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Original Title: Analysis of Crack Coalescence in Rock-like Materials

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three ﬂawsFPart I: experimental approach

R.H.C. Wonga,*, K.T. Chaua, C.A. Tangb, P. Linb

a

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong, China

b

Centre for Rock Instability and Seismicity Research, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China

Accepted 6 September 2001

Abstract

Fractures in the forms of joints and microcracks are commonly found in natural rocks, and their failure mechanism strongly

depends on the crack coalescence pattern between pre-existing ﬂaws. However, the crack coalescence pattern of rock specimens

containing three or more ﬂaws has not been studied comprehensively. In this paper, we investigate experimentally crack coalescence

and peak strength of rock-like materials containing three parallel frictional ﬂaws. Three ﬂaws are arranged such that one pair of

ﬂaws lines collinearly and the third ﬂaw forms either a non-overlapping pattern or an overlapping pattern with the ﬁrst ﬂaw. It is

found that the mechanisms of crack coalescence depend on the ﬂaw arrangement and the frictional coeﬃcient m on the ﬂaw surface.

Two ‘‘rules of failure’’ for the specimens containing three ﬂaws are proposed. Rule No. 1: the pair of ﬂaws with a lower value of

coalescence stress will dominate the process of coalescence. Rule No. 2: mixed and tensile modes of coalescence are always the dominant

modes if the coalescence stress of the two pairs of ﬂaws is very close (say within 5%). In addition, it is found that the peak strength of

the specimens does not depend on the initial crack density but on the actual number of pre-existing ﬂaws involved in the coalescence.

Comparisons of pattern of crack coalescence with the numerical approach are given in Part II of this study, and the two results agree

well. The research reported here provides increased understanding of the fundamental nature of rock failure in uniaxial

compression. r 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

progressively parallel to the compression direction. At

When a brittle rock is loaded to failure, cracks the early stages, when the wing crack is short, the

nucleate and propagate from pre-existing inhomogene- growth is dominated by the stress ﬁeld around the pre-

ities, which can be in the form of pores, fractures, existing fracture from which it grows. As the crack

inclusions or other defects. Crack initiation and extends, it start to interact with neighbouring micro-

propagation in solids have been studied since the early cracks, and this interaction ultimately leads to crack

twenties [1,2]. Particular reference to fractures in rocks, coalescence and ﬁnal failure of the sample [16].

systematic, theoretical and experimental investigations Fracture propagation leading to rock failure is a very

of crack initiation, propagation and interaction began at important topic in rock mechanics research. A number

about the middle of the last century and have continued of studies have been done on two-dimensional (2-D)

since [3–18]. It is recognized that under the compressive model plates with through going pre-existing fractures

loading, both tensile and shear stress concentrations can [3–29] and some of them have been done on 3-D

develop at pre-existing inhomogeneities in rock. As the specimens [30–33]. In reality, pre-existing fractures are

compression applied to the rock further increases, 3-D in nature. The growth mechanisms of a 3-D crack

tensile cracks will be initiated. In the shear sliding crack may be more complicated. Actually, according to the

model, this tensile crack is called a wing crack, which observations by Germanovich et al. [30–32] and

Germanovich and Dyskin [33], unlike in 2-D samples,

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +852-2766-6057; fax: +852-2334-

there are intrinsic limits on the growth of a crack in a

6389. 3-D model. However, the failure mechanism of rocks

E-mail address: cerwong@polyu.edu.hk (R.H.C. Wong). containing 3-D cracks is out of the scope of the present

1365-1609/01/$ - see front matter r 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

PII: S 1 3 6 5 - 1 6 0 9 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 0 6 4 - 8

910 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Flaw

2c

Shear Crack

Tensile Shear Crack

2b Crack Tensile Crack

Fig. 1. Three main modes of crack coalescence in 2-ﬂaw specimens, where (a) is wing tensile mode, (b) is shear mode, and (c) is mixed mode (tensile

and shear). The ﬂaw length 2c and the bridge distance between the two ﬂaws 2b are ﬁxed with 2c=12 mm and 2b=20 mm.

study. In particular, the fundamental mechanisms of It was found that the initial geometric setting of the

crack coalescence of 2-D model have not been fully parallel ﬂaw controls the mechanism of crack coales-

investigated, and the failure process of ﬂawed rocks is cence. The patterns of crack coalescence observed are

still not fully understood. Thus, the present study is similar to those reported in the study by Reyes and

focused only on the propagation of 2-D cracks. The Einstein [20]. The failure of ﬂawed solids may occur in

following literatures are reviewed and experimental tensile and/or shear modes, depending on the geometric

studies are investigated on the 2-D models. relation between the two pre-existing ﬂaws. Although

To study the failure of brittle rocks, Nemat-Nasser some of the fundamental mechanisms of crack coales-

and Horii [12] and Horii and Nemat-Nasser [14,15] cence have been established, understanding of the

investigated the mechanism of crack interactions and the complete failure process of ﬂawed rocks and the

ﬁnal failure pattern in fractured (ﬂawed) plates made of patterns of crack coalescence is still incomplete.

