Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 785–800 | Cite as

Detection of Cracking Levels in Brittle Rocks by Parametric Analysis of the Acoustic Emission Signals

  • Zabihallah Moradian
  • Herbert H. Einstein
  • Gerard Ballivy
Original Paper


Determination of the cracking levels during the crack propagation is one of the key challenges in the field of fracture mechanics of rocks. Acoustic emission (AE) is a technique that has been used to detect cracks as they occur across the specimen. Parametric analysis of AE signals and correlating these parameters (e.g., hits and energy) to stress–strain plots of rocks let us detect cracking levels properly. The number of AE hits is related to the number of cracks, and the AE energy is related to magnitude of the cracking event. For a full understanding of the fracture process in brittle rocks, prismatic specimens of granite containing pre-existing flaws have been tested in uniaxial compression tests, and their cracking process was monitored with both AE and high-speed video imaging. In this paper, the characteristics of the AE parameters and the evolution of cracking sequences are analyzed for every cracking level. Based on micro- and macro-crack damage, a classification of cracking levels is introduced. This classification contains eight stages (1) crack closure, (2) linear elastic deformation, (3) micro-crack initiation (white patch initiation), (4) micro-crack growth (stable crack growth), (5) micro-crack coalescence (macro-crack initiation), (6) macro-crack growth (unstable crack growth), (7) macro-crack coalescence and (8) failure.


Brittle rocks Fracture mechanics Flaw Cracking levels Acoustic emission AE hits AE energy 



The research was supported financially through a Collaborative Research and Development Grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Hydro-Quebec. The authors would also like to thank Université de Sherbrooke for providing the AE equipment.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zabihallah Moradian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Herbert H. Einstein
    • 1
  • Gerard Ballivy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)CambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada

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