Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 167, Issue 12, pp 1511–1523 | Cite as

Damage and Changes in Mechanical Properties of a Gabbro Thermally Loaded up to 1,000°C

  • M. Keshavarz
  • F. L. PelletEmail author
  • B. Loret


Thermal loading of rocks at high temperatures induces changes in their mechanical properties. In this study, a hard gabbro was tested in the laboratory. Specimens were slowly heated to a maximum temperature of 1,000°C. Subsequent to the thermal loading, specimens were subjected to uniaxial compression. A drastic decrease of both unconfined compressive strength and elastic moduli was observed. The thermal damage of the rock was also highlighted by measuring elastic wave velocities and by monitoring acoustic emissions during testing. The micromechanisms of rock degradation were investigated by analysis of thin sections after each stage of thermal loading. It was found that there is a critical temperature above which drastic changes in mechanical properties occur. Indeed, below a temperature of 600°C, microcracks start developing due to a difference in the thermal expansion coefficients of the crystals. At higher temperatures (above 600°C), oxidation of Fe2+ and Mg2+, as well as bursting of fluid inclusions, are the principal causes of damage. Such mechanical degradation may have dramatic consequences for many geoengineering structures.


Thermal damage acoustic emission elastic wave velocity microcrack propagation thermal expansion oxidation fluid inclusion 



We would like to thank Drs. M.K. Jafari and K. Amini Hosseini from the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology of Tehran for helpful comments on an initial draft of this manuscript. We would also like to thank Dr. A.M. Boullier from the Observatory of Earth and Planetary Sciences of Grenoble for assistance with microscopic investigations.


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© Birkhäuser / Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory Soils Solids Structures and RisksUniversity of GrenobleGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.INSA - Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of LyonVilleurbanneFrance

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