Columbia resin CR39 under uniaxial as well as biaxial Based upon the experimental work of Reyes and

compression. Their specimens contain a series of ﬂaws1 Einstein [20] and Shen et al. [21], Wong [22], Wong and

of diﬀerent lengths and orientations (e.g. see Figs. 8,9 Chau [23–25] reconsidered the problems of crack

and 17,18 of reference [14]). They showed that ﬂaw coalescence and the strength between two ﬂaws using a

length is one of the parameters controlling the failure rock-like material (made of barite, sand, plaster and

pattern of the specimens. In general, larger ﬂaws control water) under uniaxial compression. Three main factors

the mechanism of coalescence in the form of axial were varied to investigate the failure patterns: they are

splitting under uniaxial compression with little or no ﬂaw angle ‘a’ (inclination of the ﬂaw), bridge angle ‘b’

crack growth from the small ﬂaws. Under biaxial (angle between two ﬂaws) and frictional coeﬃcient ‘m’ of

compression, the growth of larger ﬂaws is followed by the ﬂaw surface, under the conditions of a ﬁxed ﬂaw

the growth of smaller ﬂaws and the ﬁnal failure is a length ‘2c’ and a ﬁxed distance between ﬂaws ‘2b’ [23].

coalescence of the smaller ﬂaws in a form of shear zone In general, three main modes of crack coalescence were

or fault. Their studies provide fundamental under- observed as shown in Fig. 1. They are the wing tensile

standing of macroscopic failure in relation to the crack mode (crack coalescence involving the growth of wing

distribution. However, the crack growth and its inter- cracks along the direction parallel to the compression),

action between two ﬂaws are not fully understood. the shear mode (links between two ﬂaws along the

Reyes [19] and Reyes and Einstein [20] studied the direction roughly parallel to the ﬂaw), and the mixed

failure mechanisms of specimens containing two inclined mode (shear/tensile). As illustrated in Fig. 2, Wong and

non-overlapping open ﬂaws. They found that wing Chau [23] proposed a classiﬁcation of patterns for three

cracks and secondary cracks (which initiate after the diﬀerent failure modes (tensile, shear and mixed), for

wing crack) may occur and eventually lead to coales- diﬀerent combinations of ﬂaw angle a; bridge angle b

cence under uniaxial compression. To incorporate the and frictional coeﬃcient m on ﬂaw surface. Triangles,

eﬀect of crack surface friction, Shen et al. [21] conducted rhombuses and squares were the data points of the 2-

a series of uniaxial compressive tests on gypsum ﬂaw specimens for shear, mixed and wing tensile modes,

specimens containing both open and closed fractures. respectively.

Actually, for similar ﬂaw geometry under uniaxial

1

We will refer to the pre-existing fracture as a ‘ﬂaw’, and the compression (i.e. similar a; b and b=c ¼ 1:6; the ratio of

initiated or propagated fracture as a ‘crack’. ﬂaw length and bridge length) the patterns of crack

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 911

(density) once a threshold value of ﬂaw density is

exceeded.

Although previous studies provide a general under-

standing of the coalescence pattern between two ﬂaws,

when specimens contain three or more ﬂaws, the crack

interaction between the ﬂaws has not been studied

comprehensively. This is important because rock con-

tain many ﬂaws. Thus, Wong et al. [28,29] reported very

brieﬂy the results of specimens containing two ﬂaws to

multiple ﬂaws under both uniaxial and biaxial compres-

sion. The number of ﬂaws in the specimens was from 3

to 42. To report the results more comprehensively, we

present in this paper only the results of crack

coalescence and peak stress of rock-like materials

containing three ﬂaws. The research of this paper is of

fundamental importance to understand the mechanism

controlling crack coalescence in the multiple ﬂawed

specimens.

In this study, the ﬂaw angle a; bridge angle b and the

frictional coeﬃcient m are varied under a ﬁxed ﬂaw

length ‘2c’ and bridge length ‘2b’, which have been

deﬁned in Fig. 1. Our main interest is to investigate the

dominant factors controlling the failure patterns in

specimens containing three ﬂaws. A further objective of

the present paper is to investigate the failure mechanism

of rock bridges in brittle materials containing multiple

ﬂaws in order to represent fully the failure of intact rock.

The numerical study of the same problem is presented in

Fig. 2. Classiﬁcations of coalescence of a 2-ﬂaw specimen with Part II [34].

diﬀerent combinations of ﬂaw angle a; bridge angle b and frictional

There are two general areas where a study of this type

coeﬃcient m: (a) is the classiﬁcation for m ¼ 0:6 and (b) is the

classiﬁcation for m ¼ 0:7: Triangles, rhombuses and squares were the could prove useful: in problems of stability of rock in

data points of the 2-ﬂaw specimens for shear, mixed and wing tensile civil engineering, such as the excavated underground

modes, respectively. The S-regime is the regime in which the shear openings or slopes, and in fracture mechanics involving

mode of crack coalescence is expected to occur. The M-regime is the multiple ﬂaws. The relevant observations in the ﬁrst case

regime in which the mixed shear/tensile mode of crack coalescence is

are that the collapse of a rock structure containing non-

likely to occur, and the W-regime is the regime in which wing crack

failures are expected (after Wong and Chau [23]). persistent joints may be preceded by several stages of

crack propagation, interaction and coalescence. Our

investigation should provide the fundamental under-

coalescence observed by Bobet and Einstein [26] fall standing of crack propagation, interaction and coales-

within the classiﬁcation of Wong and Chau [23]. Bobet cence in rock under uniaxial compression. With respect

and Einstein [26] and Bobet [27] investigated the pattern to the contribution to fracture mechanics, the coales-

of crack coalescence under both uniaxial and biaxial cence of multiple non-persistent joints is involved in the

compression. They found that the patterns of crack fracture of all brittle materials.

