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Compactivity and transmission of stress in granular materials

S. F. Edwards and D. V. Grinev
Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OHE, United Kingdom
共Received 16 February 1999; accepted for publication 7 July 1999兲
We outline a statistical-mechanical theory of granular materials. Stress propagation and force
fluctuations in static granular media are still poorly understood. We develop the
statistical-mechanical theory that delivers the fundamental equations of stress equilibrium. The
formalism is based on the assumptions that grains are rigid, cohesionless, and that friction is perfect.
Since grains are assumed perfectly rigid, no strain or displacement field can enter the equations for
static equilibrium of the stress field. The complete system of equations for the stress tensor is
derived from the equations of intergranular force and torque balance, given the geometric
specification of the material. These new constitutive equations are indeed fundamental and are based
on relations between various components of the stress tensor within the material, and depend on the
topology of the granular packing. The problem of incorporating into the formalism the ‘‘no tensile
forces’’ constraint is considered. The compactivity concept is reviewed. We discuss the relation
between the concept of compactivity and the problem of stress transmission. © 1999 American
Institute of Physics. 关S1054-1500共99兲03103-2兴

In recent years there has been an upsurge in interest in Newton’s equations of mechanical equilibrium. Thus, in
granular materials as a topic in physics.1–5 The interest order for the network of intergranular forces to be per-
as a physics topic stems from its position as a culmination fectly defined, the number of equations must equal the
of studies of mechanics which start with conservative dy- number of unknowns. This can be achieved by choosing
namics and its attendant statistical mechanics, through the contact network with a certain fixed coordination
problems such as fluid mechanics and viscoelasticity with number. In this case the system of equations for inter-
their attendant Smoluchowski and Langevin equations, granular forces has a unique solution and the complete
reaching powders and soils where processes are domi- system of equations for the stress tensor can be derived.
nated by friction, are irreversible, and have possesion of The inability of an intergranular contact to support ten-
vital memories. Why look at the statistical mechanics of sile forces gives an additional constraint on the geometry
granular materials? There is a common need to deter-
of contact network that can be incorporated into the
mine properties of such a system on a macroscopic scale,
compactivity formalism.
from an initial description of the system on a relatively
small „of order of a grain size… but finite scale. A theoret-
ical understanding of granular materials is of great im- I. INTRODUCTION
portance, since the range of regimes of behavior, and pos-
sible types of particles, is too large to explore empirically. Despite their seeming simplicity, granular media present
The compactivity concept has been invented6 in order to a fascinating array of challenging problems,1–5 and are the
describe the bulk properties of static granular aggregates key to a number of important technologies.7–9 In this paper
within the framework of statistical mechanics. Compac- we consider aggregates of rigid cohesionless grains with per-
tivity can be interpreted as being characteristic of the
fect friction. A typical granular packing is a system with a
number of ways it is possible to arrange the grains in the
large number of individual particles. Grains interact with
packing into a volume ⌬V such that the disorder is ⌬S.
each other via contact forces which are determined by fric-
Consequently, the two limits of compactivity are 0 and ⴥ,
tion, gravitational loading, and amplitude of an exernal force
which correspond to the most and least compact arrange-
ments, respectively. The random geometry of a static applied to the system. Clearly we have a classical many-
granular packing can be visualized as a network of inter- body problem and it is tempting to invoke the fundamental
granular contacts. For any aggregate of rigid particles ideas of statistical mechanics in order to derive equations
the transmission of stress from one point to another can governing the behavior of granular materials. It is important
occur only via the intergranular contacts. Therefore, the to have a formalism that would allow one to calculate mac-
contact network determines the network of intergranular roscopic averages in terms of microscopic 共i.e., of individual
forces. In general, the contact network can have a coor- grains or their clusters兲 properties of the system. From a
dination number varying within the system and different mathematical point of view, the development of such a
for every particular packing. It follows then that the net- theory is extremely difficult as it should incorporate a math-
work of intergranular forces is indeterminate, i.e., the ematical description of random geometry of granular pack-
number of unknown forces is larger than the number of ings. The mathematics should also have a reliable averaging

1054-1500/99/9(3)/551/8/$15.00 551 © 1999 American Institute of Physics

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552 Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 S. F. Edwards and D. V. Grinev

the vector from R␣ to R␣␤ , and the distance between grains

R␣␤ ␣ and ␤ . Grain ␣ exerts a force on grain ␤ at a point
R␣␤ ⫽R␣ ⫹r␣␤ . The contact is a point in a plane whose
normal is n␣␤ . The vector R␣ is defined by 共see Fig. 1兲
兺 ␤ R␣␤
R␣ ⫽ , 共1兲
so that R␣ is the centroid of contacts, and hence

