Grenoble Geomechanics Newsletter No. 37

What a year so far! Publications, prizes, workshops, conferences, visits, new staff, master’s students – landslides(?) – the Grenoble GéoMechanique group is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Stay tuned to the end for bonus news and photos!


From a recent publication “Unearthing real time 3D ant tunneling mechanics”, photo credit: CalTech

ALERT-Geomaterials is (a)live!

Everyone at the ALERT Geomaterials Workshop and Doctoral School was thrilled to be back on-site, and full of fromage-fondu, in Aussois! What a contrast to last year, when the workshop was canceled and the doctoral school was only held by Zoom.

Not only was ALERT Geomaterials held in person this year, but almost 20 of the attendees were from Grenoble – and many of them had posters/presentations. Our very own Angela Casarella made a beautiful presentation covering her work towards a Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics model for clays.

For those interested, the full program can be found here Workshop&school_Final_2021

Crème de la crème, Cyrille-B takes the prize

Meanwhile, in the face of fierce competition, Cyrille-B Couture lifted the Ioannis Vardoulakis PhD Thesis Award!! Cyrille defended his thesis, entitled “Mechanical characterization of porous sandstones in true triaxial conditions: diffuse and localized deformation, effect of anisotropy”,  almost one year ago. It was funded by the IMEP2 doctoral school of the Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA). We should note that Cyrille’s distinctive work has garnered international recognition and the Grenoble GéoMechanique group is humbled and proud to have participated in this success. Interested readers can find Cyrille’s PhD manuscript here:


What is the Ioannis Vardoulakis PhD Thesis Award? This annual PhD prize was founded by the ALERT Geomaterials association with the aim of promoting the dissemination of scientific research carried out by PhD students in the field of soil, rock, and concrete mechanics.

ALERT Board of Directors elections

A new ALERT Board of Directors was elected (for the next 3 years). The 15 member board voted our very own Cino in as President, which makes this the start of his second presidential term. He promptly appointed the “bureau”, which includes three people in addition to the president: director, deputy director for administration, and deputy director for finances. They are, respectively, Fréderic Collin (University of Liège, confirmed), Claudia Vitone (Politecnico di Bari, confirmed), and Luc Sibille (new)). This means 50% of the bureau is representing our GéoMechanique group :-)

A new batch of students in our Master program (Geomechanics, Civil Engineering and Risks)

A fresh year, a fresh batch of students. The Master’s program boasts 28 new students coming from 19 different countries (which is amazing, given the situation with the pandemic). So far, zero online classes, everything is happening on-site for the foreseeable future :-).

Granular Materials, indoors and out, in the Montpellier workshop

A few GeoMechanique representatives joined a workshop on granular materials in Montpellier. In particular, Vincent Richefeu, Gaël Combe, Ilija Vego, Gustavo Pinzon, and Cino Viggiani all paid close attention to the special guest, Juan Carlos Santamarina of KAUST. Our team members ended up having fun outdoors as well, since the workshop was followed by a geological excursion in Larzac guided by Alfredo Taboada (who also organized this event). We hope that a similar event can be organised in Grenoble soon!


 A new face in the hallways

We have a new associate professor, named Quentin Rousseau, coming from Ecole Centrale de Nantes. He is with Grenoble-INP (ENSE3) and has joined our Geomechanics group in Laboratoire 3SR to continue his compelling work which focuses on the modelling of the poromechanical behaviour of soils subject to internal erosion by suffusion. He will work on multiscale mechanical modeling in geomaterials. Please give him a warm welcome next time you see him in the hallway!

Some rolling friction at Particles 2021

Bilal Al Tfaily presented his work entitled “Improving the prediction ability of simplified discrete element models on complex loading paths” at  Particles 2021 conference in Hamburg Germany. In particular, he shows a comparison between the use of rolling friction and clumps in terms of prediction ability and computation time.


A look at some recent publications

We are proud to announce that an updated version of the article “Micromechanical constitutive models of geomaterials” by Luc Sibille and Félix Darve for the French encyclopaedia, “Techniques de l’ingénieur” was released last September:

Amato G. Andò E., Lyu C., Viggiani G., Eiksund G.R. (2021) – A glimpse into rapid freezing processes in clay with x-ray tomography. Acta Geotechnica

Milatz M., Hüsener N., Andò E., Viggiani G., Grabe J. (2021) – Quantitative 3D imaging of partially saturated granular materials under uniaxial compression. Acta Geotechnica

(*)Buarque de Macedo R., Andò E., Joy S., Viggiani G., Pal R.K., Andrade J. (2021) – Unearthing real time 3D ant tunneling mechanics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Vol. 118 No. 36 e2102267118

Tudisco E. Vitone C., Mondello C., Viggiani G., Athanasopoulos S., Hall S.A., Cotecchia F. (2021) – Local and global behaviour of fissured clays: effect of fissures orientation and confining pressure. Acta Geotechnica

Patino-Ramirez F., Anselmucci F., Andò E., Viggiani G., Caicedo B., Arson C. (2021) – Deformation and failure mechanisms of granular soil around pressurised shallow cavities. Géotechnique,

Wang R., Pinzón G., Andò E., Viggiani G. (2021) – Modelling Combined Fabric Evolution in an anisometric granular material driven by particle-scale x-ray measurements. Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, accepted August 2021

A paper which is not about DEM has Bruno Chareyre as a co-author. Yet, as it turns out, it is still about granular media: Montellà, E., Chauchat, J., Chareyre, B., Bonamy, C., & Hsu, T. (2021). A two-fluid model for immersed granular avalanches with dilatancy effectsJournal of Fluid Mechanics, 925, A13.

(*) This paper received a strong amount of external attention for its unique approach to ant tunnel imaging — see for example  and

Bonus pics:

A subset of the GéoMechanique group became irrationally excited over the discovery of a fresh landslide: landslide

Last, but certainly not least, the true heroes of the Aussois cafeteria (some new and old 3SR PhD students)


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