coalescence not only depend on the ﬂaw geometry but

also on the stress conditions. Wing cracks initiate at the

ﬂaw tips for uniaxial or low conﬁnement biaxial 2. Experimental studies

conditions, but the location of crack initiation moves

to the middle of the ﬂaw and wing cracks disappear In order to have a good comparison between our

completely for higher conﬁning stresses. For the relation present study and the previous study, the mixture of the

between the strength and the pattern of crack coales- modelling material is the same as that used by of Wong

cence of specimens, Wong [22] and Wong and Chau [24] and Chau [23], which is a mixture of barite, sand, plaster

found that the compressive strength of the specimen for and water with a mass ratio of 2 : 4 : 1 : 1.5. The average

wing crack coalescence is normally lower than that for values of unit weight, uniaxial compressive strength,

shear crack coalescence. Furthermore, Wong and Chau tensile strength and frictional coeﬃcient of the model-

[25] found that the strength of cracked solids does not ling material are gm ¼ 17:68 kN/m3, scm ¼ 2:09 MPa,

912 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

age value of the tangent Young’s modulus (Em ) at 50%

of peak strength is 0.33 GPa and the Poisson’s ratio (nm )

is 0.19. The fracture toughness KIC of the modelling

material is 0.0443 MPam1/2. The p factors of dimen-

sional analysis of this artiﬁcial material have been found

comparable to the physical ranges of the p factors for

sandstone; therefore, Wong and Chau [23] concluded

that the material is appropriate as a sandstone-like

modelling material. The overall dimensions of specimens

containing three ﬂaws are 60 mm wide 120 mm

long 25 mm thick. To simplify the present analysis,

the bridge length 2b (distance between two ﬂaws) and

the ﬂaw length 2c are ﬁxed at 20 and 12 mm,

respectively.

Flaws were created by inserting steel shims into three

slots in the mould template and removing them during

curing (Fig. 3). Diﬀerent degrees of the roughness of the

ﬂaw surface are created by applying diﬀerent numbers

of punch marks to the smooth steel shims (Fig. 4). The

frictional coeﬃcients on the ﬂaw surfaces are measured

by the titling test on specimens with a through going Fig. 4. The stainless steel shims with diﬀerent roughness used in

ﬂaw. The mean frictional coeﬃcient on ﬂaw surfaces creating the ﬂaws in the modelling material. The top and lower shims

simulated by inserting plain steel shim is 0.6, while give a frictional coeﬃcient of 0.6 and 0.7 on the surfaces of the ﬂaws,

that simulated by steel shim with punched-indentations respectively.

is 0.7.

Two diﬀerent ﬂaw angles ‘a’ were used to investigate of 151. Thus, there are two diﬀerent bridge angles

the eﬀect of ﬂaw geometry on the pattern of crack between the three ﬂaws. As is illustrated in Fig. 2, the

coalescence. The chosen ﬂaw angles are 451 and 651, ﬂaw settings of b ¼ 451 result in a shear coalescence

where 651 is the preferred orientation for the frictional pattern, and the other settings of b ¼ 751 to 1201 result

ﬂaws (m ¼ 0:620:7) of the specimen to slide under in mixed and tensile coalescence modes. Therefore, we

uniaxial compression [23]. The layout of specimens can investigate whether coalescence occurs along the

containing three ﬂaws is shown in Fig. 5. For sake of rock bridge of b1 (i.e. shear crack coalescence), along

later discussions, the three ﬂaws are labelled as , and that rock bridge of b2 (i.e. tensile and mixed crack

, respectively. coalescence), or along the rock bridge of both b1 and b2 :

As shown in Fig. 5, there are two bridge angles b1 and Then the possible relevance of the coalescence in the 2-

b2 for the three-ﬂaw model. In the experiments, b1 ﬂaw-specimens to the 3-ﬂaw-specimens can also be

(between ﬂaws and ) is ﬁxed at 451, and b2 (between examined.

ﬂaws and ) varies from 751 to 1201 with increments To obtain reliable results in the experiment, the

sample preparation procedures were under well control.

The modelling materials were weighed by using the

electronic weighting balance to a 70.01. Each mixing

procedure was under time control where for the mixture

of barium sulphate and sand it was 4 min. Then cold

water was added evenly and mixed until all particles had

been wetted (4 min). Finally, plaster was added and

mixed evenly until the mixture became a churn-like

paste (7 min). The mixture was then poured into a

mould under vibration (4 min).

To prevent the boundary condition of specimen

aﬀecting the results of experiments, the positions of

three pre-existing ﬂaws were designed as far away as

possible from the side boundaries of specimen. Other-

wise, local failure may be observed instead of crack

Fig. 3. Flaws are created in the specimen by inserting stainless steel coalescence between the pre-existing ﬂaws during the

shims into three slots in the mould template. testing.

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 913

the front and behind the specimen for measuring the

vertical deformation of the specimen. Only three of

specimens fail suddenly after peak applied stress;

otherwise, the recorded displacement rate is rather

steady up to peak applied stress and even after.

