Interparticle Friction Leads to Nonmonotonic Flow Curves and Hysteresis in Viscous Suspensions

Hysteresis is a major feature of the solid-liquid transition in granular materials. This property, by allowing metastable states, can potentially yield catastrophic phenomena such as earthquakes or aerial landslides. The origin of hysteresis in granular flows is still debated. However, most mechanisms put forward so far rely on the presence of inertia at the particle level. In this paper, we study the avalanche dynamics of non-Brownian suspensions in slowly rotating drums and reveal large hysteresis of the avalanche angle even in the absence of inertia. By using microsilica particles whose interparticle friction coefficient can be turned off, we show that microscopic friction, conversely to inertia, is key to triggering hysteresis in granular suspensions. To understand this link between friction and hysteresis, we use the rotating drum as a rheometer to extract the suspension rheology close to the flow onset for both frictional and frictionless suspensions. This analysis shows that the flow rule for frictionless particles is monotonous and follows a power law of exponent alpha = 0.37 +/- 0.05, in close agreement with the previous theoretical prediction, alpha = 0.35. By contrast, the flow rule for frictional particles suggests a velocity-weakening behavior, thereby explaining the flow instability and the emergence of hysteresis. These findings show that hysteresis can also occur in particulate media without inertia, questioning the intimate nature of this phenomenon. By highlighting the role of microscopic friction, our results may be of interest in the geophysical context to understand the failure mechanism at the origin of undersea landslides.

Published in:
Physical Review X, 9, 3, 031027
Aug 16 2019

 Record created 2019-08-29, last modified 2019-08-30

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