Failure Mode and Spatial Distribution of Damage in Rothbach Sandstone in the Brittle-ductile Transition
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— To elucidate the spatial complexity of damage and evolution of localized failure in the transitional regime from brittle faulting to cataclastic ductile flow in a porous sandstone, we performed a series of triaxial compression experiments on Rothbach sandstone (20% porosity). Quantitative microstructural analysis and X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging were conducted on deformed samples. Localized failure was observed in samples at effective pressures ranging from 5 MPa to 130 MPa. In the brittle faulting regime, dilating shear bands were observed. The CT images and stereological measurements reveal the geometric complexity and spatial heterogeneity of damage in the failed samples. In the transitional regime (at effective pressures between 45 MPa and 130 MPa), compacting shear bands at high angles and compaction bands perpendicular to the maximum compression direction were observed. The laboratory results suggest that these complex localized features can be pervasive in sandstone formations, not just limited to the very porous aeolian sandstone in which they were first documented. The microstructural observations are in qualitative agreement with theoretical predictions of bifurcation analyses, except for the occurrence of compaction bands in the sample deformed at effective pressure of 130 MPa. The bifurcation analysis with the constitutive model used in this paper is nonadequate to predict compaction band formation, may be due to the neglect of bedding anisotropy of the rock and multiple yield mechanisms in the constitutive model.
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