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Original Research Paper

A numerical test method of California bearing

ratio on graded crushed rocks using particle
flow modeling

Yingjun Jiang a,b, Louis Ngai Yuen Wong b,*, Jiaolong Ren a,c
Key Laboratory for Special Area Highway Engineering of Ministry of Education, Chang'an University, Xi'an 710064,
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore
School of Transportation, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China

article info abstract

Article history: In order to better understand the mechanical properties of graded crushed rocks (GCRs)
Available online 21 February 2015 and to optimize the relevant design, a numerical test method based on the particle flow
modeling technique PFC2D is developed for the California bearing ratio (CBR) test on GCRs.
The effects of different testing conditions and micro-mechanical parameters used in the
Keywords: model on the CBR numerical results have been systematically studied. The reliability of the
Graded crushed rocks numerical technique is verified. The numerical results suggest that the influences of the
Particle flow modeling loading rate and Poisson's ratio on the CBR numerical test results are not significant. As
California bearing ratio such, a loading rate of 1.0e3.0 mm/min, a piston diameter of 5 cm, a specimen height of
Numerical test 15 cm and a specimen diameter of 15 cm are adopted for the CBR numerical test. The
Micro-mechanical parameters numerical results reveal that the CBR values increase with the friction coefficient at the
Mesoscopic mechanism contact and shear modulus of the rocks, while the influence of Poisson's ratio on the CBR
values is insignificant. The close agreement between the CBR numerical results and
experimental results suggests that the numerical simulation of the CBR values is promising
to help assess the mechanical properties of GCRs and to optimize the grading design. Be-
sides, the numerical study can provide useful insights on the mesoscopic mechanism.
2015 Periodical Offices of Chang'an University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on
behalf of Owner. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://

cracking, rutting, and other pavement distresses. Therefore,

1. Introduction a rigorous assessment method for GCRs is necessary in road
engineering applications.
Graded crushed rocks (GCRs) are used extensively as tradi- The California bearing ratio (CBR) test is frequently used
tional construction materials for roads (Hadi and for assessing granular materials in base, subbase and subgrade
Bodhinayake, 2003). The poor performance of GCRs base layers of road pavements (Al-Amoudi et al., 2002; ASTM
layers in flexible pavements may be manifested by fatigue D 1883e14, 1999; Attoh-Okine, 2004; Duncan-Williams and

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 65 67905290.

E-mail addresses: (Y. Jiang), (L.N.Y. Wong).
Peer review under responsibility of Periodical Offices of Chang'an University.
2095-7564/ 2015 Periodical Offices of Chang'an University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Owner. This is an open
access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
108 j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5