Therefore, there should be no appreciable diﬀerence

between the displacement and load control in our

Outer Flaw Tip particular case. Thus, the loading process can be

considered as displacement-controlled approximately.

The setting of the apparatus is shown in Fig. 6 where a

load cell of 5 kN is placed below the lower loading

Inner Flaw Tip platen to measure the applied load. To reduce the

1 friction between the specimen and the loading platens,

β1 two pieces of polythene sheet were inserted. All speci-

Inner Flaw Tip mens were loaded until either the ﬂaws coalesced or the

specimen failed, which is identiﬁed by the drop in the

β2 applied load. All the loading and displacement records

2 are transferred to and stored in an IBM PC through a

3

KYOWA UCAM-5B Data Logger.

α In all the reported experiments, no local failure was

observed, thus no sample boundaries aﬀect to the results

of our experiment.

Outer Flaw Tip

between specimens containing two and three ﬂaws

modes of coalescence in the bridge area, wing tensile,

shear and mixed (tensile and shear), for specimens

Fig. 5. The layout of specimens containing three ﬂaws. The inclina-

containing two ﬂaws. To compare the patterns of crack

tions of the pre-existing ﬂaws a used in this study are 451 and 651. The

bridge angle of b1 is ﬁxed at 451, while b2 vary from 751 to 1201. The coalescence between specimens containing two and three

length of ﬂaw 2c is ﬁxed at 12 mm. The bridge distance between the ﬂaws, Figs. 7 and 8 report all the failure patterns

two ﬂaws 2b is ﬁxed at 20 mm. The inner and outer ﬂaw tips are also for various values of ﬂaw angle (a ¼ 451 and 651),

shown. bridge angle (b ¼ 451; 751–1201) and frictional co-

eﬃcient (m ¼ 0:6 and 0.7) for 2- and 3-ﬂaw-specimens,

In this study, two specimens with the same parameters respectively.

have been cast and tested. If the pattern of crack The notations S (shear mode crack coalescence), MI,

coalescence for both specimens is the same, the mean MII (mixed shear/tensile mode crack coalescence), WI,

value of the peak strength is taken. If only one fails by WII, WIII and WII/III (wing tensile mode crack

crack coalescence and the other fails but without crack coalescence) are the same as those used in Fig. 6 of

coalescence, one more specimen with the same para- Wong and Chau [23] which is also given in Fig. 9 here.

meters was prepared and tested. If both specimens failed For the S-type coalescence, crack links between the tip

with no crack coalescence, two more specimens with the of two ﬂaws along the direction roughly parallel to the

same parameters were prepared and tested. If, again, no ﬂaw. For the MI-type coalescence, the growing wing

crack coalescence was observed for these additional cracks, which initiated from the two tips of the ﬂaws, are

specimens, the mean peak strength of these specimens is coalesced by a shear crack in the middle of bridge area.

recorded for comparison purposes only. For the MII-type of coalescence, a growing wing crack

The uniaxial compression tests of the specimens were is coalesced by a shear crack that appeared at the other

performed in a Wykeham Farrance WF-5562s loading tip of a ﬂaw. The WI-type of coalescence is a simple

machine. This is a load control machine available in our coalescence between two wing cracks. The WII-type of

rock mechanics laboratory. The average loading rate is coalescence is resulted as a growing wing crack coalesces

about 0.002 kN/s, and it takes about 25–30 min to load with the other ﬂaw. The WIII-type of coalescence is a

914 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Fig. 6. The layout of the loading system with the displacement recording system.

growing wing crack joining the outer tip of the other settings. There are three possible scenarios in the process

ﬂaw. From comparisons of Figs. 7 and 8, for the same of crack growth. (1) In about 27% of the specimens,

a=b it is observed that the type of failure patterns in the tensile cracks (wing cracks) initiate ﬁrst at the tips of the

3-ﬂaw specimens are the same as those for the 2-ﬂaw two ﬂaws (either the ﬂaw , or ) followed by wing

specimens. Coalescence in the 3-ﬂaw specimens can crack initiation from a third ﬂaw at a later stage.

again be identiﬁed as either shear S, wing tensile WI or However, no matter which wing crack initiates ﬁrst,

mixed (tensile and shear) MI and MII depending on the crack coalescence occurs only between two ﬂaws (ﬂaws

values of a; m and the coalescence angle bc ; deﬁned as the and ) at failure. (2) In about 60% of the specimens,

bridge angle along which the crack coalescence occurs wing cracks initiate from only two ﬂaws (either between

(i.e. either b1 or b2 ). Unlike the studies on 2-ﬂaw models ﬂaws and or ﬂaws and ), with no wing crack

(Fig. 7), coalescence with a bridge angle b of 1201 was nucleating from the third ﬂaw during the whole loading

not observed in all specimens with three ﬂaws (Fig. 8). process and the ﬁnal coalescence also does not involve

For 3-ﬂaw specimens with bridge angles of b1 ; b2 ¼ 451; the third crack. (3) In the remaining 13% of specimens,

1201, coalescence occurs only for b1 ¼ 451 but not for wing cracks initiate from all three ﬂaws at the same time,

b2 ¼ 1201 (Fig. 8). but no crack coalescence is observed at failure.

