Visualization of material stiffness in geomechanics analysis

Donald C. Wotring, Youssef M.A. Hashash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents novel visualization techniques to simplify representation of the fourth-order material stiffness tensor as a set of three-dimensional geometric objects. Stiffness visualization aids in understanding the complex stiffness characteristics of highly non-linear constitutive models including modelled material anisotropy and loading path dependent stiffness variation. Stiffness visualization is relevant for understanding the relationship of material stiffness to global behaviour in the analysis of a boundary value problem. The spherical pulse stiffness visualization method, developed in the acoustics field, is extended to visualize stiffness of geomaterials using three three-dimensional objects. This method is limited to relatively simple constitutive models with symmetric stiffness matrices insensitive to loading magnitude and direction. A strain dependent stiffness visualization method is developed that allows the examination of material stiffness for a range of loading directions and is suitable for highly non-linear and path dependent material models. The proposed stiffness visualization can be represented as 3-D, 2-D and 1-D objects. The visualization technique is used to represent material stiffness and its evolution during simulated soil laboratory tests and deep excavation construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Constitutive models
  • Deep excavation
  • Glyph
  • Stiffness
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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