Quantitative analysis of the influence of saturation on rock strength reduction considering the distribution of water

  • Diyuan LiEmail author
  • Wenjian Wang
Technical Note


Uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) of rocks usually decreases by the presence of water. It is widely observed that the strength of rock decreases rapidly with increasing water content at low saturation levels, but decreases insignificantly with increasing water content at high saturation levels. In this study, a parameter (critical degree of saturation) is established to separate the two stages. Another parameter (variation of saturation degree per unit length) is established to describe the distribution of water in cylindrical specimen. Based on the two parameters, an analytical solution of normalized UCS of rock with different degrees of saturation is proposed. Using published experimental data, a desired fitting result is obtained. A simplified and conservative form of the analytical solution is proposed for rock engineering. The analytical solution is expected to provide some new insights to understand the weakening effect of rock strength by the presence of water.


Analytical solution Uniaxial compressive strength Water Degree of saturation Strength reduction 

List of symbols

a, b and c

Material constant


Water absorption


Height of cylindrical specimen


Variation of saturation degree per unit length


Radius of cylindrical specimen


Combined parameter


Degree of saturation


Degree of saturation of one element


Critical degree of saturation


Degree of saturation of natural rock


A parameter about the position of incompletely saturated elements


Water content


Distance between one element and the axis of the cylindrical specimen


Uniaxial compressive strength


Uniaxial compressive strength of dry rock


Uniaxial compressive strength of saturated rock


Uniaxial compressive strength of natural rock


Normalized uniaxial compressive strength


Normalized uniaxial compressive strength of one element


Loss proportion of uniaxial compressive strength



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial supports from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51474250), the State Key Research Development Program of China (No. 2016YFC0600706) and Project of Innovation-driven Plan in Central South University (No. 2018CX020).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Resources and Safety EngineeringCentral South UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

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