Static and dynamic features of granular material failure due to upward pulling of a buried sphere by a slowly increasing force†
A spherical intruder embedded in a confined granular column is extracted by pulling it upward by an attached string. As the tension of the string gradually increases, a failure event occurs at a certain pulling force, leading to rapid upward acceleration of the intruder. The threshold force and the dynamics of the failure event are experimentally investigated for different filling heights and column diameters, using Ottawa sand and glass beads. For the Ottawa sand, we find that the failure force can be fit by a model describing the weight of the granular material in a cone with the vertex at the bottom of the intruder and a vertex angle of 72°. The agreement between the model and experiments is good for heights less than the column (tube) diameter, but measured values deviate from the model for larger heights. We also report on experiments with glass beads that reveal unexpected effects for relatively small ratios of tube diameters to grain size. The dynamics of the intruder during the failure event is studied using high-speed video analysis. The granular drag force monotonically decays during the pullout for sufficiently large tube diameters. In narrow columns, a monotonic decay of drag force after failure is observed for low heights, whereas a secondary peak can be seen in sufficiently deep and narrow columns, indicating the existence of different mechanisms of failure. The normalized drag force declines with intruder displacement closely for all tube diameters within small displacements.