Experimental Study on Shear Behavior of a Rock Discontinuity Under Various Thermal, Hydraulic and Mechanical Conditions

  • Taehyun Kim
  • Seokwon JeonEmail author
Original Paper


Discontinuities in rock mass behave as weak planes, and it is crucial to understand their behavior when assessing the stability of underground structures. Shear characteristics of discontinuities are usually affected by the interaction among overburden stress, tectonic stresses, water pressure by groundwater level and temperature at depth. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the variation of the frictional properties of rock discontinuities at different conditions. In this study, a series of shear tests were carried out for three types of rocks (Daejeon granite, Goheung diorite, and Linyi sandstone) having a saw-cut surface to investigate the shear characteristics of a rock discontinuity under various thermal-hydro-mechanical conditions in a triaxial compression chamber. In addition to the tests on saw-cut specimens, the effect of surface roughness on shear characteristics was examined. Cement mortar was used to reproduce identical rough discontinuities having JRC values of 2 and 12. The testing conditions were determined considering in situ conditions at the vicinity of underground opening such as radioactive waste disposal facilities, enhanced geothermal systems, and oil reservoirs. The experimental results were analyzed based on Coulomb’s and Patton’s failure criterion. It was observed that the shear characteristics of rock discontinuities were sensitive to confining and water pressure but not to a temperature below 80 °C. XRD analysis and SEM observation were performed to identify the mechanism responsible for the change of friction angle. Clay minerals having a layer lattice structure that results in weakening of the bonding of minerals may have reduced the friction angle.


Shear tests Friction angle T–H–M-coupled process Triaxial compression chamber 



This study was funded by the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Korea (Project no.: 13CCTI-T01), and was also supported by the Basic Research Project of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), which was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Korea. The Institute of Engineering Research at Seoul National University (SNU) provided research facilities for this work.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geologic Environment DivisionKorea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM)DaejeonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Energy Systems EngineeringSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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