field blast trials in [3]. The
simulation cases are representing the condition of the test with the stand-off distance from
the surface of the sand to the target plate as stated in Section 2. Equation of state data for
the simulation models related to cases 16 and 8 are provided in Table 9.

The mapping from 2D to 3D is used in all simulations, and since all simulations in this work
has different initial conditions, an initial 2D simulation has to be done for every simulation
case. The actual time when the shock wave reaches the boundary in the 2D model deviates
due to the different soil states and burial depths, but is about 0.06, 0.3 and 0.65 ms with
the increasing DOB tested. In 3D, the simulation continues to 2 ms for DOB 0 mm, 4 ms
for DOB 50 mm and 8 ms for DOB 150 mm. At those times, the FSI force is close to zero
and the Eulerian domain is deleted since the blast acting on the structure has past. The
calculation is thereafter restarted to allow the residual deformation of the plate to converge,
and continues until 12 ms for DOB 0 and 50 mm, and 16 ms for DOB 150 mm. The maximum
plate deformation, max , is stored in the calculation, while the residual plate deformation, res ,
is determined with the inner edge of the rigid rig as reference. From the time of the maximum
plate deformation to the simulation end time, a mean value is calculated which represents the
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Table 8: Simulation cases. Soil SG indicates sandy gravel, S indicates sand.

Case DOB (mm) Soil w (%) S (%) 0 (g/cm3 ) Soil state

1 0 SG 7.7 36.8 1.845 Wet
2 0 S 6.57 - 1.845 Wet
3 50 SG 7.7 36.8 1.845 Wet
4 50 S 6.57 - 1.845 Wet
5 150 SG 7.7 36.8 1.845 Wet
6 150 S 6.57 - 1.845 Wet
7 50 SG 0.9 4.1 1.771 Dry
8 50 S 6.57 - 1.771 Dry
9 50 SG 8.3 42.7 1.902 Wet
10 50 SG 7.8 33.4 1.823 Wet
11 50 SG 20.9 100 2.200 Saturated

Table 9: Equation of state data for simulation Case 1-6 and 8.

Case 1, 3, 5 Case 2, 4, 6 Case 8

# (kg/m3 ) (MPa) (MPa) (kg/m3 ) (MPa) (MPa) (kg/m3 ) (MPa) (MPa)
1 1845 0.1 320.9 1845 0.1 8895.8 1771 0.1 5905.8
2 1939 16.1 7624.1 1848 13.0 8895.8 1773 7.2 5905.8
3 2034 33.1 14927.3 1965 25.6 16326.1 1901 18.2 13763.3
4 2128 71.1 22230.5 2083 46.8 23756.5 2030 35.9 21620.7
5 2222 147.1 29533.7 2201 80.0 31186.8 2158 64.4 29478.2
6 2317 279.1 36836.9 2318 140.8 38617.1 2286 120.8 37335.7
7 2411 489.1 44140.1 2436 238.0 46047.4 2415 215.7 45193.1
8 2505 795.1 51443.3 2554 399.8 53477.7 2543 382.6 53050.6
9 2600 1229.9 58255.9 2671 650.7 60908.0 2671 650.7 60908.0
10 2822 6020.3 58255.9 3000 7718.9 60908.0 3000 7718.9 60908.0
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residual plate deformation in the calculations. The impulse is determined by integrating the
total vertical FSI force over time, IFSI, where the end value represents the transferred impulse
to the quarter symmetry model. The presented values in comparison to the experiments are
thus multiplied by four. This is an identical approach as previously used in [14].


The results from all simulation cases are shown in Table 10. A relative comparison between
the numerical results for cases 18 and the experimental results presented in Table 2 is shown
in Figure 12. The filled symbols represent sandy gravel, while blank symbols represent sand.
The symbols diamond, square and circle represent maximum plate deformation, residual plate
deformation and impulse, respectively. Also, an error bar representing the experimental scat-
ter in results is given.

Table 10: Numerical Results.

Case DOB (mm) Soil max (mm) res (mm) IF SI (Ns)
1 0 SG 82.4 75.8 1768
2 0 S 81.3 74.9 1535
3 50 SG 97.0 89.5 2188
4 50 S 97.8 90.8 2307
5 150 SG 75.5 67.2 2461
6 150 S 87.8 79.5 2849
7 50 SG 86.4 81.1 2139
8 50 S 90.6 84.9 2142
9 50 SG 103.4 95.2 2352
10 50 SG 92.1 85.7 2158
11 50 SG 164.5 127.5 3333

In general, no great difference is shown between the two soil parameter setups, even though
the sand model results in overall larger values compared to the sandy gravel model except
for flush buried explosive. The largest deviation in results between the two soil parameter
setups is shown at 150 mm overburden, where the sand model overestimates the response
between 0.633.6%. The sandy gravel model overestimates the residual plate deformation
and underestimates the impulse transfer with about 13%.

The dry soil condition shows good agreement to the experimental results for both sandy gravel
and sand, with total deviation in results between 3.36.3%.

