The interface shear behavior of granular materials is central to many engineering applications, including the performance of structures like deep foundations, landfills, and retaining walls. Consequently, it is paramount to understand the behavior of construction material-soil interfaces involved in these applications. Furthermore, it has been shown that the study of interface behavior, in the laboratory and in-situ, can provide robust information about the soil's properties and engineering performance. This paper presented laboratory evaluations of micro and meso-scale shear deformation of medium-sized sands aimed at developing an improved fundamental understanding of granular-continuum stress-strain behavior. A comparison of interface testing results from two different shear directions—axial and torsional—demonstrated that the evolution and progression of shear zone formation was affected differently by changes in the interface surface roughness and particle angularity. In particular, it was observed that torsional shear is a more dilative process that induces a larger degree of soil shearing and is greatly affected by particle angularity. Studies of shear-induced volume changes also revealed that the influence zone for torsional shearing is larger than that for axial shearing, with soil dilation occurring inside the shear zone in contact with the material counterface and soil contraction in a surrounding outer zone. Fundamental micromechanical processes that aim to explain the differences between the behavior of axial and torsional tests are proposed.
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