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Harmonising Rock Engineering and the Environment Qian & Zhou (eds)

2012 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-80444-8

Shear behavior of rock under different normal stiffness
A.K. Shrivastava
Department of Civil Engineering, Delhi Technological University, Delhi, India
K.S. Rao & Ganesh W. Rathod
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India
ABSTRACT: The shear behavior of rock joints greatly influence by the presence of asperity and the normal stiffness of the
surrounding rock mass. Correct evaluation of the shear strength of rock joints plays an important role in the design of deep
underground openings, stability analysis of rock slopes, socketed piles in rock and anchored rock slopes. To study influence
of normal stiffness of the surrounding rock mass on the shear behavior of non planar rock joints, tests were performed on
an automated servo controlled large scale direct shear testing machine, which has been designed and developed at IIT Delhi
(Rao et al. 2009a). Tests can be conducted on equipment to study the effect of joint roughness, scale effects, stiffness of the
surrounding rock, shear rate, condition of the joint i.e. unfilled joint/in filled joint, infill type and infill thickness affecting
the shear behaviour of rock joint. Influence of some of these parameters on shear strength of jointed rock has been studied
by different researchers such as Patton (1966), Ladanyi & Archambault (1970), Barton (1973) and Indrartna & Haque (1998,
1999). Extensive tests were conducted on non planar rock joints of asperity angle of 15


of 5 mm thickness at different
normal stiffness and presented the test results.
Subject: Rock material and rock mass property testing (laboratory and in situ)
Keywords: lab testing, physical modeling, rock joints, rock mass
Rocks are heterogeneous and quite often discontinuous due to
presence of joints. The presence of joints, fractures and other
planes of weakness reduce the shear strength.
Shear strength of rock joints depends on many factors
such as (a) stiffness of the surrounding rock mass (b) shear
rate (c) joint roughness (d) size of joint i.e. scale effect and
(e) joint condition i.e. unfilled joint/in filled joint. The correct
evaluation of shear strength of rock joints plays an important
role in the design of excavations in rocks, stability analysis of
rock slopes and design of rock socketed piles. In the past var-
ious attempts have been made to determine the shear strength
of rock joint simulating most of the influencing parameters in
the laboratory. However, very fewresearchers have considered
the influence of boundary conditions. The shear behavior of
the rock joints can be investigated under two different bound-
ary conditions i.e. constant normal load (CNL) i.e. K=0 and
constant normal stiffness (CNS) i.e. K>0.
The shear behaviour of planar rockjoints canbe investigated
inthe laboratorybyusinga conventional direct shear apparatus
where the normal load is kept constant (K=0) during the
shearing process. This particular mode of shearing is suitable
for situations where the surrounding rock freely allows the
joint to shear without restricting the dilation, thereby keeping
normal load constant during shearing process. Shear testing
under a CNL boundary condition is only beneficial for cases
such as non-reinforced rock slopes.
However, for non planar discontinuities, shearing results
in dilation as one asperity overrides another, and if the sur-
rounding rock mass is unable to deform sufficiently, then an
inevitable increase in the normal stress occurs during shearing.
Therefore, shearing of rough joints under such circumstances
no longer takes place under CNL, but rather under variable
normal load where stiffness of the surrounding rock mass
plays an important role in the shear behaviour. This particular
mode of shearing is called as shearing under CNS bound-
ary conditions i.e. K>0. For underground openings or rock
anchor-reinforced slopes, shear tests under K=0 conditions
are not appropriate. A more representative behaviour of joints
would be achieved if the shear tests are carried out under
boundary conditions of K>0.
The models available in the literature fail to appropriately
determine shear behavior of rock either due to limitations of
boundary condition or they are very simple like Patton (1966),
or depend on empiricism like JRC models given by Barton
(1973), or require estimation of complex input parameter like
Ladanyi and Archambault (1970). However, Indrartna et al.,
(1998, 1999&2003) andJianget al., (2004) attemptedtostudy
shear behavior of non planar joints under different normal
stiffness conditions i.e. CNL or CNS. But the special equip-
ments developed by the researcher has some limitation either
due to difficulty in putting the springs of required stiffness
between the load cell and the sample or to change the set of
the springs according to the normal stiffness of the surround-
ing rock like Indrartna et al., (1998, 1999 & 2003), Johnston
et al. (1987). The studies under K>0 conditions is available
mostly on small scale samples where asperities are triangu-
lar with equal angles for both the sides and roughness having
some JRC value.
In the present study, a detailed testing is carried out on
modeled rock joints of the asperity 15