Attoh-Okine, 2008; Taskiran, 2010). The CBR test was originally degree of correlation coefficient. A reliable estimation of CBR is
developed by the California Department of Transportation and thus difficult to obtain by using the conventional statistical
was subsequently incorporated by the Army Corps of Engineers methods. Besides, in most studies, CBR was expressed in
for the design of flexible pavements (Al-Amoudi et al., 2002; terms of only one or two soil properties groups, with reference
Attoh-Okine, 2004; Duncan-Williams and Attoh-Okine, 2008; to soil parameters including plasticity, gradation and
Taskiran, 2010). It has become so globally popular that it is compaction properties. For example, PL belongs to plasticity
incorporated in many international standards (ASTM D group, while optimum moisture content is in compaction
1883e14, 1999). However, engineers always encounter group. The reason for this undesirable correlation is due to
difficulties in obtaining representative CBR values for design inadequate representation of soil properties groups, existence
(Al-Amoudi et al., 2002; Attoh-Okine, 2004; Duncan-Williams of complex relationships among the parameters and
and Attoh-Okine, 2008; Taskiran, 2010). Due to limited budget unpowerful methods of calculations (Taskiran, 2010).
and occasional poor project planning, GCRs investigation data Most of the above-mentioned models were developed based
are insufficiently obtained in many cases (Al-Amoudi et al., on statistical correlations, often inadequately supported by
2002). On the other hand, laboratory CBR test is often laborious mechanics-based analysis. Besides, more attention has been
and time consuming. The test results are also significantly placed on soil than on GCRs. Research on the effects of
influenced by the sample disturbance and laboratory testing composition and structure of GCRs on the CBR can help raise the
conditions (Al-Amoudi et al., 2002; Link et al., 1999; Taskiran, GCRs performance and improve the material design. The CBR of
2010; Yildirim and Gunaydin, 2011). Therefore, the GCRs depends on the quality and size of aggregate, aggregate
development of reliable prediction models might be useful to gradation and MDD, etc. However, it is very challenging to
supplement or replace some of the CBR tests, and to validate perform an in-depth and comprehensive investigation of the
the experimentally determined CBR values. properties of GCRs simply by directly observing and recording
Some attempts of such prediction model development were the movement of the GCRs in response to loading in the labo-
found in the literature. The effects of soil types and character- ratory CBR study. Particle flow modeling is one of the most
istics on CBR values have been studied (Agarwal and Ghanekar, rapidly developing numerical methods, which overcomes the
1970; Black, 1962; Degraft-Johnson et al., 1969; Stephens, 1990; limitation associated with the macroscopic continuum
Taskiran, 2010). Prediction of CBR of fine grained soils by artifi- assumption of relevant conventional numerical techniques.
cial intelligence methods was studied by Taskiran (2010). A Based on the microscopic mechanical properties of the indi-
correlation between CBR and plasticity index (PI) for cohesive vidual particles, the particle flow modeling has been success-
soils was developed by Black (1962). A correlation for CBR fully used for modeling the macroscopic material deformation
using the concept of suitable index which varied with behavior in rock, soil and other civil engineering materials
plasticity and grading characteristic was suggested by Degraft- (Bardet and Proubet, 1991, 1992; Lorig et al., 1995; Shen and Yu,
Johnson et al. (1969). A correlation equation between CBR and 2011; Vu-Quoc and Zhang, 1999; Yoon, 2007; Zeghal, 2004; Zhang
either liquid limit (LL), plastic limit (PL) or PI was developed by and Wong, 2012; Zhou et al., 2009). With the rapid advance of
Agarwal and Ghanekar (1970). However, they were not able to computational efficiency, particle flow code (PFC) offers a
establish any significant correlation among these parameters. powerful tool for investigating the key attributes of GCRs, which
Instead, they obtained an improved correlation when possess a discrete particle nature and non-linear mechanical
optimum moisture content and LL were included. It was found property (Itasca Consulting Group, 2004). To our best
that the grading constant is the best parameter to describe the knowledge, although PFC has been used extensively in civil
influence of grain size distribution on CBR. In the same study, engineering analysis, the use of this technique for modeling
CBR was found to be most dependent on maximum dry the CBR test is limited.
density (MDD) and least dependent on optimum moisture In the present study, a CBR numerical test method (NTM) of
content. Using grading constant, MDD and optimum moisture GCRs using the PFC2D is proposed. The effects of testing con-
content as independent variables, several equations for CBR ditions including loading rate, piston diameter and specimen
were presented. Stephens (1990) evaluated the performance of size on the stability of CBR numerical results are analyzed.
existing models for some selected natural soils and these The optimized testing conditions for the CBR NTM are sub-
models were found to be generally unsatisfactory. Another sequently recommended. Finally, the CBR NTM is validated by
method for the estimation of CBR was presented by British laboratory tests and an analysis of the mesoscopic mecha-
Highways Agency (1994), which made use of PI for British soils nism of CBR test is performed. The investigation of the present
compacted at natural moisture content where the correlations study is based on one typical limestone which is commonly
were given in the format of a table. NCHRP (2011) suggested found and used in Ankang District in China.
some correlations for describing the relationship between soil
index properties and CBR. A best-fit equation was proposed by
NCHRP for clean, coarse grained soil. This equation was 2. CBR NTM on GCRs
limited to D60 values varying between 0.01 and 30 mm. For
D60 smaller than 0.01 mm, the recommended value of CBR 2.1. Research approach
was 5% whereas CBR value of 95% was recommended for D60
greater than 30 mm. A review of the above literature reveals The research approach of investigating the CBR values of GCRs
that satisfactory correlations could not always be obtained, is based on both laboratory physical study and numerical
even for specific soils encountered locally. Many of the study (Fig. 1). Eventually, based on a reliability analysis, a CBR
proposed correlation equations suffered from a relatively low numerical test of GCRs is developed.
j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5 109

