Experimental investigation on damage evolution behaviour of a granitic rock under loading and unloading

Research paper by Bing Dai, Guo-yan Zhao; H. Konietzky; P. L. P. Wasantha

Indexed on: 10 Jun '18Published on: 01 May '18Published in: Journal of Central South University


In-situ rock failures can result from stress changes due to pure loading and/or unloading. Understanding of the damage evolution behavior in brittle rocks during loading and unloading is imperative for the designs of rock structures. In this paper, we investigate the damage evolution characteristics of a granitic rock during loading and unloading after a series of triaxial experiments performed at different confining pressures. The axial stress—axial strain variations of the tested specimens revealed that the specimens undergoing unloading fail with a lower axial strain compared to the specimens failed purely by loading. Higher confining pressures were observed to exacerbate the difference. Volumetric strain versus axial strain curves indicated that the curves reverse the trend with the beginning of major damage of specimens. We suggest here a new form of equation to describe the secant modulus variation of brittle rocks against the axial stress for the unloading process. Failure mechanisms of tested specimens showed two distinct patterns, namely, specimens under pure loading failed with a single distinct shear fracture while for the unloading case specimens displayed multiple intersecting fractures. In addition, analysis of the evolution of dissipation and elastic energy during deformation of the specimens under loading and unloading conditions showed differentiable characteristics. Moreover, we evaluated the variations of two damage indices defined based on the energy dissipation and secant modulus evolution during deformation and observed that both of them satisfactorily distinguish key stages of damage evolution.