兺␤ r␣␤ ⫽0, R␣␤ ⫽r␤␣ ⫺r␣␤ , 共2兲

where z is the number of contacts per grain and 兺 ␤ means

FIG. 1. Detail of two grain contact. summation over the nearest neighbors. Hence R␣ , r␣␤ , and
n␣␤ are geometrical properties of the aggregate under con-
sideration and the other shape specifications do not enter.
procedure as the final answer we aim to find involves the Friction is assumed to be infinite and the geometry is
macroscopic and measurable quantities, e.g., density of the frozen after the deposition and cannot be changed by apply-
system ␳ (r) or its stress tensor ␴ i j (r). ing or removing an external force on the boundaries. In a
In the present paper we consider static packings of rigid static array Newton’s equations of intergranular force and
grains. In our opinion it is the starting point for developing a torque balance are satisfied. Balance of force around the
physical theory of stress transmission in such systems. Let us grain requires
consider a stable granular array. What are the physical quan-

tities that describe this object? Apparently the basic ones are
f ␣␤ ␣
i ⫽g i , 共3兲
the packing fraction and the macroscopic stress tensor. It is
obvious that these two are related because the stress within
the material depends on the geometry of the packing. In this f ␣␤ ␤␣
i ⫹ f i ⫽0, 共4兲
paper we will try to establish a mathematical approach which
where g␣ is the external force acting on grain ␣ . Further on
relates the microscopic stress to the tensors that describe the
in this section g is used also for the external forces at the
geometry of the system. We speculate that the macroscopic
stress has a concomitant macroscopic quantity X that charac-
The equation of torque balance is
terizes the packing. This quantity is called compactivity and
we briefly review the concept in Sec. III.
兺␤ ⑀ ikl f ␣␤ ␣␤ ␣
k r l ⫽C i . 共5兲
The centroid of the contact points need not coincide with
One of the most important problems in mechanics of the centroid of the forces, e.g., the center of mass of a solid
granular media is the development of continuum constitutive grain, but we will assume it is so in order to keep the analy-
equations. In the context of continuum mechanics, the term sis simple so that we ensure that the macroscopic stress ten-
constitutive equation or constitutive relation means a relation sor is symmetric, at least on average. It can be verified that,
between stress and strain. Since the number of the compo- for the intergranular forces in the static array to be deter-
nents of the macroscopic stress tensor is greater than the mined by these equations, the coordination number z⫽3 in
number of equations of mechanical equilibrium, the problem two dimensions 共2D兲 and z⫽4 in three dimensions 共3D兲 is
is statically indeterminate. Constitutive relations are intro- required. The microscopic version of stress analysis is to
duced in order to close the system of governing conservation determine all of the intergranular forces, given the applied
equations. A common way of dealing with this problem is to force, torque loadings on each grain, and geometric specifi-
consider deformable or soft grains and introduce the stress– cation of a granular array. The number of unknowns per
strain relation 共e.g., Hertz’s兲. If the material is constructed of grain is zd/2. Required force and torque equations give d
rigid or hard particles, then all strains of such a medium are ⫹ d(d⫺1)/2 constraints. The system of equations for the
merely a consequence of mutual displacements of grains. intergranular forces is complete when the coordination num-
The difficulty is that we lack the fundamental constitutive ber is z m ⫽d⫹1. Theory which confirms this observation has
equations; those that exist are often limited or been proposed for periodic arrays of grains with zero
unreliable.10–12 We model the granular material as an assem- friction.13 It is clear that the coordination number z controls
bly of discrete rigid particles whose interactions with their the connectivity of granular media. We will assume that z is
neighbors are localized at pointlike contacts. Therefore the indeed 3 in 2D, for this is surely the simplest situation, and
description of the network of intergranular contacts is essen- one which is physically possible. The goal, however, is to
tial for the understanding of force transmission in granular determine the macroscopic stress tensor at every point of a
assemblies. Figure 1 shows the quantities involved when granular array, given external loadings and geometric speci-
static equilibrium is set up in a granular array. We will need fication. The macroscopic state of stress is a function of the
z contact points vectors R␣␤ , centroid of a grain ␣ R␣ , r␣␤ distribution of contact forces. For any aggregate of discrete

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Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 Stress in granular materials 553

grains subjected to external loading, the transmission of one missing equation, and we derive it in terms of the geom-
stress from one point to another can only occur via the inter- etry of the system below. Given the set of Eqs. 共3兲–共5兲 we
granular contacts. Therefore it is clear that the network of can write the probability functional for the integranular force
contacts determines the distribution of stresses within the f ␣␤
i j as

冉兺 冊 冉兺 冊
granular array. The network of contacts is determined by the
deposition history of the sample and the external loading on P 兵 f ␣␤
i 其 ⫽N␦ f i␣␤ ⫺g i␣ ␦ ⑀ ikl f ␣␤ ␣␤
k rl
the boundaries. We define the tensorial force moment: ␤ ␤