Fig. 1 e Scheme of CBR NTM on GCRs.

2.2. Numerical model then filled up by circular particles of various sizes. The grading
of the particles is controlled by monitoring the area of the
2.2.1. Specimen modeling generated particles. Afterwards, wall c is then applied to
To construct the CBR numerical specimen, orthogonal walls a, compact the top of the specimen in order to achieve the
b, d are first defined (Fig. 2). The space bounded by the walls is dimension requirements of the CBR numerical test.

2.2.2. Contact models

Taking into account of the non-linear mechanical properties
of particle materials, this paper adopts the Hertz-Mindlin
contact model (hereafter denoted as Hertz model) and slip
model to describe the constitutive relation of the contact
among the GCRs. The Hertz model is defined by the shear
modulus, Poisson's ratio and density of the two contacting
balls. In Hertz model, the forces and relative displacements
are nonlinearly related by the non-constant contact stiffness.
The slip model is defined by the friction coefficient at the
contact, which is taken to be the minimum friction coefficient
of the two contacting entities. Details of the models can be
referred to the user manual of the code (Vu-Quoc and Zhang,

2.2.3. Numerical simulation of penetration test

After the specimen is built, the top wall c is removed (Fig. 3).
Walls r1 and r2 are created to simulate the surcharge weight
which is placed on the test specimen surface, while walls r3,
Fig. 2 e Specimen for CBR numerical test. r4 and r5 are created to simulate the penetration piston. The
110 j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5

above dimensions are adopted according to the test methods

of soils for highway engineering (TMSHE).
During the numerical simulation, the penetration piston is
forced into the test specimen at a constant loading rate. The
displacement and contact force of wall r3 are simultaneously
monitored, and a load-penetration curve is obtained (Fig. 4).
The load on piston at penetration of 2.5 mm can be read
from the load-penetration curve. The CBR value is subse-
quently obtained by dividing the load on piston by 7.0 MPa and
multiplying by 100.

