Micromechanical analysis of energy expenditure in snow fracture

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


A microstructure-based evaluation of snow combining experimental and analytical approaches was performed. Shear tests were performed on both homogeneous and layered samples of un-notched snow. Force and displacement during loading were recorded. Immediately after testing, small subsamples of snow were subjected to micro-CT scanning to capture 3D microstructure details. Microstructure was then modeled as a grain-bond network. The grain-bond network was subject to minimum energy fracture path calculations as well as discrete element modeling. The discrete element model showed good agreement with experiments. Taken together, results from models and experiments show a widespread damage accumulation process in snow. A large fracture process zone (FPZ) is observed, even in samples with weak layers. Evidence indicates that even in snow avalanches, there is likely significant energy dissipation within the slab.




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