Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 52, Issue 11, pp 4821–4833 | Cite as

On the Residual Strength of Rocks and Rockmasses

  • G. WaltonEmail author
  • D. Labrie
  • L. R. Alejano
Technical Note


The design and construction of structures in rock depend heavily on knowledge of rock strength and deformation characteristics (Cai et al. 2007). A commonly adopted method for assessing these characteristics is to utilize standard laboratory tests, including triaxial compression tests (ASTM 2015). Since the development of stiff servo-controlled testing machines and procedures in the 1960s and 1970s (see, for example, Cook 1965; Rummel and Fairhurst 1970; Wawersik and Brace 1971; Hudson et al. 1971), such tests have been capable of maintaining stability beyond peak strength and recording post-peak material parameters (Brady and Brown 1985).

Generally speaking, the stress–strain behaviour of rocks as observed in compression tests can be separated into four phases: (1) pre-yield, where behaviour is approximately elastic; (2) post-yield but pre-peak, where short term frictional strengthening effects lead to an artificial strain-hardening behaviour; (3) post-peak weakening,...


Residual strength Rock friction Triaxial testing 



The authors would like to acknowledge Luke Weidner for proofreading a version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

G Walton declares that he has no conflict of interest. D. Labrie declares that he has no conflict of interest. L. Alejano declares that he has no conflict of interest.


