Effects of Scale and Normal Stress on Shear Behavior of a Soft Fracture Replica

A. A. Giwelli, A. Gumati, K. Sakaguchi, K. Matsuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of the fracture scale (size) and normal stress on the shear behavior of a fracture were investigated in direct shear rig using mortar fracture replicas of different sizes (100-200 mm), which were reproduced from a tensile fracture created in granite. Monotonic shear loading was applied at normal stresses of 0.3 and 1 MPa for shear displacements of 2 and 20 mm. The change in surface topography was measured by using a profile measurement system with a laser profilometer to determine the changes in surface damage and the aperture during shear. Additionally, the effect of gouge material on the non-linearity of the closure curve during shear was investigated. The results show that the standard deviation of the initial aperture during shear increases not only with scale but also with the normal stress, since the matedness decreases due to the fact that asperities are more damaged with normal stress, and accordingly, the non-linearity in the closure curve during shear increases with normal stress. The results also show that the non-linearity of the closure curve during shear increases with the presence of gouge material/debris that is produced in the shearing process. This is mainly because gouge is soft and easily deforms under the application of normal stress. Moreover, gouge material is distributed non-uniformly around the contact areas. Thus, the normal stiffness during shear decreases not only with a decrease in the matedness between the surfaces, but also with the presence of gouge material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-686
Number of pages14
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun


  • Aperture
  • Closure
  • Fracture size
  • Gouge material
  • Mortar replica
  • Normal and shear stresses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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