Numerical process simulation
To investigate the physics and controlling parameters of geo-processes, Section 3.1 applies continuum based numerical methods (Finite Element Modelling) as well as non-continuum numerical methods (Distinct Element Modelling).
Finite Element Modelling
Finite Element Modelling is used to find approximate solutions for complex geodynamic processes and test the sensitivity of these processes to variations of boundary conditions and starting conditions. The system to be modelled is represented by a mesh of finite elements and the equations are solved only at the nodes of the mesh. As a continuum method solutions of the differential equations exists at every point of the model,. It is applicable to problems in diverse fields such as stress analysis of solid continua, fluid dynamics and heat flow.
Section 3.1 applies Finite Element Modelling to study processes at convergent continental margins e.g. the mechanics of accretion, the associated fluid flow and thermal regime.
The section applies the latest versions of the commercial software packages of NISA and Abaqus as well as several academic and self-developed codes.
Distinct Element Modelling
Besides continuum based methods like Finite Element Modelling we also use the Distinct Element (DE) approach. DE simulations have become popular in studies on brittle deformation of solids but are also used in the field of granular matter (sands, powders etc.). The properties of the model materials, which are formed by aggregates of e.g. spherical particles, are governed by the interactions at the grain contacts.
In section 3.1 recent applications of the DE Method include the interaction of erosion and tectonics during orogeny, and the evolution of shear zones. The modelling is done in close cooperation with our analogue simulation studies.
Section 3.1 applies the latest versions of the state-of-the art distinct element codes PFC2D and PFC3D.