on the spe-
cially designed direct shear testing machine by Rao et al.,
(2009a). This is capable of conducting tests on large prismatic
specimens through friction free rigid platens under bound-
ary conditions having different normal stiffness. Tests were
Figure 1. (a) Photograph of large scale direct shear apparatus.
(b) Schematic diagram of large scale direct shear apparatus.
conducted on normal stiffness 0, 8, 16 and 32 kN per mm.
The boundary normal stiffness, shearing rate and stress/strain
controlled mode can be selected and feed before the test of
the specimen in the computer according to the simulated field
An automated servo controlled large scale direct shear test-
ing machine on rock consists of three main units such as
loading unit, hydraulic power pack with servo valve and data
acquisition and controlling unit as shown in Figures 1a, b.
In this apparatus the normal and shear loads are applied
Figure 2. Working of electro hydraulic servo valve with controller.
through an electro hydraulic servo actuator unit of maximum
capacity 500 kN and 1000 kN respectively with the load accu-
racy 0.5%of full load capacity, which works on closed loop
The displacements are measured by LVDTs mounted on
the specimen. Four LVDTs are used to measure the nor-
mal displacement and provide a check on specimen rotation
about an axis parallel to the shear zone and perpendicular to
the shearing direction. Degree of joint closure and dilation
angle can also be obtained from these measurements. Two
LVDTs are used to measure the shear displacement. These
displacement devices have adequate ranges of travel to accom-
modate the displacements, 20 mm. Sensitivities of these
devices are 0.001 mmfor both normal displacement and shear
The data acquisition systemhas 16 channels, 2 channels for
load cell, 6 channels for LVDTs and remaining 8 channels are
free for additional input. The data acquisition system converts
the mechanical and electrical signals in to the digital data. The
output of signal is connected to CPU via cord. The load and
deformation values are stored at desired intervals as note pad
data. Suitable software is developed to process and plot the
test data.
The CNS conditions are reproduced by an electro hydraulic
servo-valve which applies the programmed force to the test
specimen (Fig. 2). The programmed force keeps changing
depending upon the stiffness of the surrounding rock joint
entered as an input data in the specially designed software
and the dilation and horizontal displacement data collected
through sixteen channel data acquisition system.
The increased load during the progress of testing is calcu-
lated by the following equation:
=Normal stress at any time interval t+t
=Normal stress at any time interval t
=Stiffness of the surrounding rock mass
Y=Dilation resisted by the surrounding rock mass
Figure 3. Photograph of sample with asperity angle 15


At any time t +t the increased load is calculated from
equation 1, updated in the software and applied to the sample.
The normal stiffness under which shearing takes place can
easily be obtained by changing the normal stiffness in the
input data of direct shear software.
It is difficult to conduct direct shear test on natural rock mass
because of difficulty in repeatability of the sample. To over-
come this, physical model of rock sample with different joint
asperities were prepared in plaster of Paris. Plaster of Paris is
selected because of its universal availability, ability to mould
into any shape when mix with water and easy to produce the
desired asperity. The basic properties of the model material at
60% of the moisture by weight and 14 days air curing is deter-
mined by performing the test on 38 mm diameter and 76 mm
height sample. The average uniaxial compressive strength and
tangent modulus, E
of the air cured samples are 11.75 MPa
and 2281 MPa respectively. Based on Deere-Miller (1966)
classification the rock model is classified as EL category.
Suitable steel plates of angles 15


, designed and fab-

ricated to produce asperity in the sample. The plaster of Paris
with60%of the moisture is mixedinthe mixingtankfor 2min-
utes and then the material is poured in the casting mould which
is placedonthe vibratingtable. Vibrations are giventothe sam-
ple for a period of 1 minute and then sample is removed from
the mould after 45 minutes and kept for air curing for 14 days
before testing. Figure 3 shows the air cured sample with 15


asperity. The size of the sample prepared for the testing is

299 mm299 mm and the thickness of sample is 125 mm.
To study the effect of normal stiffness on the shear behav-
ior of the rock joints the extensive tests were planned and
conducted under different boundary conditions for 15


asperity. The initial normal stress (P

) of 0.1, 0.51, 1.02 and
2.04 MPa is applied for each set of test. The normal stiffness
of the surrounding rock joints is set to be 0, 8, 16 and 32 kN
per mm for each set of the test and rate of shearing is main-
tained as 0.5 mm per min during the test, if the shearing rate
is more than this the effect of the increase in the shearing rate
is to increase the peak shear stress for the same initial nor-
mal stress (Rao et al. 2009b). The test results are described as
3.1 Effect of normal stiffness on shear behavior of the Joint
Increase in the initial normal stress causes increase in the
peak shear stress for 15

