Particle manifold method (PMM) is a new extension of the numerical manifold method (NMM). PMM uses a mathematical cover system to describe the motion and deformation of a particle-based physical domain. By introducing the concept of particle into NMM, PMM takes the advantages of easy topological and contact operations with particles. In this article, the methodology, formulations and implementation of the method are presented, together with modelling examples for validation. It is found that good solutions for both continuous and discontinuous problems are obtained by the new developed PMM. Due to the underlying coupled continuum-discontinuum property of PMM, it has great potential for modelling of geomechanical problems. Copyright (c) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.