⫻ ␦ 共 f i␣␤ ⫹ f ␤␣
i 兲, 共11兲
S ␣i j ⫽ 兺␤ f ␣␤ ␣␤
i rj , 共6兲
where the normalization, N, which is a function of a con-
which is the microscopic analogue of the stress tensor. With figuration, is
C i␣ ⫽0, S ␣i j will be symmetric.
Our goal is to find a complete system of equations for
the macroscopic stress tensor ␴ i j , which is supported by the
N ⫺1 ⫽ 冕兿 ␣,␤
P 兵 f ␣␤
i 其 Df
. 共12兲

given network of contacts in the state of mechanical equilib- The probability of finding the tensorial force moment S ␣i j
rium. Given an assembly of discrete grains which is repre- on grain ␣ is

冕 兿 ␦冉 冊
sented by a very complex network of contacts, we associate
a continuous medium to have continuously distributed prop-
erties. Such spatial smoothing or coarse graining can be ac-
P 兵 S ␣i j 其 ⫽M
S ␣i j ⫺ 兺␤ f i␣␤ r ␣␤
j P 兵 f ␣␤
i 其 Df

complished formally. To obtain the macroscopic stress ten- 共13兲

sor from the tensorial force moment to the macroscopic where 兰 Df implies integration over all functions f ␣␤ ,
stress tensor we coarse grain or average it over an ensemble since all the constraints on f ␣␤ have been experienced. We
of configurations: assume that the z⫽d⫹1 condition means that the integral

␴ i j 共 r兲 ⫽ 冓兺N

␣ ⫽1

S ␣i j ␦ 共 r⫺R␣ 兲 . 共7兲
exists. The algebra that follows, aims to transform Eq. 共13兲

In the simplest cases of isotropic and homogeneous ar- P 兵 S ␣i j 其 ⫽ 兿

␦ 共 K ␣␤ ␤ ␣ ␣␤ ␤
i jk S jk ⫹g i 兲 ␦ 共 P i jk S jk 兲 , 共14兲
rays this is not a problem. The difficulties appear when the
array under consideration is anisotropic or inhomogeneous. where the delta functions give the complete system of equa-
Within the confines of this paper we explore only the sim- tions for all S ␣i j . The normalization, M, which is a function
plest cases. Let us give a simple illustration of our theory. of a configuration, is given by

冕 兿 ␦冉 冊
Suppose that there exists a granular packing for which we
can ‘‘invert’’ Nd(d⫹1)/2 Eqs. 共6兲 and write M ⫺1 ⫽
S ␣i j ⫺ 兺␤ f i␣␤ r ␣␤
j P 兵 f ␣␤
i 其 Df
DS ␣i j .
f ␣␤ ␤␣ ␣
i ⫽A ikl S kl . 共8兲 共15兲
After invoking Newton’s third law 共4兲 and Eqs. 共3兲 and 共5兲 We exponentiate the delta functions and thus introduce
one obtains a complete system of equations for tensorial the set of conjugate fields ␨ ␣i j , ␥ ␣i , ␭ i␣ , and ␩ ␣␤
i ,
force moments S ␣i j ,

兺␤ ␣␤ ␤
A ikl S kl ⫹g i␣ ⫽0 共9兲
P 兵 S ␣i j 其 ⫽ 冕兿 e iA Df ␣␤ D␨ ␣ D␥ ␣ D␭ ␣ D␩ ␣␤ , 共16兲

where A is

冉 冊 冉兺 冊
A⫽ 兺␣ ␨ ␣i j S ␣i j ⫺ 兺␤ f ␣␤ ␣␤
i rj ⫹ ␥ ␣i f ␣␤ ␣
i ⫺g i
兺␤ ⑀ i jk A ␣␤ ␤ ␣␤
jlm S lm r k ⫽0. 共10兲 ␤

There are two ways to deal with these discrete equations.

The first one is to average them and obtain continuous equa-
⫹␭ i␣ 冉兺 ␤
⑀ ikl f k␣␤ r ␣␤
l 冊
⫹ ␩ ␣␤ ␣␤ ␤␣
i 共 f i ⫹ f i 兲. 共17兲

tions for the macroscopic stress tensor. The second way is to The ␭ ␣ field term gives the symmetry of S ␣i j . After integrat-
solve them and then average solution. The number of mac- ing out the f ␣␤ and ␩ ␣␤ fields we find the following linear
roscopic equations required equals the number of indepen- equation for the conjugate fields:
dent components of a symmetric stress tensor ␴ i j ⫽ ␴ ji and is
␨ ␣i j r ␣␤ ␣ ␤ ␤␣ ␤
j ⫺ ␥ i ⫽ ␨ ik r k ⫺ ␥ i . 共18兲
d(d⫹1)/2. At the same time, the number of equations avail-
able is d. These are vector equations of the stress equilibrium The idea of the conjugate fields method is to use these
⳵␴ i j / ⳵ x j ⫽g i which have their origin in Newton’s second equations for the ␨ field in the stress probability functional,
law. Therefore we have to find d(d⫺1)/2 equations, which in order to derive the complete system of equations for the
possess the information from Newton’s third law, to com- stress tensor. The general solution of Eq. 共18兲 is a sum of the
plete and solve the system of equations which governs the ␨ 0 field which is the particular solution and depends on ␥ ,
transmission of stress in a granular array. Thus in 2D there is and ␨ * which is the complimentary function

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554 Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 S. F. Edwards and D. V. Grinev

␨ ␣i j ⫽ ␨ ␣i j0 ⫹ ␨ ␣i j* .

