Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 12, pp 4483–4499 | Cite as

The Tribological Behavior of Two Potential-Landslide Saprolitic Rocks

  • C. S. Sandeep
  • K. SenetakisEmail author


We investigate in this study the tribological behavior of two potential-landslide saprolites conducting grain-scale experiments with an advanced custom-built micro-mechanical loading apparatus. A lateritic rock from India and a completely decomposed granite from Hong Kong were used. These geological materials have been subjected to decomposition and disintegration due to weathering. The characterization of the materials at the grain scale was conducted based on energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis, scanning electron microscope images, and interferometry analysis. Both materials showed high roughness values and their surface-morphological characteristics were relatively inconsistent. Repeated micro-mechanical shearing tests were conducted on pairs of grains, and their normal load—deflection, tangential load—deflection, tangential stiffness, and frictional responses were explored with a focus on the effect of repeating the shearing tests following the same shearing paths. It was shown that the behavior was markedly different, between shearing the grains at lower and greater normal loads; in the latter case the production of debris slightly increased the friction, but it substantially increased the tangential stiffness. These observations were also linked to the changes of the normal load—deflection behavior of surfaces subjected to pre-shearing. These findings are important in the fundamental understanding of the behavior of geological materials interfaces as well as the discrete modeling of natural and engineering problems. Digital microscopic images were also implemented to further support the observations from the study.


Micro-mechanics tribology friction stiffness weathered rock roughness 



This research work was fully supported by the grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Project No. T22-603/15 N (CityU 8779012) and Project No. 9042491 (CityU 11206617). The authors would like to thank Mr S.K. Yamsani for providing the Indian saprolite tested in the study.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and Civil EngineeringCity University of Hong KongKowloonChina

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