The objective of this study is to quantitatively evaluate the soil structure behavior when under shear stress to understand the mechanism of shear zone formation using a micro-focus X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanner to visualize the internal samples without causing disturbance. A new image-analysis method was proposed to systematically evaluate the particle length and direction by fitting the particle as an ellipsoid. Subsequently, a direct shear experiment was conducted on soil materials, and shear band was scanned using a micro-focus X-ray CT scanner. After validating the proposed method, the soil structure was evaluated in the shear zone via image analysis on the CT images. Furthermore, the strain inside the specimen was evaluated using digital image correlation. The results showed that a partial change in the particle direction occurred when the volume expansion inside the shear zone exceeded the peak. In addition, the width of the shear zone was ~7.1 times the median grain size of the sand used; however, the region exhibiting a change in the direction of the particles was narrow and confined to the vicinity of the shear plane.
Keywords: X-ray CT; digital image correlation; shear; soil fabric analysis; soil structure; strain localization.