Advanced numerical modelling for geotechnical applications often involves the use of complex constitutive relationships for the soil. However, it is sometimes the case in specific structures, such as deep excavations or soil retaining walls, that the presence of shear bands, fissures, fractures, or other types of displacement discontinuities within the soil mass is the mainfactor controlling the global stress-strain response of the soil mass, rather than the specific constitutive law of the soil itself. When this happens, it is a much better option to model directly the presence of the discontinuity within the soil mass. Such studies, in which the behaviour of a discontinuity within rock masses is directly modelled, have been used in the past within research connected to the hydraulic fracturing of rocks, with very satisfactory results.
The actual research activity of this group involves reformulating and adapting this existing model, so that it can be inserted in the numerical analysis via the finite element method of geotechnical problems.