If we introduce the fabric tensor F ␣i j and its inverse


M ␣i j :
冕 exp i 冉兺 ␣ ⫽1

␨ ␣i j* (S ␣i j ⫺ ␾ ␣ F ␣i j ⫺ ␺ ␣ G ␣i j ) 冊

F ␣i j ⫽ 兺␤ R ␣␤ ␣␤
i Rj , M ␣i j ⫽ 共 F ␣ 兲 ⫺1
ij , 共20兲 ⫻ 兿␣ D␨ ␣i j* D␾ ␣ D␺ ␣ , 共28兲

where F ␣i j is given by 共20兲 and

we can rewrite Eq. 共18兲 in the following form:

␨ ␣i j ⫽M ␣jl 兺␤ R ␣␤ ␣ ␤ ␣
l 共 ␥ i ⫺ ␥ i 兲 ⫹M jl 兺␤ R ␣␤ ␤␣ ␤ ␣
l r k 共 ␨ ik ⫺ ␨ ik 兲 .
G ␣i j ⫽
2 冉兺 ␤
Q ␣␤ ␣␤ ␣␤ ␣␤
i R j ⫹Q j R i . 冊 共29兲

共21兲 We would like to note that the system under consideration is

disordered and therefore Q␣ ⫽0 共whereas for a honeycomb
The next step is to integrate out the ␥ field which gives periodic array Q␣ ⫽0). After integrating out the ␨ ␣ * , ␾ ␣ ,
us the stress-force equation: and ␺ ␣ fields, we find the following equation for S ␣i j :

冏 冏
␣ ␣ ␣
S 11 F 11 G 11
兺␤ M ␣jl R l␣␤ S ␣i j ⫺ 兺␤ M ␤jl R l␤␣ S ␤i j ⫽g ␣i . 共22兲
S ␣12 ␣ ␣
F 12 G 12 ⫽0. 共30兲
␣ ␣ ␣
By expanding ␤ quantities about ␣ quantities we reach: S 22 F 22 G 22

ⵜ j ␴ i j ⫹ⵜ j ⵜ k ⵜ m K i jkl ␴ lm ⫹ . . . ⫽g i , 共23兲 Note that although there are explicit forms generalizing 共30兲
in 3D, these are more complex algebraically as a conse-
where K i jkl ⫽ 具 R ␣␤ ␣␤ ␣␤ ␣␤
i R j R k R l 典 and gives a correction to the
quence of the higher coordination number.
standard equation of stress equilibrium ⵜ j ␴ i j ⫽g i at the We have derived the fundamental equations of stress
length scale which is small compared to the size of the sys- equilibrium:
tem. These corrections correspond to the presence of the sec- ⵜ j ␴ i j ⫹ⵜ j ⵜ k ⵜ m K i jkl ␴ lm ⫹¯⫽g i , 共31兲
ond, third, etc., nearest neighbors and topological correla-
tions and must vanish in the k→0 limit. Throughout this P i jk ␴ jk ⫹ⵜ j T i jkl ␴ kl ⫹ⵜ j ⵜ l U i jkl ␴ km ⫹¯⫽0. 共32兲
section we assumed that the granular aggregate under con-
In order to solve Eqs. 共31兲 and 共32兲 one needs to know the
sideration is homogeneous and put the average density ␳ (r)
geometric quantities P i jk , T ikl , and U i jkl . In practice details
⫽1. So far the well-known equations have been derived by
of the distribution of intergranular contacts are not known in
using the information from Newton’s second law. But we
advance, but should be obtained from the deposition history
still have unused information from Newton’s third law. By
of the system or experimental measurements of two-body
integrating out the ␨ * field we obtain the missing equations
correlation functions. The simplest array will have Q␣␤ or-
we are looking for.
thogonal to R␣ , i.e., if R␣␤ ⫽(X ␣␤ ,Y ␣␤ ), then Q␣␤ ⫽(Y ␣␤ ,
We show the explicit analysis in the simplest cases. We
⫺X ␣␤ ). It follows, that F ␣i j and G ␣i j can be written as
start with

P 兵 S ␣i j 其 ⫽ 冕 exp i 冉兺 N

␣ ⫽1
␨ ␣i j* S ␣i j 冊 F ␣i j ⫽ 冉 冊
, G ␣i j ⫽ 冉 sin ␪ ␣
cos ␪ ␣
cos ␪ ␣
⫺sin ␪ ␣
冊 . 共33兲