The classiﬁcation given in Fig. 2 of this study suggests The process of coalescence between the growing wing

that the appearance of these modes of coalescence cracks is normally slow enough to be captured by eye

depends on the values of a; b and m: The patterns of observation. It is observed that crack initiates ﬁrst at

crack coalescence for 3-ﬂaw specimens in the a bc either inner tip or outer tip of the ﬂaws, followed by

space for m ¼ 0:6 and 0.7 were superimposed onto the crack growth at the other tip of the same ﬂaw (see the

regime classiﬁcation given in Fig. 2; and the results are deﬁnitions of inner and outer tips in Fig. 5). In general,

plotted on Fig. 10. The triangles, rhombuses and the growth of cracks at the outer tips is faster than that

squares in circles are used to denote the data points observed at the inner tips. The growth rate of each inner

for shear, mixed and wing tensile modes observed in the crack is not the same. When an inner crack grows

3-ﬂaw specimens, respectively. Except for one specimen rapidly, the other inner tip of ﬂaw normally grows much

with a=bc =m ¼ 451=1051=0:6 (see Fig. 10a), it is found slower and even seems to stop growing. This is because

that all of the experimental results for 3-ﬂaw specimens of the higher stress concentration around the growing

fall within the same regimes classiﬁcation of 2-ﬂaw inner crack tip and causing the crack to grow further.

specimens. With a nearby propagating inner crack, a high stress

concentration at the neighbouring inner crack tip will be

3.2. General observation for 3-ﬂaw specimens aﬀected. A further discussion of stress distribution

within the bridge area will be presented in Part II of

Experimental observations (see Fig. 8) show that this study [34]. The types of cracking in the bridge area

crack coalescence occurred in 14 out of the 16 geometric between the three ﬂaws can be wing tensile, shear, or a

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 915

Fig. 7. The mode of crack coalescence for specimens containing two ﬂaws. The angles b represent the bridge angle with m ¼ 0:6 and 0.7. The

notations S (shear mode crack coalescence), MI, MII (mixed mode crack coalescence), WI, WII, WIII and WII/III (wing tensile mode crack

coalescence) are the same as those proposed in Fig. 6 of Wong and Chau [23] or Fig. 9 of this paper.

mix of these. Furthermore, it is observed that if the Fig. 8 illustrates the very important feature that crack

growth rate of the inner cracks is the same, no coalescence occurs only between two ﬂaws either

coalescence occurs even when the applied stress drops. between ﬂaws and or between and , and never

In general, when an inner crack coalesces with the between ﬂaws and . What makes the ﬂaw to

neighbouring inner crack, the applied stress will coalesce with the ﬂaw but why not the or the

decrease. The test is stopped until the axial stress drops reverse order? Why crack coalescence does not occur

to 70% of the peak stress. between ﬂaws and under uniaxial compression?

916 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Fig. 8. The mode of crack coalescence for specimens containing three ﬂaws with 16 combinations of a; (b1 ; b2 ) and m: The bridge angles b1 shows the

angle between ﬂaws and , b2 shows the angle between ﬂaws and . The notations S, MI, MII and WI are the same as those in Fig. 9.

What is the dominant factor that controls the failure specimens, the following rules of coalescence are

patterns in the multiple ﬂawed specimens? The following formulated:

section attempts to address these questions by formulat-

ing two rules of coalescence for the 3-ﬂaw models. Rule 1. Crack coalescence always occurs between

that pair of ﬂaws for which the coalescence stress is

smaller.

3.3. Rules of coalescence for solids containing 3 frictional

ﬂaws Rule 2. Mixed and tensile modes of crack coalescence

are always the dominant modes when the values of the

By comparing the experimental mode of failure coalescence stress between the pairs of ﬂaws are very

observations on 3-ﬂaw specimens with those for 2-ﬂaw close (say within 5%).

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 917

Shear

Shear Crack

Shear

Crack Crack

Wing

Wing Crack

Crack

S MI M II

Wing Wing

Crack Crack

Wing

Crack

WI W II W III

Fig. 9. Six diﬀerent patterns of crack coalescence observed in the 2-ﬂaw specimens. The notations S, M and W indicate the shear, mixed (shear/

tensile) and wing tensile mode crack coalescence, respectively (after Wong and Chau [23]).

To demonstrate the above rules, the observed data of that comply with ‘‘Rule 1’’ are marked with super-

the 3-ﬂaw specimens are summarised in Table 1. The script ‘‘1’’.

peak strength results (or coalescence stress, in general, However, some data in Table 1 do not comply with

crack coalescence was observed at about the peak Rule 1. For example (see Table 1), for the 3-ﬂaw

strength of specimen) for the 2-ﬂaw specimens are specimen with the parameter set a=ðb1 ; b2 Þ=m ¼

tabulated in Table 1 together with the results for the 3- 65=ð45; 75Þ=0:6; the coalescence stress for 2-ﬂaw speci-

