Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 493–505 | Cite as

The Effect of Varying Damage History in Crystalline Rocks on the P- and S-Wave Velocity under Hydrostatic Confining Pressure

  • O. O. Blake
  • D. R. Faulkner
  • A. Rietbrock


Cracks play a very important role in many geotechnical issues and in a number of processes in the Earth’s crust. Elastic waves can be used as a remote sensing tool for determining crack density. The effect of varying crack density in crystalline rock on the P- and S-wave velocity and dynamic elastic properties under confining pressure has been quantified. The evolution of P- and S-wave velocity were monitored as a suite of dry Westerly granite samples were taken to 60, 70, 80 and 90 % of the unconfined uniaxial strength of the sample. The damaged samples were then subjected to hydrostatic confining pressure from 2 MPa to 200 MPa to quantify the effect of varying crack density on the P- and S-wave velocity and elastic properties under confining pressure. The opening and propagation of microcracks predominantly parallel to the loading direction during uniaxial loading caused a 0.5 and 6.3 % decrease in the P- and S-wave velocity, respectively. During hydrostatic loading, microcracks are closed at 130 MPa confining pressure. At lower pressures the amount of crack damage in the samples has a small but measureable effect. We observed a systematic 6 and 4 % reduction in P- and S-wave velocity, respectively, due to an increase in the fracture density at 2 MPa confining pressure. The overall reduction in the P- and S-wave velocity decreased to 2 and 1 %, respectively, at 50 MPa. The elastic wave velocities of samples that have a greater amount of microcrack damage are more sensitive to pressure. Effective medium modelling was used to invert elastic wave velocities and infer crack density evolution. Comparing the crack density results with experimental data on Westerly granite samples shows that the effective medium modelling used gave interpretable and reasonable results. Changes in crack density can be interpreted as closure or opening of cracks and crack growth.


Crack Density Elastic Wave Velocity Hydrostatic Loading Microcrack Density Westerly Granite 
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© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geology and GeophysicsSchool of Environmental Sciences, University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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