The leading terms of the system of equations 共31兲 and 共32兲

arise from the system of discrete linear equations for S ␣i j

⫻ ␦ 共 ␨ ␣i j* r ␣␤ ␤ ␤␣
j ⫺ ␨ i j* r j 兲 兿
␣ ⫽1
D␨ ␣i j* , 共24兲 which can be rewritten in the following form:

wherein ␨ * must satisfy 兺␤ S ␣i j M ␣jk R k␣␤ ⫺S ␤i j M ␤jk R k␤␣ ⫽g ␣i , 共34兲

␨ ␣i j* r ␣␤ ␤ ␤␣
j ⫺ ␨ i j* r j ⫽0. 共25兲 ␣ ␣ ␣
S 11 ⫺S 22 ⫽2S 12 tan ␪ ␣ . 共35兲
␣␤ ␣␤ ␣␤ ␤␣
Using R and Q ⫽r ⫹r , we can ‘‘project’’ this vec- For a homogeneous and isotropic packing Eq. 共35兲 gives
tor equation into two scalar equations: the microscopic stress tensor S ␣i j ⫽ p ␣ ␦ i j , which is simply
hydrostatic pressure, as is to be expected. Rotating S ␣i j by
␨ ␣i j* 兺␤ R ␣␤
i R j ⫹ 兺 共 ␨ i j* ⫺ ␨ i j* 兲 r j R i ⫽0,

␣ ␤ ␤␣ ␣␤
共26兲 some arbitrary angle ␪ ␣ .
At this point it is tempting to average Eq. 共35兲. However,
in this problem, the averaging procedure is very subtle. If
␨ ␣i j* 兺␤ Q i␣␤ R ␣␤
j ⫹ 兺 共 ␨ i j* ⫺ ␨ i j* 兲 r j Q i ⫽0,

␣ ␤ ␤␣ ␣␤
共27兲 one tries to do a mean-field approximation and replace every
quantity by its average over the first coordination shell 关i.e.,
S ␣i j with ␴ i j (r)⫽ 1/(z⫹1) 兺 first coord shellS ␣i j ␦ (r⫺R␣ )] real
and assuming as before that ␨ ␣i j* ⫺ ␨ ␤i j* gives rise to gradient
difficulties arise. We have:
terms we can exponentiate 共26兲 and 共27兲 by parametric vari-
ables ␾ ␣ and ␺ ␣ : 具 A 典 ␴ 11⫹ 具 B 典 ␴ 22⫹ 具 C 典 ␴ 12⫽0 共36兲

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Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 Stress in granular materials 555

as the mean field stress-geometry equation. The term ‘‘mean- g 2 共 k 32 ⫹3k 21 k 2 兲 ⫹g 1 共 k 1 k 22 ⫺k 31 兲

field’’ here refers to the fact that all correlations between the i ␴ 22共 k兲 ⫽ 具 S 22共 k兲 典 ␪ ⫽ ,
vectors r␣␤ due to the presence of steric constraints are ne- 兩 k兩 4
glected. Finally we obtain 共42兲

␴ 11⫽ ␴ 22 . 共37兲 共 g 1 k 2 ⫺g 2 k 1 兲共 k 22 ⫺k 21 兲
i ␴ 12共 k兲 ⫽ 具 S 12共 k兲 典 ␪ ⫽ , 共43兲
Equation 共31兲 is delivered by the simplest mean-field 兩 k兩 4
approximation for the case of an isotropic and homogeneous where 兩 k兩 2 ⫽k 21 ⫹k 22 and ␴ i j (r)⫽ 兰 ␴ i j (k)e ikrd 3 k. By doing
disordered array. Though Eq. 共37兲 provides us with the diag- the inverse Fourier transformation one can see that the mac-
onal stress tensor ␴ i j ⫽p ␦ i j as the solution of the complete roscopic stress tensor is diagonal. There must also be con-
system of equations, it is not rotationally invariant. The only straints on the permitted configurations 共due to the absence
linear, algebraic, and rotationally invariant equation is of tensile forces兲 which are not so easily expressed, for they
Tr ␴ i j ⫽0. However, this equation cannot be accepted, for a affect each grain in the form
stable granular aggregate does not support tensile stresses.
We believe that, at least in the simplest case, the fundamen- S ␣ik M ␣kl R ␣␤ ␣␤
l n i ⬎0, 共44兲
tal equation for the microscopic stress tensor should be linear which has not yet been put into continuum equations other
and algebraic 共because of the linearity of Newton’s second than Det ␴ ⬎0 and Tr ␴ ⬎0. Equation 共44兲 is derived by add-
law for intergranular forces兲. However, if the system is ing the inequality f␣␤ •n␣␤ ⬎0 into Eq. 共13兲, exponentiating
strongly anisotropic 共i.e. there exists a preferred direction the theta function and integrating out the intergranular force.
characterized by some angle ␾ ) and tan ␪ ␣ has an average In practice, detail of intergranular contacts is not known
value tan ␾ , then Eq. 共35兲 becomes in the mean-field ap- in advance, but should be deduced from the deposition his-
proximation tory of the system. Truly history dependent problems are
␴ 11⫺ ␴ 22⫽2 ␴ 12 tan ␾ , 共38兲 outside the scope of this paper, but for granular systems
which have consolidated or sheared under the applied load-
where ␾ is the angle of repose. It is known as the fixed ing, and for pseudoelastic assemblies which have undergone
principal axes equation,14–17 and has been used with notable significant deformation and rearrangement under stress, we
effect to solve the problem of the stress distribution in sand- can consider the approximation that the current stress itself
piles. It is possible to give a probabilistic interpretation of influences the contact geometry. Another important issue

