pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 163, Issue 5–6, pp 1153–1174 | Cite as

Comparison of Numerical and Physical Models for Understanding Shear Fracture Processes

  • John NapierEmail author
  • Tobias Backers


An understanding of the formation of shear fractures is important in many rock engineering design problems. Laboratory experiments have been performed to determine the Mode II fracture toughness of Mizunami granite rock samples using a cylindrical `punch-through' testing device. In this paper we attempt to understand and interpret the experimental results by numerical simulation of the fundamental shear fracture initiation and coalescence processes, using a random array of displacement discontinuity crack elements. It is found that qualitative agreement between the experimental and numerical results can be established, provided that shear-like micro-scale failure processes can be accommodated by the failure initiation rules that are used in the numerical simulations. In particular, it is found that the use of an exclusively tension-driven failure initiation rule does not allow the formation of macro-shear structures. It is apparent, also, that further investigation is required to determine how consistent rules can be established to link micro-failure criteria to equivalent macro-strength and toughness properties for a macro-shear slip surface.


Fracturing numerical modelling Punch-Through Shear test Mode II 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computational and Applied MathematicsUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.GeoFrames GmbHPotsdamGermany

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