ﬂaw specimens with the same a; m and bc (coalescence men with a=bc ¼ 651=451 is 1.42 MPa, for specimen

angle). For example, for the 3-ﬂaw specimens with the with a=bc ¼ 651=751 is 1.45 MPa. If ‘‘Rule 1’’ is the

parameter set a=ðb1 ; b2 Þ=m ¼ 451=ð451; 751Þ=0:6; there only rule for coalescence, the angle of coalescence bc for

are two possible angles of coalescence bc ¼ 451 (coales- data set a=ðb1 ; b2 Þ=m ¼ 65=ð45; 75Þ=0:6 should be 451

cence between ﬂaw and ) or bc ¼ 751 (coalescence (coalescence between ﬂaws and ) instead of 751

between ﬂaw and ). The coalescence stress for 2-ﬂaw (coalescence between ﬂaws and ). However, the

specimen with a=bc ¼ 451=451 is 1.67 MPa, compared coalescence in 3-ﬂaw specimen is between ﬂaws and

with 1.59 MPa for specimen with a=bc ¼ 451=751 (this (Table 1 and Fig. 11b). Consequently, ‘‘Rule 2’’ is

coalescence stress is smaller than 1.67 MPa). Fig. 11 formulated for crack coalescence for 3-ﬂaw models as:

shows the peak strength and crack coalescence of 2-ﬂaw ‘‘when the coalescence stress of the two pairs of ﬂaw is

specimens of b ¼ 451 and 751 and 3-ﬂaw specimen of very close (say within 5%), mixed and tensile modes of

b1 =b2 ¼ 451=751 with the same m (0.6) and the same a crack coalescence always dominate’’. All data that

together. The mode of coalescence for the 3-ﬂaw comply with ‘‘Rule 2’’ are indicated by the superscript

specimens is clearly the same as that for the 2-ﬂaw ‘‘2’’ in Table 1.

specimen with a=bc ¼ 451=751 (between ﬂaws and Table 1 shows that 12 of the 14 coalescence sets of 3-

in Fig. 11a). Therefore, ‘‘Rule 1’’ applies in this case. ﬂaw data conform to these rules of coalescence, a

That is, a bc value that corresponds to the smaller conformity of 86%. If b2 equals to 751 or 901, the

coalescence stress seems to prevail in the process of conformity is 100%. Since these rules of crack coales-

crack coalescence. In the lower part of Table 1, all data cence are rather preliminary based on limited tests,

918 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Fig. 10. (a,b) Modes of crack coalescence for specimens containing three ﬂaws superimposed onto the classiﬁcations given in Fig. 2. Symbols ,

and indicate the shear, mixed shear/tensile and wing tensile modes of coalescence observed in the 3-ﬂaw specimens, respectively.

numerical simulation studies were conducted and will be Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12]). In order to give a clear

presented in Part II of this study [34]. discussion and illustration, Fig. 12 reproduces the

Up to this stage, it cannot be explained why crack experimental observation given in Fig. 18(b) of Nemat-

coalescence does not occur between ﬂaws and . The Nasser and Horii [12]. Three of the ﬂaws are named

following section attempts to address this question by similar to the 3-ﬂaw specimens of , and . Under

comparison with Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12]. uniaxial compression, wing cracks initiate and propa-

gate (the solid line) from the tips of the ﬂaws. The wing

3.4. Comparison with Nemat-Nasser and Horii (1982) cracks from the lower row ﬂaw tips (e.g. ﬂaw )

propagate upward to the upper one (e.g. ﬂaw ), and

It is instructive to compare the observations of this those wing cracks from the upper row ﬂaw tips grow

study to those by Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12], who downward to the lower one. However, the specimens

used Columbia resin CR39 as the modelling material. failed by axial splitting rather than localized coalescence

The specimens were 6 mm thick, ﬂaw lengths about failure. In contrast, coalescence failures were formed in

12 mm, ﬂaw widths or openings about 0.4 mm, and each the specimens for this study (see Fig. 8) under uniaxial

crack was lined with two 0.2 mm thick brass shims in compression for the same values of a and b: This

order to reduce friction between the two ﬂaw faces. The discrepancy between the present study and that by

ﬂaw distance (bridge length) was 12 mm and a was 451. Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12] may have resulted from:

The specimens contained two rows of two parallel (i) their material and the one used in this study are

collinear ﬂaws with b1 of 451 and b2 of 901 (estimated by conducive to diﬀerent modes of failure even though

direct measurements on Figs. 17(a–c) and 18(a–b) of both are brittle; and (ii) their frictional coeﬃcient m

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 919

Table 1

A comparison of the experimental peak strength for specimens containing two ﬂaws and three ﬂaws

Two ﬂaws

45 45 45 1.67 45 1.88

75 75 1.59 75 1.80

90 90 1.59 90 1.57

105 105 1.88 105 1.84

120 120 1.64 120 1.73

65 45 45 1.42 45 1.44

75 75 1.45 75 1.49

90 90 1.49 90 1.48

105 105 1.51 105 1.52

120 Nob 1.46 120 1.48

Three ﬂaws

a (1) b1 ; b2 m ¼ 0:6 m ¼ 0:7

1 1

45 45, 75 75 1.59 75 1.73

45, 90 901 1.57 901 1.73

45, 105 105a 1.60 1051 1.61

45, 120 Nob 1.69 45a 1.70

45, 90 902 1.42 902 1.52

45, 105 451 1.51 451 1.62

45, 120 451 1.51 Nob 1.58

a

These results do not comply with the ‘‘rule of failure’’.

b

No crack coalescence occurs at failure.