By using the three-phase model, it is possible to tune the input data to the specific state of
the sand at the test. Case 9 and 10 uses the lower and upper variations of density and relative
volumes of the corresponding test at 50 mm depth of burial. The numerical comparison to the
corresponding experimental result is shown in Figure 13. With the upper limit of input data,
both maximum and residual plate deformation is close to the corresponding experimental
result. The impulse is however underestimated with about 20%, even though an increase
of 164 Ns can be seen when comparing Case 3 to Case 9. With the lower limit of input
data regarding Case 10, the comparison is less accurate. Case 11 represents fully saturated
sand, where no experimental data exist for comparison. A significant increase in both plate
deformation and impulse is seen compared to the other numerical and experimental results.
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Figure 12: Numerical results for Case 18, relative to the experimental results given with confidence
bounds from the experiments. Black markers represents sandy gravel, white markers represents sand.
Diamonds, squares and circles represents max plate deformation, residual plate deformation and im-
pulse, respectively.
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Figure 13: Numerical results for Case 9 and 10, relative to the experimental results given with confi-
dence bounds from the experiments. Diamonds, squares and circles represents max plate deformation,
residual plate deformation and impulse, respectively.


Blast experiments have been investigated in an earlier work, with explosive located in moist-
ened sandy gravel at three different burial depths, where also dry soil state has been tested
at one burial depth. In the wet soil experiments, the average moisture content was 7.7%.
One purpose with the experiments was to collect data to be used for validation of numerical
modelling of the blast process.
In this work, material characterisation of sandy gravel at low moisture content has been
presented. Even though a relatively simple approach of characterisation has been used, the
derived data compares reasonably well with similar data reported in the literature. A DSP
technique has been used as an attempt to determine the Poissons ratio for a compacted soil
specimen. Even though many tests showed unreliable results, it seems like an interesting
approach for further evaluation. One suggestion for further study is to apply an external
speckle pattern on the sand surface, instead of using the natural grains of the specimen for
speckle correlation.
A three-phase model representing the soil skeleton has been used in order to analytically
construct material parameters depending on the relative volumes of sand, air and water, i.e.
different degrees of water saturation. The characterised material data has, together with data
representing sand taken from literature, been used as input for numerical simulations where a
comparison against the experimental blast results has been made. The literature data for sand
consists of 6.57% moisture content, and permits no option to use the three-phase model to
adjust for different water contents. When simulating dry soil, the density has been changed
but the input data still represents 6.57% moisture content.
When the numerical simulations for dry soil are considered, good agreement for both sand
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and sandy gravel is shown against the experimental results. However, the numerical results
using the sand material slightly overshoots the results for sandy gravel. One explanation may
be that the moisture content of 6.57% is still represented in the sand data, while sandy gravel
only consists of about 0.94% moisture content. For flush buried explosive, all numerical results
underestimated the measured values with about 1012% except for the sand material, which
underestimated the impulse with 23%. No reason has been found for this large difference in
impulse between sandy gravel and sand at 0 mm overburden. Experience from earlier work
shows that an underestimation of about 10% may be expected concerning the plate response,
when the explosive gas is expanding freely in air using a similar numerical approach as in
this work [14]. However, an underestimation of only about 11.5% is expected regarding the
impulse. At 50 mm burial depth, both models of sandy gravel and sand gave satisfactory
results regarding the plate deformation, with an underestimation 1.15.4% compared to the
average experimental result. The impulse was underestimated with 1216.6%. However, a
large deviation in the experimentally measured impulse was seen, and if the numerical results
are compared against the lowest experimentally measured impulse, the numerical deviation
is only about 2.5%. The largest deviation in results between the two soil parameter setups
was experienced at 150 mm DOB. The sand model overestimated the experimental results
up to 33.4%, while the numerical results using the sandy gravel model deviate 13%. One
reason for this deviation between the models may be that accurate soil response is of more
importance at larger burial depths.
The three-phase model was used to simulate individual tests at 50 mm DOB, using the upper
and lower values of density and saturation, where results are compared to the corresponding
experimental values. The impulse was underestimated with about 2026%. For the upper
values of the input data, the plate response was within 1.5% of the experimental values, while
the results using the lower values underestimated the corresponding experimental results with
The density and water content measurements in the blast trials were done manually using
a confined volume, hence there exist an experimental uncertainty regarding the state and
uniformity of the soil. There was a large scatter in the density and water content measurements
at 50 mm depth of burial in wet soil, along with the experimental results. Even though, the
large underestimation of the impulse in the corresponding numerical simulations can perhaps
be attributed uncertain initial conditions.
Altogether, the numerical results using material data for sand taken from the literature showed
in general good agreement to the experimental results, except at 150 mm depth of burial.
The material data derived for sandy gravel along with use of the three-phase model showed
acceptable results at all explosive burial depths. Further validation of the three-phase model
should if possible be carried out at a greater variation of saturations, with more reliable
determination of the initial state of the soil.

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