  1. Alejano LR, Rodríguez-Dono A, Alonso E, Fdez-Manín G (2009) Ground reaction curves for tunnels excavated in different quality rock masses showing several types of post-failure behavior. Tunn Undergr Space Tech 24:689–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alejano LR, Arzúa J, Bozorgzadeh N, Harrison JP (2017) Triaxial strength and deformability of intact and increasingly jointed granite samples. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 95:87–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthur JRF, Dunstan T, Al-Ani QAJ, Assadi A (1977) Plastic deformation and failure in granular media. Géotechnique 27:53–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arzúa J, Alejano LR (2013) Dilation in granite during servo-controlled triaxial strength tests. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 61(1):43–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ASTM (2015) D7012 Standard Test Method for Compressive strength and elastic moduli of intact rock core specimens under varying states of stress and temperatures. ASTM International, West Conshohocken (USA), p 9Google Scholar
  6. Barton N (1973) Review of a new shear-strength criterion for rock joints. Eng Geol 7(4):287–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barton N (1976) The shear strength of rock and rock joints. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 13(9):255–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bésuelle P, Desrues J, Raynaud S (2000) Experimental characterisation of the localisation phenomenon inside a Vosges sandstone in a triaxial cell. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 37:1223–1237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyd DL, Trainor-Guitton W, Walton G (2018) Assessment of rock unit variability through use of spatial variograms. Eng Geol 233:200–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brace WF (1963) A note on brittle crack growth in compression. J Geophys Res 68:3709–3713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brady BHG, Brown ET (1985) Rock strength and deformability. Rock mechanics for underground mining. George Allen & Unwin, London (UK), pp 86–134Google Scholar
  12. Byerlee J (1978) Friction of rocks. Pure Appl Geophys 116(4–5):615–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cai M, Kaiser PK, Tasaka Y, Minami M (2007) Determination of residual strength parameters of jointed rock masses using the GSI system. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 44(2):247–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cook NG (1965) The failure of rock. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 2(4):389–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crowder JJ, Bawden WF (2004) Review of post-peak parameters and behaviour of rock masses: current trends and research. RocnewsGoogle Scholar
  16. Diederichs MS (2003) Manuel Rocha medal recipient rock fracture and collapse under low confinement conditions. Rock Mech Rock Eng 36(5):339–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gao FQ, Kang HP (2016) Effects of pre-existing discontinuities on the residual strength of rock mass—insight from a discrete element method simulation. J Struct Geol 85:40–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gowd TN, Rummel F (1980) Effect of confining pressure on the fracture behaviour of a porous rock. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 17(4):225–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hobbs DW (1966) A study of the behaviour of a broken rock under triaxial compression, and its application to mine roadways. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 3(1):11–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoek E, Brown ET (1980) Empirical strength criterion for rock masses. J Geotech Geoenviron EngGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoek E, Carranza-Torres C, Corkum B (2002) Hoek-Brown failure criterion-2002 edition. Proc NARMS-Tac 1:267–273Google Scholar
  22. Hudson JA, Brown ET, Fairhurst C (1971) Shape of the complete stress–strain curve for rock. In: Proceedings of the 13th symposium on rock mechanics. University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  23. Jaeger JC (1969) Behavior of closely jointed rock. In: The 11th US Symposium on Rock Mechanics (USRMS). American Rock Mechanics AssociationGoogle Scholar
  24. Kemeny JM, Cook NGW (1987) Crack models for the failure of rocks in compression. Constitutive laws for engineering materials: theory and applications, vol II. Elsevier, New York, pp 879–887Google Scholar
  25. Kovari K, Tisa A (1975) Multiple failure state and strain controlled triaxial tests. Rock Mech 7(1):17–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kumar R, Sharma KG, Varadarajan A (2010) Post-peak response of some metamorphic rocks of India under high confining pressures. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 47(8):1357–1362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Labrie D (2017) Frictional properties of rocks as a function of rock type, specimen size and confining pressure. In: The 51st US Rock Mechanics Symposium. American Rock Mechanics AssociationGoogle Scholar
  28. Labrie D, Conlon B (2008) Hydraulic and poroelastic properties of porous rocks and concrete materials. In: The 42nd US rock mechanics symposium (USRMS). American Rock Mechanics AssociationGoogle Scholar
  29. Li C, Nordlund E (1993) Deformation of brittle rocks under compression—with particular reference to microcracks. Mech Mater 15:223–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li X, Konietzky H, Li X, Wang Y (2018) Failure pattern of brittle rock governed by initial microcrack characteristics. Acta Geotechnica. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Martin CD (1997) Seventeenth Canadian geotechnical colloquium: the effect of cohesion loss and stress path on brittle rock strength. Can Geotech J 34(5):698–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Masoumi H (2013) Investigation into the Mechanical Behaviour of Intact Rock at Different Sizes. In: Ph.D. Thesis. University of New South Wales: Sydney, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  33. Niu S, Jing H, Hu K, Yang D (2010) Numerical investigation on the sensitivity of jointed rock mass strength to various factors. Min Sci Technol 20(4):530–534Google Scholar
  34. Ord A, Hobbs B, Regenauer-Lieb K (2007) Shear band emergence in granular materials, a numerical study. Int J Numer Anal Methods Geomech 31:373–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Peng J, Cai M, Rong G, Yao M-D, Jiang Q-H, Zhou C-B (2017) Determination of confinement and plastic strain dependent post-peak strength of intact rocks. Eng Geol 218:187–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rosengren KJ (1968) Rock mechanics of the Black Star open cut, Mount Isa. Ph.D. Thesis. The Australian National University: Canberra, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  37. Roshan H, Masoumi H, Regenauer-Lieb K (2017) Frictional behaviour of sandstone: a sample-size dependent triaxial investigation. J Struct Geol 94:154–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rummel F, Fairhurst C (1970) Determination of the post-failure behavior of brittle rock using a servo-controlled testing machine. Rock Mech 2(4):189–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sulem J, Ouffroukh H (2006) Hydromechanical behaviour of fontainebleau sandstone. Rock Mech Rock Eng 39:185–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vardoulakis I (1980) Shear band inclination and shear modulus of sand in biaxial tests. Int J Numer Anal Methods Geomech 4:103–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vermeer PA, De Borst R (1984) Non-associated plasticity for soils, concrete and rock. Heron 29:1–64Google Scholar
  42. Walton G (2017) Scale effects observed in compression testing of Stanstead granite including post-peak strength and dilatancy. Geotech Geol Eng 36:1091–1111Google Scholar
  43. Walton G, Diederichs MS (2015) A new model for the dilation of brittle rocks based on laboratory compression test data with separate treatment of dilatancy mobilization and decay. Geotech Geol Eng 33(3):661–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Walton G, Arzua J, Alejano LR, Diederichs MS (2015) A laboratory-testing-based study on the strength, deformability, and dilatancy of carbonate rocks at low confinement. Rock Mech Rock Eng 48(3):941–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walton G, Hedayat A, Kim E, Labrie D (2017) Post-yield strength and dilatancy evolution across the brittle-ductile transition in indiana limestone. Rock Mech Rock Eng 50(7):1691–1710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wawersik WR, Brace WF (1971) Post-failure behavior of a granite and diabase. Rock Mech 3(2):61–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yang SQ, Jing HW, Wang SY (2012) Experimental investigation on the strength, deformability, failure behavior and acoustic emission locations of red sandstone under triaxial compression. Rock Mech Rock Eng 45(4):583–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resources CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.University of VigoVigoSpain

Personalised recommendations