2.3. Determination of testing conditions Fig. 4 e A load-penetration curve obtained by CBR NTM.

2.3.1. Specimen dimensions

respective CBR values. The results are plotted in Fig. 6. As
Since the specimens for CBR tests are laterally confined, the
shown, the CBR value decreases with the increase of the
dimensions of the numerical specimens and hence confine-
specimen height. When the specimen height is larger than
ment effect can be reasonably expected to influence the
15 cm, the gradient of the curve becomes gentler. For each
representativeness of the CBR test results. The specimen di-
3 cm incremental increase of specimen height, the
mensions are thus also investigated in the present numerical
percentage decrease of the CBR value is only 0.4% of its
original value.
CBR numerical tests are conducted on specimens with
To summarize, when the specimen height and specimen
different diameters, including 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 cm, while
diameter are respectively larger than 15 cm, the specimen
the specimen height is fixed at 15 cm. The results are plotted
dimensions have no significant influences on the CBR nu-
in Fig. 5. As shown, the CBR value decreases as the specimen
merical results. The specimen height of 15 cm and specimen
diameter increases. When the specimen diameter is larger
diameter of 15 cm are thus chosen in the subsequent study.
than 15 cm, the gradient of the curve becomes gentler. For
each 3 cm incremental increase of specimen diameter, the
2.3.2. Piston diameter
percentage decrease of the CBR value is only 0.7% of its
The influences of different piston diameters are studied by
original value. As such, the specimen diameter is chosen to
obtaining the CBR curves with different piston diameter-
be 15 cm for the subsequent investigation of the influence of
specimen diameter ratios of 1:1.5, 1:2, 1:2.5, 1:3, 1:3.5, 1:4, 1:4.5
specimen height.
and 1:5, while the specimen dimension is fixed at 15 cm. The
The standard specimen height in CBR test is 15 cm. Nu-
results are plotted in Fig. 7. As shown, the CBR value decreases
merical analyses are conducted on a number of specimen
with the increase of the piston diameter. The maximum CBR
heights, including 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 cm, to obtain the
value is 1.65 times of the minimum CBR value in the tested
range. It illustrates that piston diameter has a significant
effect on the numerical CBR results. Taking the TMSHE into
consideration, a piston diameter of 5 cm is adopted in the
subsequent CBR numerical study.

2.3.3. Loading rate

The influences of different loading rates are studied by
obtaining the load on piston curves at loading rates of 1.0, 2.5,
5.0, 10.0 and 15.0 mm/min. The results are plotted in Fig. 8. As
shown, the load on piston curves are very close to each other.
When the loading rate increases from 1.0 to 5.0 mm/min, the

Fig. 3 e Simulation of loading conditions in CBR numerical

test. Fig. 5 e Effect of specimen diameter on CBR.
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Fig. 6 e Effect of specimen height on CBR.

Fig. 8 e Load-penetration curves corresponding to different
loading rates obtained by CBR NTM.
load on piston value only increases by 0.06 times. The loading
rate thus has an insignificant effect on the CBR numerical
30%. When m increases from 0.7 to 0.9, the CBR value only
results. Adopting a high loading rate can increase the
has a percentage increase of 3%. An increase of m represents
efficiency of the modeling, while it will require more
an increase of surface roughness of individual crushed
computing resources. To optimize the computation with
rocks, which prohibits the relative movement among the
regard to the TMSHE, the suggested loading rate in the
GCRs. The particle system will then tend to form a more
present CBR numerical test is 1.0e3.0 mm/min.
stable skeleton structure, hence offering a higher resistance
to external and larger CBR values. It also indirectly shows
that GCRs containing a high degree of angularity and rough
3. Micro-mechanical parameters surface texture can help enhance the engineering
performance of the GCRs. However, when m reaches a
3.1. Influences of micro-mechanical parameters certain level, the stone skeleton has already attained a high
level of stability. Further increasing the value of m will not
The micro-mechanical parameters obtained from the cali- effectively increase the CBR value. In our study, similar CBR
bration should reflect the physical properties (size, shape, curves are obtained for m higher than 0.7. In the meanwhile,
surface properties, mechanical properties, etc.) of the crushed the typical m value of rocks is not less than 0.3. In our
rocks, as well as the crushing process of the rocks. This sec- present calibration of numerical study, our preliminary
tion analyzes the influences of different micro-mechanical choice of m is 0.5. The final calibrated value is confined
parameters of the GCRs on the CBR values. between 0.3 and 0.7.

