A porous media finite element approach for soil instability including the second-order work criterion

Evanthia Kakogiannou, Lorenzo Sanavia, François Nicot, Felix Darve, Bernhard A. Schrefler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper deals with the hydromechanical modelling of the initiation of failure in soils with particular reference to landslides. To this end, localized and diffused failure modes are simulated with a finite element model for coupled elasto-plastic variably saturated porous geomaterials, in which the material point instability is detected with the second-order work criterion based on Hill’s sufficient condition of stability. Three different expressions of the criterion are presented, in which the second-order work is expressed in terms of generalized effective stress, of total stress and thirdly by taking into account the hydraulic energy contribution for partially saturated materials. The above-mentioned computational framework has been applied to study two initial boundary value problems: shear failure of a plane strain compression test of globally undrained water-saturated dense sand (where cavitation occurs at strain localization) and isochoric grain matter, and the onset of a flowslide from southern Italy due to rainfall (Sarno-Quindici events, May 5–6 1998). It is shown that the second-order work criterion applied at the material point level detects the local material instability and gives a good spatial indication of the extent of the potentially unstable domains in both the localized and diffused failure mechanisms of the cases analyzed, is able to capture the instability induced by cavitation of the liquid water and gives results according to the time evolution of plastic strains and displacement rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-825
Number of pages21
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Cavitation
  • Elasto-plasticity
  • Finite element simulation
  • Landslides
  • Material instability
  • Multiphase porous media
  • Second-order work criterion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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