A comprehensive study on the smooth joint model in DEM simulation of jointed rock masses

Significance Statement

The concept of smooth joint model (SJM) provides a simple and effective way of modeling the interface behavior of a planar rock joint within the discrete element method (DEM) framework. The incomplete understanding of the roles of all micro-parameters of smooth joint model has hampered the application of this technique to the investigation of fracture mechanics of joint rock masses. This paper fills this gap by offering a comprehensive picture of the capabilities and limitations of the current smooth joint model . The significance of the current work lies in the potentials of enhanced model capability in modeling a range of complex rock joint behavior such as fracture propagation, coalescence and networking. In a more general sense, the results of this paper will also be useful for the research on the damage mechanics of geomaterials as discontinuous media on an array of fine scales, such as single sand particle breakage, etc. 

About the author

Dr. Wang has extensive research experiences in the field of micromechanics of geomaterials using discrete element method (DEM). His main works over the past ten years including the DEM modeling and analysis of fundamental soil behaviors of crushable granular soils and their applications in geotechnical engineering problems such as pile foundation and retaining structures, etc. More recently his interests have turned towards the X-ray CT characterization of microstructures and properties of geomaterials, and multiscale modeling and simulation of material behavior. Dr. Wang’s work has been awarded the prestigious international prize including 2011 Geotechnical Research Medal (UK Institution of Civil Engineers) and 2010 Higher Education Institutions Outstanding Research Award – Natural Science Award (the Ministry of Education of China). So far he has published 30 SCI papers and over 40 international conference papers. His research has attracted over 3 million HKD of external grants including the Research Grant Council (RGC) of Hong Kong SAR and National Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Journal Reference

Granular Matter (2015) 17:775–791.

Dan Huang1, Jianfeng Wang2, Su Liu2

Show Affiliations
  1. Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
  2. Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong


This paper reports the results from a comprehensive numerical study on the effects of micro-parameters of the smooth joint model (SJM) on the macro-properties and the associated failure modes of synthetic rock masses (SRM) under the uniaxial compression condition using the three dimensional discrete element method. Important mechanical and geometrical micro-parameters of smooth joint model that show significant effects on the macro-properties and the failure modes of SRM are identified. Strong coupling effects are found to exist between various important micro-parameters so that the eventual sample failure is a result of the complicated interaction among these micro-parameters. A limitation of the current stress-dilatancy relation accounting for the joint roughness effect is also identified. The numerical results presented in this paper are valuable for the evaluation of the current model capability in simulating and predicting the shear failure behavior of rock masses, and the further improvement of the model for its full application to the study of the behavior of real rock masses at the laboratory or field scales.

Go To Granular Matter


smooth joint model in DEM simulation jointed rock masses. Advances In Engineering


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