3.1.1. Friction coefficient at the contact 3.1.2. Shear modulus

Numerical analyses are conducted to obtain the CBR values Numerical analyses are conducted to obtain the CBR values
for different values of friction coefficient m at the contact for different values of shear modulus, including 6, 7, 8, 9 and
including 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 and 0.9, while the shear modulus 10 GPa, while the friction coefficient at the contactand Pois-
Gand Poisson's ratio v are fixed at 8 GPa and 0.2 respectively. son's ratio are fixed at 0.35 and 0.2 respectively. The results are
The results are plotted in Figs. 9 and 10. plotted in Figs. 11 and 12.
As shown in Fig. 9, the gradient of the load on piston As shown in Fig. 12, CBR value increases linearly with shear
decreases when m gradually increases. For m is higher than modulus. In the present study, every 1 GPa increment of shear
0.7, the load-penetration curves are very close to each other. modulus leads to an approximate 19% increase of the CBR
As shown in Fig. 10, when m is lower than 0.7, the CBR value value. Therefore, the shear modulus in future numerical
increases almost linearly with m For each 0.2 increment of m,
the CBR value has a percentage increase of approximately

Fig. 9 e Load-penetration curves corresponding to different

Fig. 7 e Effect of piston diameter on CBR. friction coefficients at the contact.
112 j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5

Fig. 10 e Effect of friction coefficient at the contact on CBR. Fig. 12 e Effect of shear modulus on CBR.

simulation can be quickly determined by the linear modulus and Poisson's ratio. These parameters are dictated by
relationship of CBR and shear modulus established above. the properties of GCRs. However, the circular particles adop-
ted in the PFC2D cannot directly reflect the angular and platy
3.1.3. Poisson's ratio nature of the crushed rocks and the voids of GCRs. In order to
For the GCRs used in road base, the Poisson's ratio typically reveal the influences of these factors on the numerical model,
ranges between 0.15 and 0.35. Numerical analyses are con- calibration is performed based on those micro-mechanical
ducted to obtain the CBR values for different values of Pois- parameters according to the following procedures. Note that
son's ratio, including 0.15, 0.20, 0.25, 0.30 and 0.35, while the the specimen height and diameter are both fixed at 15 cm,
friction coefficient at the contact and shear modulus are fixed while the piston diameter is fixed at 5 cm.
at 0.35 and 8 GPa respectively. The results are plotted in Figs.
13 and 14. (a) Obtain CBR values for three to five different sets of GCRs
A comparison of Figs. 9, 11 and 13, and Figs. 10, 12 and 14 is in the laboratory.
performed to study the degree of influence of different pa- (b) Based on the properties of GCRs, develop a preliminary
rameters on the CBR values. The general trend of influence of set of micro-mechanical parameters. Perform numeri-
friction coefficient on the CBR results is similar to that of shear cal analysis by PFC2D to determine the CBR values of the
modulus and Poisson's ratio. The CBR value increases by 34% specific set of GCRs tested in step (a).
when the Poisson's ratio increases 133% from 0.15 to 0.35. (c) Compare the CBR values obtained from laboratory study
Such a CBR percentage increase is comparable to that caused in step (a) and numerical study in step (b). If the
only by 33% increase of shear modulus from 6 GPa to 8 GPa.
The above illustrates that Poisson's ratio has a less degree of
influence on CBR numerical analyses, while the friction co-
efficient has the least influence relatively. To simplify the
parameter calibration procedures, only one single Poisson's
ratio based on the typical rock property is chosen and used
throughout the entire numerical study. Poisson's ratio will not
take part in the parameter calibration processes.

3.2. Calibration of micro-mechanical parameters

According to the Hertz model and the slip model, the key
parameters in characterizing the constitutive relationship of
the contact are friction coefficient at the contact, shear Fig. 13 e Load-penetration curves corresponding to
different Poisson's ratios.