Eq. 共35兲. Thus if we are given S 12 , the probability of finding which is not addressed here is that of a response of a granular
␣ ␣
S 11⫺S 22 is aggregate to external perturbations. In general, cohesionless
␣ granular materials are thought to be quasistatic or
2 兩 S 12 兩

P 兵 S 11 ␣
⫺S 22 ␣
兩 S 12其⫽ . 共39兲 ‘‘fragile,’’19 which means that they cannot support certain
␲ 共 S 11⫺S 22兲 ⫹ 共 S 12
␣ ␣ 2 ␣ 2
兲 types of infinitesimal changes in stress without configura-
tional rearrangements.
Mathematically it is more convenient to introduce ( ␰ ␣ ) 2
␣ ␣ 2 ␣ 2
⫽(S 11 ⫺S 22 ) ⫹(S 12 ) and determine the probability of find-
␣ ␣
ing S 11⫺S 22 given ␰ ␣ , III. COMPACTIVITY

␣ ␣
1 1 Let us consider a static granular array described in Sec.
P 兵 S 11 ⫺S 22兩 ␰ ␣其 ⫽ . 共40兲
2␲ 冑共 ␰ ␣ 2
兲 ␣
⫺ 共 S 11 ⫺S ␣22兲 2 II. Mathematical description of the geometry of this system
is a difficult problem with a long history of study. It is pos-
␣ ␣ ␣
The mean values of S 11 ⫺S 22 and S 12 are zero, hence we sible, in principle, to describe a given packing in terms of
predict, rather obviously, hydrostatic pressure. However, no- positional coordinates, i.e., a set of vectors that define posi-
tice that we are able to predict the fluctuations away from tions of the center of mass of every individual particle and
hydrostatic pressure, and would do more on correlations if points of contact. Given the shape of particles and the depo-
one could find a pathway to measure them. Another ap- sition history of the sample one can determine its volume
proach to deal with the system of discrete equations 共34兲 and and packing fraction. The structure of a packing can be di-
共35兲 is to solve it for S ␣i j , and then average the solution. This vided into local structures in a number of different ways,
way seems to be feasible at least for the simplest granular e.g., using Voronoi tesselations or Bernal polyhedra. We in-
systems 共e.g., isotropic or periodic arrays兲 and may provide troduce the volume function W which will depend on the
deep insight into the origins of the non-Gaussian statistics of coordinates of the grains and their orientations and is the
stress fluctuations.18 In complex cases this can be accom- analog of a Hamiltonian. We denote it as W⫽W 兵 R␣␤ 其
plished in some approximation, or by using computer simu- where 兵 R␣␤ 其 is the set of contact point vectors. This con-
lations. By applying Fourier transformation to 共34兲 and 共35兲 venient notation means that the volume function is written in
one can obtain S i j (k). The macroscopic stress tensor is ob- terms of these vectors. Is it reasonable to assume that all
tained by averaging over the distribution of angles ␪ ␣ , microscopic configurations of a given volume are equally
probable? In many cases the mechanism of deposition will
g 1 共 k 31 ⫹3k 22 k 1 兲 ⫹g 2 共 k 32 ⫺k 21 k 2 兲 leave a history in the configuration but this will not be con-
i ␴ 11共 k兲 ⫽ 具 S 11共 k兲 典 ␪ ⫽ ,
兩 k兩 4 sidered here. Averaging over all the possible microscopic
共41兲 configurations of the grains in the space of parameters 共that

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556 Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 S. F. Edwards and D. V. Grinev

describe their orientations and positions with respect to each where ␭ is a constant which gives the entropy the dimension
other兲 gives us a configurational statistical ensemble. Since of volume, and Y is the effective volume, it is the analog of
we are assuming that we are dealing with a system whose the free energy:
constituents are hard 共i.e., impenetrable兲 we have to include
some account of this in our formalism in order to reduce the
number of possible configurations the system may occupy.
e ⫺ Y /␭X ⫽ 冕 e ⫺ W/␭X 兵 DR␣␤ 其 , 共51兲

