Simulation of growth normal fault sandbox tests using the 2D discrete element method

Sheng Shin Chu, Ming Lang Lin, Wen Chao Huang, Wei Tung Nien, Huan Chi Liu, Pei Chen Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A fault slip can cause the deformation of shallow soil layers and destroy infrastructures. The Shanchiao Fault on the west side of the Taipei Basin is one such fault. The activities of the Shanchiao Fault have caused the quaternary sediment beneath the Taipei Basin to become deformed, damaging structures, traffic construction, and utility lines in the area. Data on geological drilling and dating have been used to determine that a growth fault exists in the Shanchiao Fault. In an experiment, a sandbox model was built using noncohesive sandy soil to simulate the existence of a growth fault in the Shanchiao Fault and forecast the effect of the growth fault on shear-band development and ground differential deformation. The experimental results indicated that when a normal fault contains a growth fault at the offset of the base rock, the shear band develops upward beside the weak side of the shear band of the original-topped soil layer, and surfaces considerably faster than that of the single-topped layer. The offset ratio required is approximately one-third that of the single-cover soil layer. In this study, a numerical simulation of the sandbox experiment was conducted using a discrete element method program, PFC2D, to simulate the upper-covering sand layer shear-band development pace and the scope of a growth normal fault slip. The simulation results indicated an outcome similar to that of the sandbox experiment, which can be applied to the design of construction projects near fault zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalComputers and Geosciences
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Discrete element method
  • Growth normal fault
  • Shanchiao Fault
  • Taipei Basin


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