Fig. 11 e Load-penetration curves corresponding to

different shear moduli. Fig. 14 e Effect of Poisson's ratio on CBR.
j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5 113

Table 1 e Apparent density of aggregates. 5. CBR mesoscopic mechanism of GCRs

Aggregate size (mm) 19.0e31.5 9.50e19.0 4.75e9.50 <4.75
Apparent density (kg/m3) 2712 2709 2692 2681 The numerical analysis of CBR not only provides insights on
the CBR behavior of different GCRs macroscopically, but also
reveals the displacement of GCRs and associated micro-me-
difference is less than 10%, that particular set of micro- chanical behavior. These help enhance our understanding of
mechanical parameters will be adopted. Otherwise, the the mechanical and engineering performance of the GCRs.
parameters will be adjusted for another round of nu-
merical test until the previously mentioned criterion is 5.1. Displacement vector field
Displacement vector field can help vividly reveal the move-
ment of the GCRs in response to external loading. Fig. 15
4. Reliability analysis for CBR NTM shows the displacement vectors in the CBR specimen at
three different depths of piston penetration. Each arrow
4.1. Raw materials and micro-mechanical parameters represents a displacement vector of a particle. The pointing
direction indicates the direction of the particle motion. The
The aggregates used in the present study are limestone, length of the vector represents the magnitude of the
which is commonly found and used in Ankang District in displacement.
China. Refer to Tables 1 and 2 for the density values and As shown, when the piston penetration is 0.80 mm, con-
micro-mechanical parameters of the aggregates respec- spicuous displacement vectors only develop within a finite
tively. The apparent density values are experimentally region below the piston, which is enclosed within line A. In the
determined, while the micro-mechanical parameters are region outside line A, the displacement vectors appear as
obtained based on the approach and results presented in scattered tiny dots. The above illustrates that the shallow
Section 3. piston penetration only induces a small displacement among
the particles. When the piston penetration reaches 1.60 mm,
the magnitude of the displacement vectors, as well as the
4.2. Reliability of the numerical model extent of deformation zone significantly increase (enclosed by
line B). It illustrates that the induced particle displacements
Table 3 compares the CBR values obtained from the increase with the increase of the piston penetration. When
numerical analysis. The laboratory tests were first the piston penetration further increases to 2.50 mm, the
performed on nine groups (A to I) of specimens containing above-mentioned trend continues (indicated by line C). The
different gradings. The results are shown in the column of disturbance zone indicating the occurrence of particle
Lab result (%). The numerical results obtained by the PFC displacement increases to reach the bottom of the specimen.
simulation are shown in the adjacent column. The error During the entire penetration process, as the piston penetra-
between the laboratory results and numerical results is tion increases, the lengthened displacement vectors of the
then computed. As shown, the differences between the two particles point are dominantly downwards. The particles close
values are all less than 7%, returning an average difference to the two side walls mainly appear as discrete dots. These
of 4.5%. phenomena indicate that the particles experience a higher
degree of vertical displacement than lateral displacement.

Table 2 e Micro-mechanical parameters. 5.2. Meso-mechanical properties

Parameter Friction Shear modulus (GPa) Poisson's

Fig. 16 illustrates the evolution of the contact conditions
coefficient ratio
among the particles when the piston penetrates into the
Value 0.35 8.0 0.2
specimen. The black lines of the network represent the

Table 3 e Measured results and simulation results of CBR test.

Grading Percentage passing (%) for sieve size (mm) Lab result Numerical result (%) Error (%)
31.5 19.0 9.50 4.75 2.36 0.60 0.075
A 100 64 52 40 34 25 15 495 525 6.1
B 100 64 52 40 32 21 11 564 580 2.8
C 100 64 52 40 30 17 7 595 627 5.4
D 100 61 48 35 30 22 13 518 552 6.6
E 100 61 48 35 28 18 9 579 595 2.8
F 100 61 48 35 26 15 6 655 676 3.2
G 100 58 44 30 25 18 11 626 642 2.6
H 100 58 44 30 24 15 8 657 688 4.7
I 100 58 44 30 22 13 5 692 736 6.4
114 j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5

Fig. 15 e Deformation of GCRs at different depths of piston penetration. (a) 0.80 mm penetration. (b) 1.60 mm penetration. (c)
2.50 mm penetration.

