Researchers catch a wave to determine how forces control granular material properties

Stress wave propagation through granular material is important for detecting the magnitude of earthquakes, locating oil and gas reservoirs, designing acoustic insulation and designing materials for compacting powders. A team of researchers including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Eric Herbold used X-ray measurements and analyses to show that velocity scaling and dispersion in wave transmission is based on grainy particle arrangements and chains of force between them, while reduction of wave intensity is caused mainly from grainy particle arrangements alone.