Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 49, Issue 7, pp 2689–2700 | Cite as

Shearing of Materials with Intermittent Joints

Original Paper


The strength of fractures is much lower as a rule than that of intact rock. As a result they play a controlling part in the mechanical behaviour in general and the failure in particular of rock mass. Though a large volume of experimental data is available on the shear resistance of joints, as well as on the propagation of single cracks, the same is not true for the mechanical behaviour of intermittent joints. The experimental data available in this case are limited and the strength of rock mass with intermittent joints is usually modelled using averaged values of cohesion or assuming the fractures to be continuous. In the present work, the results of simple shear tests on a series of gypsum specimens with pre-existing cracks are presented. Twelve different crack orientations and two normal stresses were tested. The hypothesis of averaged cohesion and the theory of fracture mechanics are used to reproduce the results. It is found that fracture mechanics provides a more suitable model for the experimental results, especially when crack interaction is taken into account.


Fractured rock Crack interaction Discontinuous rock joints Shear failure 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Bodenmechanik und Felsmechanik (IBF)Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)KarlsruheGermany

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