Evaluation of an Ultrasonic Method for Damage Characterization of Brittle Rocks

  • Deepanshu ShiroleEmail author
  • Ahmadreza Hedayat
  • Ehsan Ghazanfari
  • Gabriel Walton
Original Paper


An intact rock specimen, when subjected to uniaxial compression, experiences multiple stages of deformation. This begins with the nucleation of microcracks at low stresses (crack initiation—CI) and their subsequent transition into unstable crack propagation (crack damage—CD) close to the ultimate strength. In the present study, an active ultrasonic monitoring method was used during uniaxial compression testing of Lyons sandstone specimens to evaluate the potential of the technique for damage characterization. The sensitivity of ultrasonic monitoring in relation to the input excitation frequency was also analyzed using four ultrasonic transducers with different central frequencies. A LabVIEW-controlled active ultrasonic system was used to acquire active seismic waveforms, which were made to propagate perpendicular to the direction of uniaxial stress. With increasing deformation, the corresponding changes in amplitude, frequency, and velocity of the active seismic signals were analyzed to characterize the CI and CD stress thresholds. Using statistical analysis, it was concluded that the changes in the amplitude and frequency of the active signals could be potential indicators of CI and CD. The comparison of wave characteristics corresponding to different input excitations also indicated that appropriate selection of transducer frequency is crucial for a representative interpretation of damage processes.


Crack initiation Crack damage Brittle rock Ultrasonic Amplitude Frequency 



Acoustic emissions


Analysis of variance


Crack damage


Circumferential extensometer


Crack initiation


Crack initiation calculated from circumferential extensometer


Crack initiation calculated from strain gauge


Computed tomography


Displacement discontinuity


Fast Fourier transform


Lateral strain response


Linear variable differential transformer


National instrument


Seismic crack damage


Seismic crack damage calculated from amplitude


Seismic crack damage calculated from frequency


Seismic crack damage calculated from velocity


Seismic crack initiation


Seismic crack initiation calculated from amplitude


Seismic crack initiation calculated from frequency


Seismic crack initiation calculated from velocity


Strain gauge


Uniaxial compressive strength








Characteristic frequency



The authors would like to thank Mr. Amin Gheibi for assisting in performing the laboratory experiments. The support provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1644326 is greatly appreciated. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.College of Engineering and Mathematical SciencesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Geological EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA

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