Also for a packing which is stable under applied force we ⳵Y

must consider the configurations restricting the number of V⫽Y ⫺X . 共52兲
possible volume states that the system may occupy to be
only those configurations which are stable 共i.e., the inter- To illustrate this theory consider the simplest example of
granular forces satisfy Newton’s equations and tensile forces a W, the analog of Bragg–Williams approximation:20 each
are absent兲. Also grains cannot overlap and this condition grain has neighbors touching it with a certain coordination
produces very strong constraints 共frustration兲 on their rela- and angular direction. In order to set up an analogy with the
tive positions. Of course in the real powder the topological statistical mechanics of alloys we assume that each grain has
defects can exist such as vacancies, voids, or arches. They a certain property, which defines the ‘‘interaction’’ with its
will not be considered in the paper. Given all these argu- nearest neighbors. Taking the coordination number of a grain
ments the ‘‘microcanonical’’ probability distribution can be as such a property and assuming that there are just two types
written: of coordination z 0 and z 1 we assign a volume v i to any grain
with z i coordination number. Thus we write the volume
P⫽e ⫺ S/␭ ␦ 共 V⫺W 兲 . 共45兲
function as
The normalization gives
W⫽n 0 v 0 ⫹ 共 N⫺n 0 兲v 1 , 共53兲
e S/␭ ⫽ 冕␦ 共 V⫺W 兲 兵 DR␣␤ 其 , 共46兲 where N is the number of grains in the system, n i is the
number of grains with the coordination number z i , and N
where 兵 DR␣␤ 其 means the integration over all degrees of ⫽n 0 ⫹n 1 . The simple calculation of Y and V gives
freedom of the volume function W. One can see that the
共 v 0⫹ v 1 兲 共 v 0⫺ v 1 兲
phase space of thermal statistical mechanics is replaced with Y ⫽N ⫺N␭X ln 2 cosh , 共54兲
the configurational space. In conventional statistical mechan- 2 ␭X
ics the microcanonical distribution is 共 v 0⫹ v 1 兲 共 v 0⫺ v 1 兲 共 v 0⫺ v 1 兲
⫺ S/k V⫽N ⫹N tanh . 共55兲
P⫽e ␦ 共 E⫺H 兲 , 共47兲 2 2 ␭X
Temperature is defined as Thus we have two limits: V⫽N v 0 , when X→0 and V
⫽N( v 0 ⫹ v 1 )/2 when X→⬁ (N is a number of grains兲. Note
T⫽ . 共48兲 that the maximum V is not N v 1 just as in the thermal system
⳵S 共say a spin in a magnetic field兲 with two energy levels E 0
For static granular media we can define the analog of and E 1 one has E⫽E 0 when T→0 and E⫽(E 0 ⫹E 1 )/2
temperature: when T→⬁. Other examples of volume functions include
packings of monodisperse spheres, elongated grains and
⳵V packings of irregularly shaped grains.21–23 Apparently, the
X⫽ . 共49兲
⳵S compactivity approach has its limitations. For example, it is
inapplicable for the analysis of granular flows and gases
This fundamental parameter is called compactivity.6,20 It
where dissipative characteristics of particles 共such as friction
gives the information about the packing of a granular mate-
and restitution coefficients兲 are key quantities that govern the
rial and may be interpreted as being characteristic of the
physics. However, for the case of static arrangements of par-
number of ways it is possible to arrange the grains in the
ticles, the compactivity concept is natural and indispensable.
system into volume ⌬V such that the disorder is ⌬S. Con-
Let us discuss different ways to measure this quantity. In
sequently the two limits of X are 0 and ⬁, corresponding to
statistical mechanics, the fluctuation-dissipation theorem re-
the most and least compact stable arrangements. This is
lates the dissipative response of a system to an external per-
clearly a valid parameter for sufficiently dense powders be-
turbation, with the microscopic dynamics of the system in a
cause one can in principle calculate the configurational en-
state of equilibrium. The configurational space for the granu-
tropy of an arrangement of grains and therefore derive the
lar medium is explored by fluctuations induced by external
compactivity from the basic definition. One can expect, de-
perturbation sources, such as vibrations. In a vibrated granu-
spite the strong constraints resulting from the stability con-
lar material, density fluctuations from the steady state repre-
ditions, the number of packings to grow exponentially with
sent the different volume configurations accessible to grains.
the volume of a sample and the configurational entropy de-
In thermal statistical mechanics we can write the specific
fined as a logarithm of this number is extensive.
heat as
Usually, it is more convenient to introduce the canonical
probability distribution:
P⫽e 共 Y ⫺W 兲 /␭X , 共50兲
C V⫽ 冉 冊
dE 0
dT V

