Development of an infinite element boundary to model gravity for subsurface civil engineering applications

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Abstract

The accurate modelling of gravity is of crucial importance for a variety of issues including, but not restricted to, the identification of buried objects. Gravity is an unbounded problem which causes challenges when applying numerical models, i.e., it results in computational difficulties when specifying the relevant boundary conditions. In order to address this, previous research has tended to generate artificial boundary conditions, e.g., truncating the simulated domain and adding many unrealistic zero-density layers, which introduces more unknown parameters and unnecessarily excessive computational time. In order to overcome such inaccuracies, this paper proposes an innovative development of the finite element modelling technique which represents a step change in the field of gravity forward modelling. A comprehensive formulation of an infinite element to reproduce the far-field boundary effect using only one layer of infinite elements is presented. The developed model considerably reduces the computational time while obtaining high degrees of accuracy. The model is validated against the exact solution of the problem and its results show an excellent performance. The proposed method can significantly improve the post-processing and interpretation stages of data analysis relevant to micro-gravity sensors. The new method is applied to subsurface civil engineering although its applicability is manifold.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Early online date15 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • 3D finite element methods, civil engineering, forward modelling, gravity data, infinite elements