751 Data comply with Rule 1.

902 Data comply with Rule 2.

(which is actually not given) may be very small a higher value of m had been used in our study, therefore

comparing to that of the present study. As illustrated no crack coalescence is observed between ﬂaws and

in Wong and Chau [23], deviation of the orientation of in our 3-ﬂaws study. As reviewed from Fig. 8, for those

wing cracks from the line of ﬂaw decreases with increase cracks initiated from ﬂaws and , the growth of inner

of m: To further illustrate the second possible reason, tip of ﬂaw propagates towards ﬂaw , while the

Fig. 8 from Wong and Chau [23] is redrawn in Fig. 12 growth of outer tip of ﬂaw grows towards the edge of

(the small ﬁgure at the left lower corner) together with specimen under uniaxial compression. For the same ﬂaw

the reproduction of Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12]. As arrangement under a biaxial compression [28], second-

shown in the ﬁgure, if a higher value of m had been used ary crack can initiate at the outer tip of ﬂaw ,

on the surfaces of the ﬂaws, the path for the growth of propagate towards ﬂaw and coalesce. In this case,

wing cracks would have been more likely to follow a failure involves three ﬂaws.

path linking the ﬂaw tips (between ﬂaws and ,

indicated by the dotted line in Fig. 12). Therefore, it is

clear from the small ﬁgure of Fig. 12 that specimens with 4. Peak strength of ﬂawed specimens

a higher value of the frictional coeﬃcient m on the ﬂaw

surfaces are more conducive to wing crack coalescence Table 1 shows that the peak strength for specimens

compared to cases of small m values (as in the with the same a; b and m are basically the same,

experiment of Nemat-Nasser & Horii [12]). If zero m regardless of whether they contain two or three ﬂaws.

value has been used on the surfaces of the ﬂaws, the path In other words, peak strength appears not to decrease

for the growth of wing cracks would have been more proportionally with the initial ﬂaw density.

likely to follow a path linking the ﬂaw tips between These observations not only appear in 3-ﬂaw specimens,

and (indicated by the dotted line in Fig. 12). However, but also were observed in the modelling specimens

920 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Fig. 11. (a,b) The mode of crack coalescence and the peak stress of specimens containing two ﬂaws and three ﬂaws with the same a; b and m

presented here for discussion on the two rules of coalescence for solids containing three ﬂaws.

containing multiple ﬂaws (18 and 42 with the specimen the following total stress intensity factor KI for the

size of 400 mm 400 mm 25 mm [24]). This is also growth of wing cracks:

precisely what was observed for the Hong Kong granite " #

by Wong and Chau [25], and Yuen Long marble by KI ðsin 2c m þ m cos 2cÞ 1

pﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ ¼ 0:23L þ pﬃﬃﬃ

Wong et al. [35] that peak strength does not decrease s1 pc ð1 þ LÞ3=2 3ð1 þ LÞ1=2

with initial ﬂaw density once a threshold value of ﬂaw

2e0 ðL þ cos cÞ 1=2

density is exceeded. We speculate that the peak strength þ ; ð1Þ

p

for a specimen is not proportional to the number of

ﬂaws, and the following hypothesis is thus proposed. where s1 is the uniaxial compression, c is the angle

The peak strength for ﬂawed specimens does not depend measured from the s1 -direction to the direction along

on the total number of pre-existing ﬂaws, but only on the the ﬂaw surface (i.e. c ¼ 901 a), 2c is the length of the

number of ﬂaws actually involved in the formation of the pre-existing ﬂaw, L ¼ c=c is the normalized length of the

failure pattern. (Note, the above conclusion is from wing cracks (c is the length of the growing wing crack),

specimens with ﬁxed ﬂaw spacing of 20 mm [24], and m is the frictional coeﬃcient along the shear or frictional

from Yuen Long marble with varying ﬂaw spacing from ﬂaw, and the ﬂaw density e0 is deﬁned as Nc2 =A (N is the

53 to 106 mm [35]). number of ﬂaw per area A). Although strictly speaking

To examine this hypothesis, the model by Ashby and (1) is for the case of multiple initial ﬂaws, it was found

Hallam [16] is employed. Ashby and Hallam [16] derived that it can also be applied to the specimen containing

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 921

the two ﬂaws). In this study, the initial ﬂaw density of

specimens containing three ﬂaws is e0 ¼ 0:015

(e0 ¼ Nc2 =A note that N ¼ 3; A ¼ 0:06 m 0.12 m and

c ¼ 0:006 m). Predictions of the normalized peak

1 OðpcÞ=KIC Þ) by using Eq. (2) and the

strength (ðsmax

experimental observations are tabulated in Table 3. To

demonstrate the above hypothesis, the peak strength of

β1 the specimens containing 18 and 42 ﬂaws [24] are

Possible path for crack tabulated in Table 3 together with the results for the 3-

growth if µ is higher ﬂaw specimens with the same ﬂaw length 2c, bridge

β2 length 2b, a; b and m: For the specimen containing 18

1

ﬂaws, 3 rows of 6 collinear ﬂaws are placed at the central

region. For the specimen containing 42 ﬂaws, the ﬂaw

2 arrangement is 9 rows of 4 collinear ﬂaws at the central

region and 2 rows of 3 parallel ﬂaws at the upper and

Wing Crack lower ends of specimen. The density of the multiple

µ = 0.9 3 ﬂawed specimens for 18 and 42 ﬂaws are e0 ¼ 0:016 and

0.7

0.6 0.038, respectively (Table 3). It is found that if initial

0.0 Possible path for

ﬂaw density e0 is used in the calculation, the prediction is

crack growth if µ much lower than the experimental observations. The

is zero hypothesis was then tested by using the number of ﬂaws

Pre-existing involved in the formation of the failure pattern in

Flaw

calculating ﬂaw density ef: For the 3-ﬂaw specimen, ef ¼

From Fig.8 of Wong 0:01 is used, because the observations presented in this

1 in

and Chau [23]

