Time-scale analysis in unsaturated porous media under external wave loads

Heng Xiao, Yin Lu Young, Jean H. Prévost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Extreme waves caused by tsunamis and storm surges can lead to soil failures in the near-shore region, which may have severe impact on coastal environments and communities. Multiphase flows in deformable porous media involve several coupled processes and multiple time scales, which are challenging for numerical simulations. The objective of this study is to investigate the roles of the various processes and their interactions in multiphase flows in unsaturated soils under external wave loading, via theoretical time-scale analysis and numerical simulations. A coupled geomechanics-multiphase flow model based on conservation laws is used. Theoretical analysis based on coupled and decoupled models demonstrates that transient and steady-state responses are governed by pore pressure diffusion and saturation front propagation, respectively, and that the two processes are essentially decoupled. Numerical simulations suggest that the compressibility of the pore fluids and the deformation of the soil skeleton are important when the transient responses of the media are of concern, while the steady-state responses are not sensitive to these factors. The responses obtained from the fully coupled numerical simulations are explained by a simplified time-scale analysis based on coupled and decoupled models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1935-1959
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 25 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Multiphase flow
  • Porous media
  • Time-scale analysis
  • Wave-soil interaction


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