The fundamental fractal micro mechanics of normal compression of granular materials is studied using DEM. This paper examines the emergence of a finite fractal bounded by two particle sizes as stress increases, and the evolution of various definitions of the ‘smallest particles’. It is revealed that if particles are categorised according to their coordination number, then the volume of all particles with 4 contacts or fewer is directly proportional to the void space. These particles are called ‘critical particles’ and are shown, for the first time, to explain quantitatively the voids reduction with increasing vertical stress
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