Avalanches in Slowly Sheared Disordered Materials

Authored by: Karin A. Dahmen , Robert P. Behringer

Handbook of Granular Materials

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781466509962
eBook ISBN: 9781466509979
Adobe ISBN:


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The term “avalanche,” as applied to granular and disordered material, has a rich and varied span. The conventional term brings to mind destructive flows of snow, soil, or mud down the surfaces of mountains and hillsides. Indeed, researchers around the world [1,2] are concerned with what happens in such complex flows. Several aspects of these phenomena are key, including the idea of a buildup of stress (here, shear stress), failure, and a dynamical response that typically involves flow until a new stable state is attained. These features are not only unique to avalanches on hillsides, but occur also in polycrystalline magnetic systems, in earthquake fault zones, and in a variety of more idealized granular and frictional systems. These kinds of phenomena are sometimes referred to as stick-slip and can occur at the microscopic scale of atoms, mesoscopic scale of foams or colloids, and macroscopic scale of granular materials.

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