Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, 40:145

Digital Image Based Approach for Three-Dimensional Mechanical Analysis of Heterogeneous Rocks


  • S. Chen
    • Department of Civil EngineeringThe University of Hong Kong
  • Z. Q. Yue
    • Department of Civil EngineeringThe University of Hong Kong
  • L. G. Tham
    • Department of Civil EngineeringThe University of Hong Kong

DOI: 10.1007/s00603-006-0105-8

Cite this article as:
Chen, S., Yue, Z. & Tham, L. Rock Mech. Rock Engng. (2007) 40: 145. doi:10.1007/s00603-006-0105-8


This paper presents a digital image based approach for three-dimensional (3-D) numerical simulation and failure analysis of rocks by taking into account the actual 3-D heterogeneity. Digital image techniques are adopted to extract two-dimensional (2-D) material heterogeneity from material surface images. The 2-D image mesostructures are further extrapolated to 3-D cuboid mesostructures by assuming the material surface as a representation of the inner material heterogeneity within a very small depth. The iterative milling and scanning system is set up to generate the 3-D rock mesostructures. A Hong Kong granite specimen is used as an example to demonstrate the procedure of 3-D mesostructure establishment. The mechanical responses and failure process under the conventional Brazilian tensile test condition are examined through numerical analyses. The stress distribution, crack propagation process and failure model of heterogeneous material cases are simulated with a finite difference software. The numerical results indicate that material heterogeneity plays an important role in determining the failure behavior of rocks under external loading.

Keywords: Heterogeneous materials, rock, digital image processing, numerical simulation, finite difference method, and failure prediction.

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© Springer-Verlag 2006