asperity joint under all normal
Figure 4. Shear behavior of 15


asperity joint under normal

stiffness (a) K=0 (b) K=8 kN per mm.
Figure 5. Strength envelope for K=0, 8, 16 and 32 kN per mm.
stiffness duringtesting. Figure 4(a) and(b) shows the variation
of shear stress with shear displacement when K=0 and 8 kN
per mm respectively. Increase in the normal stiffness causes
increase in the normal stress (eq1) on the shearing plane for
the given initial normal stress, which results into increase in
peak shear stress.
To find probable strength envelope stress path is plotted
between peak shear stress and initial normal stress for different
normal stiffness conditions (Fig. 5). The strength envelope is
curvilinear for all the normal stiffness and curvature is same
upto low normal stress i.e normal stress less than 0.10 times
the uniaxial compressive strength of the sample (
) and after
that the curvature of the strength envelope is changed, except
at K=0. For K=0 case free dilation of sample is allowed and
hence there is no increase in the normal stress on the shearing
plane and curvature of the strength envelope is same through
out the range of testing in this study.
Figure 6. Variation of normal stress for k =0 and 32 kN per mm.
Figure 7. Failure mechanism for K=16 kN per mm.
Increase in the normal stiffness causes increase in the nor-
mal stress on the shearing plane. Which may results into
crushing of the asperity and asperity start behaving like planar
joint. A drop in the peak shear stress is observed between nor-
mal stress of 0.05
to 0.1
and at about 0.2
the peak shear
stress is almost same for all the normal stiffness. The sheared
sample at initial normal stress about 0.2
shows complete
shearing of the asperity. On fewoccasion it is also observed the
shearing peneterates beyond the asperity height i.e. 5 mm. The
sheared material of the upper half of the sample is deposited
on the lower half.
The effect of the normal stiffness on the normal stress dur-
ing the shearing process is shown in the Figure 6. It has been
observed that the variation of the normal stress exactly fol-
lows the profile of the asperity for all the normal stiffness
conditions except K=0. The normal stress is maximum at a
shear displacemnet of about 18.67 mm where the asperity is
having the peak after and before that the normal stress was less
and it was minimum at shaer dispalcemnt of 0 and 37.34 mm.
Which is follwing the profile of traingular asperity, for K=0
conditions the normal stress is constant during the shearing
process. Similar observations are made by Shrivastava & Rao
(2010) while testing 30


Figure 7 shows the failure mechanism under different nor-
mal stiffness, for which change in shear stress with normal
stress is plotted. The test results indicate that at low initial
normal stress the peak shear stress is achieved at some nor-
mal stress and then the increase in the normal stress does not
cause much change in the shear stress. But with increasing ini-
tial normal stress the shear stress of the joint decreases rapidly
after attaining the peak shear stress with the increase in nor-
mal stress. But for all the cases shear strength of the joint
increases with increase in the normal stress. It means at low
initial normal stress, stress paths well prorogates along the
strength envelope but with increase in initial normal stress,
stress path do not propagate along the strength envelop, it just
Figure 8. Failure mechanism for K=0 kN per mm.
reaches a peak and then shear stress drops. The above phenom-
ena is observed for all the normal stiffness conditions except
K=0, where as for K=0, the shear stress is increasing under
constant normal stress and reaches the peak value. After that
shear stress remain constant as shown in Figure 8.
Several tests are performed on the modeled rock sample with
asperity 15

at K=0, 8, 16 and 32 kN per mm to study
the influence of normal stiffness on the shear behavior. The
conclusions made fromthe test results are summarized below:
i. Increase in the normal stiffness increases the normal
stresses on the shearing plane during the shearing pro-
cess and hence increase in the peak shear stress for the
same initial normal stress.
ii. Curvilinear strength variation is observed for all the nor-
mal stiffness conditions with a break in the curvature
between Pi =0.05
to 0.1
. The change in the slope
of the strength envelop indicates that the complete shear-
ing of the asperity at that normal stress and sliding of
samples takes place after that normal stress.
iii. At K=0boundaryconditionnormal stress is constant dur-
ing the shearing process where as it is varying for K=8,
16 and 32 kN per mm boundary conditions and the vari-
ation of normal stress exactly follows the shape of the
asperity, which is in present case a isosceles triangle with
angle 15

and height of asperity 5 mm.

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