具 共 E⫺E 0 兲 2 典
k BT 2
, 共56兲

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Chaos, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1999 Stress in granular materials 557

dia concentrate along certain well-defined paths. A

disproportionally large amount of force is transmitted via
these stress paths within the material. Computer
simulations26–29 also confirm the existence of well-defined
stress-bearing paths. At the macroscopic scale, the most ob-
vious characteristic of a granular packing is its density. As it
has been shown in Sec. III it is natural to introduce the vol-
ume function W and compactivity X⫽ ⳵ V/ ⳵ S. 30,31 The sta-
tistical ensemble now includes the set of topological configu-
rations with different microscopic force patterns. Therefore,
in order to have a complete set of physical variables, one
should combine the volume probability density functional
FIG. 2. ‘‘Zeroth law’’ experiment: X A ⫽X B and X A ⫽X C , hence X C ⫽X B .
共45兲 with the stress probability density functional 共13兲. The
joint probability functional can be written in the form

where E 0 is the equilibrium average of the energy of the

system, k B is Boltzmann’s constant, T is the absolute tem-
P 兵 V 兩 S ␣i j 其 ⫽Ñ␦ 共 V⫺W 兲 兿
␦ 冉 S ␣i j ⫺ 兺␤ f ␣␤ ␣␤
i rj 冊⌰ 共 f␣␤

perature, and 具 ¯ 典 represents the time average. In our theory, •n␣␤ 兲 P 兵 f␣␤ 其 , 共59兲
the analogous quantity to the specific heat 共56兲 is
where Ñ is the normalization. We speculate that this math-
dV ss 具 共 V⫺V ss 兲 2 典
C⫽ ⫽ , 共57兲 ematical object is necessary for the analysis of the stress
dX ␭X 2 distribution in granular aggregates with an arbitrary coordi-
where V ss is the steady-state volume, nation number. However, this is an extremely difficult prob-
lem which involves a mathematical description of force

冕 V1
V2 dV ss
具 共 V⫺V ss 兲 典


␭X 2 ␭X 1
. 共58兲
chains, i.e., the mesoscopic clusters of grains carrying dis-
proportionally large stresses and surrounded by the sea of
spectator particles. An explicit theoretical analysis of this
Equation 共58兲 has been used24 to calculate the compac- problem will be a subject of future work. We offer the fol-
tivity difference for any two volumes by measuring the fluc- lowing argument. The probability functional for the macro-
tuations of the densities in the steady state. Given a suitable scopic stress tensor ␴ i j (r) is
point of reference, Eq. 共58兲 allows the determination of an
absolute value for compactivity. Despite all its merits, this is P 兵 ␴ i j 共 r兲 其 ⫽M̃␦ 共 ⵜ j ␴ i j ⫺ ␳ 共 r,g兲 ␦ 共 P i jk ␴ jk 兲 . 共60兲
an indirect method of measuring X. However, how can one This can be derived by coarse-graining Eq. 共13兲 or 共14兲 over
then measure X directly? We argue that a direct method the ensemble of geometric configurations:
should be based on an analog of the zeroth law of thermo-
dynamics: no net volume will be transferred between the two
granular materials when they are placed in contact with each
P 兵 ␴ i j 共 r兲 其 ⫽ 冕 P 兵 S ␣i j 其 P 兵 R␣␤ 其兵 DR␣␤ 其 . 共61兲
other if they have the same compactivity 共see Fig. 2兲. This It is clear that there exists a relation between the ‘‘microca-
means that we should be able to define a state of equilibrium nonical’’ distribution 共45兲 and P 兵 R␣␤ 其 that encodes, in gen-
such that two systems in equilibrium with a third system are eral, the deposition history and the full information about the
also in equilibrium with each other. In conclusion, though microstructure of the packing. However, we have not found a
mathematically feasible, the applicability of the compactivity pathway to establish an explicit form of this relation. At the
concept in the description of static and quasistatic granular same time we believe that the macroscopic equations of the
materials requires further experimental investigation. stress transmission involve compactivity X. In conclusion,
we have proposed a new formalism for deriving a stress dis-
IV. DISCUSSION tribution in disordered aggregates of rigid grains. We have
In Sec. II we have given the analysis of stress for the made a conjecture regarding the use of the compactivity con-
case of granular arrays with the fixed values of the coordi- cept for the general case of granular packings, namely that of
nation number. However, a realistic granular packing can an arbitrary coordination number.
have a fluctuating coordination number which need not nec-
essarily be 3 in 2D or 4 in 3D. How can one extend the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
formalism of Sec. II to make it capable of dealing with arbi-
trary packings? The simplest 共however sensible兲 idea is to S.F.E. acknowledges an Emeritus Fellowship from Le-
assume that in 3D the major force is transmitted only verhulme Foundation. D.V.G. is most grateful to Shell 共Am-
through four contacts 共we call them active contacts兲. The rest sterdam兲 and to Gonville & Caius College for financial sup-
of the contacts transmit only an infinitesimal stress and can port.
be christened as passive. Considerable experimental evi-
dence for this conjecture does exist. Photoelastic visualiza- 1
Granular Matter: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by A. Mehta
tion experiments4,25 show that stresses in static granular me- 共Springer, New York, 1993兲.

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