Stress-strain response of hydrate-bearing sands: Numerical study using discrete element method simulations

by Jung, J. W., Santamarina, J. C., Soga, K.
Year: 2012


Jung, J. W., Santamarina, J. C., and Soga, K. (2012). "Stress-strain response of hydrate-bearing sands: Numerical study using discrete element method simulations." JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH -ALL SERIES-, Vol. 117, No. B4, pp. 04202.


​Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid found within marine and subpermafrost sediments. While the presence of hydrates can have a profound effect on sediment properties, the stress-strain behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments is poorly understood due to inherent limitations in laboratory testing. In this study, we use numerical simulations to improve our understanding of the mechanical behavior of hydrate-bearing sands. The hydrate mass is simulated as either small randomly distributed bonded grains or as “ripened hydrate” forming patchy saturation, whereby sediment clusters with 100% pore-filled hydrate saturation are distributed within a hydrate-free sediment. Simulation results reveal that reduced sand porosity and higher hydrate saturation cause an increase in stiffness, strength, and dilative tendency, and the critical state line shifts toward higher void ratio and higher shear strength. In particular, the critical state friction angle increases in sands with patchy saturation, while the apparent cohesion is affected the most when the hydrate mass is distributed in pores. Sediments with patchy hydrate distribution exhibit a slightly lower strength than sediments with randomly distributed hydrate. Finally, hydrate dissociation under drained conditions leads to volume contraction and/or stress relaxation, and pronounced shear strains can develop if the hydrate-bearing sand is subjected to deviatoric loading during dissociation.