study show that ﬁnal crack coalescence involves only

two ﬂaws but not three. For 18- and 42-ﬂaws specimens,

the number of ﬂaws involved in the failure pattern are 15

and 5. Thus the values of the adjusted crack density are

ef ¼ 0:0135 and 0.0045, respectively. It is found that the

Fig. 12. Shows the eﬀect of m on the path of wing crack propagation.

predicted peak strength based on ﬂaw density ef agrees

The specimen with two parallel rows of collinear pre-existing cracks is

adopted from Fig. 18 of Nemat-Nasser and Horii [12]. For a higher m; well with the experiments, as shown in Table 3.

the possible path for crack growth may occur between ﬂaws and .

For a lower mE0; the possible path for crack growth may appear

between ﬂaws and . The small ﬁgure showing the eﬀect of m on the

path of wing crack from Fig. 8 of Wong and Chau [23] is redrawn here 5. Conclusions

for comparison.

In this study, experimental results on the mechanism

of crack coalescence and on the peak strength of rock-

two ﬂaws (see Table 2 of [23] which is also given in like materials containing three ﬂaws under uniaxial

Table 2 of present study). Therefore, the peak uni- compression loading were presented. The specimens

axial compressive strength smax

1 of a ﬂawed solid can be used in this study are made of a sandstone-like material

estimated as Wong and Chau [23]: and contain three parallel frictional ﬂaws. Various

smax

1

values of inclination of these ﬂaw angles a; the bridge

( angle b and the frictional coeﬃcient m were used in our

KIC ½sin 2c m þ m cos 2c parametric studies. For specimens containing three

¼ pﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

pc ð1 þ Lcr Þ3=2 ﬂaws, it was found that:

" #

1

0:23Lcr þ pﬃﬃﬃ * Crack coalescence occurs between only two ﬂaws (not

3ð1 þ Lcr Þ1=2

three).

)1

2e0 ðLcr þ cos cÞ 1=2 * The mechanisms of crack coalescence depend on the

þ ; ð2Þ coalescence stress of the pair of ﬂaws. The lower

p

value of coalescence stress between the pair of ﬂaws

where KIC is the fracture toughness (0.0443 MPaOm for will dominate the process of coalescence.

our modelling material), Lcr ¼ cmax =cðcmax ¼ 2b sin b is * Mixed and wing tensile modes of coalescence are

the maximum possible value for the length of the more likely to occur than shear mode, if the

922 R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924

Table 2

The experimental and theoretical results of the peak strength of specimens containing two ﬂaws (Wong and Chau [23])

a (1) b (1) Normalized peak stress s1 OðpcÞ=KIC ðm ¼ 0:6Þ Normalized peak stress s1 OðpcÞ=KIC ðm ¼ 0:7Þ

45 75 4.95 4.93 5.67 5.19

45 90 4.94 4.89 4.85a 5.14

45 105 5.81 4.93 5.69 5.19

45 120 5.07 5.03 5.37 5.32

65 45 4.41 4.54 4.47 4.63

65 75 4.48 4.42 4.61 4.49

65 90 4.62 4.40 4.59 4.47

65 105 4.68 4.42 4.71 4.49

65 120 4.53 4.48 4.58 4.55

a

Specimens show partial-surface-contact along the pre-existing ﬂaws.

Table 3

Experimental and theoretical results for the peak strength of specimens containing three ﬂaws and multiple ﬂaws

3-ﬂaw specimen

angle bc (1)

Experimental Theoretical

ﬂaws e0 ¼ 0:015 ef ¼ 0:01

45, 90 90 4.85 4.16 4.89

45, 105 105 4.96 4.19 4.93

45, 120 No 5.22 F F

65 45, 75 75 4.44 3.80 4.42

45, 90 90 4.40 3.78 4.40

45, 105 45 4.67 3.96 4.54

45, 120 45 4.69 3.96 4.54

Experimental Theoretical

e0 ¼ 0:015 ef ¼ 0:01

45, 90 90 5.36 4.34 5.14

45, 105 105 5.00 4.38 5.18

45, 120 45 5.27 4.71 5.53

65 45, 75 75 4.91 3.86 4.49

45, 90 90 4.72 3.84 4.46

45, 105 45 5.02 4.03 4.63

45, 120 No 4.91 F F

a (1) Initial ﬂaws Coalescence Flaws involved in failure pattern Normalized peak strength

angle bc (1) ðs1 OðpcÞ=KIC Þ (m ¼ 0:6Þ

e0 ef

45 42 0.038 75 5 0.0045 6.72 2.84 6.63

R.H.C. Wong et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 38 (2001) 909–924 923

coalescence stress between the pair of ﬂaws is very [14] Horii H, Nemat-Nasser S. Compression-induced microcrack

close (within 5% of each other). growth in brittle solids: axial splitting and shear failure. J

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