particleeparticle and particle-wall contact forces. Thicker increase of the specimen dimensions. When the specimen
lines represent a larger magnitude of contact force. height and diameter are both larger than 15 cm, the specimen
As shown, when the piston penetration depth is 0, i.e. the dimensions have insignificant effects on the CBR numerical
piston has not yet acted on the numerical specimen, the values. Based on the present study, a loading rate of
contact force among the particles are generally evenly 1.0e3.0 mm/min, a piston diameter of 5 cm, a specimen height
distributed. When the piston penetration depth reaches of 15 cm and a specimen diameter of 15 cm are recommended
1.75 mm, a remarkable force concentration occurs around the for the CBR numerical test.
piston. When the piston penetration depth reaches 2.50 mm, The micro-mechanical parameters have the following in-
the force concentration around the piston further increases, fluences on the CBR numerical results. The CBR curves
which reaches the bottom of the specimen. During the entire become gentler and the CBR values increase when the friction
loading process, although the contact forces on and close to coefficient at the contact increases. For friction coefficient at
the side walls also increase with the piston penetration depth, the contact greater than 0.7, such a variation trend is less
local force concentration is absent. The above phenomena remarkable. In contrast, the shear modulus has a far more
illustrate that the evolution of the contact force network in the influence on the CBR curves. The CBR value increases linearly
vertical direction is more prominent than that in the lateral with shear modulus. The influence of Poisson's ratio on the
direction. CBR numerical test is not significant. Parameter calibration is
The above numerical results suggest that the CBR NTM can subsequently performed by comparing the CBR value ob-
not only replicate the process of laboratory CBR test, but also tained from laboratory study and numerical study. Using the
provide more insights than those available by the conven- Ankang limestone as an example, the results illustrate that
tional laboratory CBR test. the percentage error between the numerical results and lab
results is less than 7% with an average value of 4.5%.The
reliability of the CBR numerical test is thus verified.
6. Conclusions A detailed analysis of the mesoscopic behavior of the GCRs
in the CBR test reveals the followings. When the piston
A numerical test method based on the particle flow modeling penetration increases, the change of the displacement vector
technique is developed for the CBR test on GCRs. The effects of magnitude and the contact force is more prominent in the
different testing conditions on the CBR numerical results have vertical direction than in the lateral direction. It illustrates
been systematically studied. The loading rate has a negligible that in the CBR test of GCRs, the dominant effect of the piston
effect on the numerical results. The CBR value of GCRs in- on the GCRs is reflected in the vertical direction rather than in
creases with the piston diameter, while it decreases with the the lateral direction. In addition, the disturbance of the piston

Fig. 16 e Visualization of mesoscopic contact force in the numerical specimen. (a) 0 mm penetration. (b) 1.75 mm
penetration. (c)2.50 mm penetration.
j o u r n a l o f t r a f fi c a n d t r a n s p o r t a t i o n e n g i n e e r i n g ( e n g l i s h e d i t i o n ) 2 0 1 5 ; 2 ( 2 ) : 1 0 7 e1 1 5 115

is not restricted to those shallow particles in vicinity of the Duncan-Williams, E., Attoh-Okine, N.O., 2008. Effect of geogrid in
piston. A significant disturbance effect on the deeper particles granular base strengthdan experimental investigation.
is also numerically obtained. When the penetration depth of Construction and Building Materials 22 (11), 2180e2184.
Hadi, M.N.S., Bodhinayake, B.C., 2003. Non-linear finite element
the piston reaches 2.50 mm, its disturbance reaches the par-
analysis of flexible pavements. Advances in Engineering
ticles located in the bottom of the specimen. Software 34 (11/12), 657e662.
Itasca Consulting Group, Inc, 2004. Particle Flow Code in 2
Dimensions (PFC2D) User's Manual. Itasca Consulting Group,
Inc., Minneapolis.
Acknowledgments Link, R.E., Pandian, N.S., Sridharan, A., et al., 1999. California
bearing ratio test simplified. Journal of Testing and
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