Coordination numbers in natural beach sand

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Vashan Wright , Amy Ferrick, Michael Manga


Coordination number controls elastic moduli, seismic velocity, and force transmission in sands and is thus a critical factor controlling the resistance of sands to deformation. Previous studies quantified relationships between coordination number, porosity, grain size, sphericity, and effective stress in pluviated or modeled sands. Here, we determine if these relationships hold in naturally-deposited beach sands. We collect samples while preserving their microstructures and use x-ray computed microtomography images to characterize grain properties. Similar to pluviated and modeled sand studies, we find that average coordination numbers and porosities for freshly deposited natural sands are 8.1 ± 2.8 and 0.37 ± 0.01, respectively. The range and standard deviation in coordination numbers of the natural beach sands are, however, significantly higher than observed in pluviated and modeled sand studies. At the same effective stress and porosities, coordination number is linearly proportional to grain surface area except for the smallest and largest grains. Coordination number depends non-linearly on sphericity. We attribute the higher ranges and standard deviations of coordination numbers in the natural sands to its broader grain size distribution, and we propose that the largest grains limit grain rearrangement, which influences spatial distributions of coordination numbers in natural sands.



Geophysics and Seismology, Geotechnical Engineering, Sedimentology


Sands, Granular Media, Coordination Number


Published: 2020-12-02 13:06

Last Updated: 2021-03-08 07:34

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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