I'm building a scale model for a proposed construction project.
Is it possible to simulate foundations operating in soil in a scale model? What do people typically use?
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Modeling soil behavior in a scaled-down lab system requires that the force of gravity be scaled up to maintain dynamic similitude. This requires the scaled system to be spun in a centrifuge at a speed which is mathematically derived from the linear scale-down factor.
As pointed out by ShadowMan, there is an extensive literature on scaled modeling of soil behavior in response to, for example, earthquake loading.