Shear band formation in granular media as a variational problem
Strain in sheared dense granular material is often localized in a narrow region called the shear band. Recent experiments in a modified Couette cell provided localized shear flow in the bulk away from the confining walls. The nontrivial shape of the shear band was measured as the function of the cell geometry. First, we present a geometric argument for narrow shear bands that connects the function of their surface position with the shape in the bulk. Assuming a simple dissipation mechanism, we show that the principle of minimum dissipation of energy provides a good description of the shape function. Furthermore, we discuss the possibility and behavior of shear bands that are detached from the free surface and are entirely covered in the bulk.
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