Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment

, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 1639–1647 | Cite as

An experimental study of the mechanical characteristics of fractured loess in western China

  • Ping SunEmail author
  • Jianbing Peng
  • Liwei Chen
  • Quanzhong Lu
  • Ogbonnaya Igwe
Original Paper


Microstructural changes in the loess deposits due to the presence of joint planes is one of the primary causes of the geohazards (ground fissures, ground subsidence, landslides, collapses, and soil and water losses) that occur in the loess regions of western China. By means of uniaxial tensile tests and triaxial shear tests conducted under different confining pressures, we tested fractured loess Q2 samples with five fracture plane inclination angles (0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90°) taken from Sanyuan County, Shaanxi Province in western China, where geohazards are prevalent. Analysis of the tensile stress–strain and shear stress–strain relationships of the fractured loess specimens revealed the characteristics of the fractures that induce instability in this area. These results provide important baseline data for future research on the mechanism of geohazards in the loess regions of western China.


Fractured loess Tensile Shear Stress–strain relationship Fracture characteristics 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, award no. 41472296) and the National Science and Technology Pillar Program during the 12th 5-year Plan Period (award no. 2012BAK10B02). The authors would like to sincerely thank the editor as well as the reviewers of this paper, who put forward useful comments that improved the manuscript substantially.


  1. Azam S, Wilson GW (2006) Volume change behavior of a fissured expansive clay containing anhydrous calcium sulfate. In: Proc 4th Int Conf on Unsaturated Soils, Carefree, AZ, USA, 2–6 April 2006, pp 906–915Google Scholar
  2. Chen T, Deng G, Chen S et al (2006) Effects of fissures on stability of unsaturated soil slope. Chin J Geotech Eng 28(2):210–215 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  3. Deng J, Zhang H (1988) The controlling of fissure on the mechanical properties of Chengdu clay. Hydrogeol Eng Geol 2:42–46 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  4. Elzein A (2003) Contaminant transport in fissured soils by three-dimensional boundary elements. Int J Geomech 3(1):75–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Han B, Qu Y, Zhang Y (2001) Mechanical model for cracked hard clay and its application to slopes engineering in Nanyang Basin. J Eng Geol 9(2):204–208 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  6. Hu X, Qunfeng LI, Zesan ZHAO et al (1994) Mechanical characteristics of fractured clay. Chin J Geotech Eng 16(4):81–88 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  7. Huang W (1983) Soil engineering properties. China Water Conservancy and Hydropower Press, Beijing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  8. Huang Z, Zhu L, Liao Y et al (2004) Study on mechanical properties of red clay with will-developed fissures. Geotech Invest Surv 4:9–12 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  9. Kodikara JK, Choi X (2006) A simplified analytical model for desiccation cracking of clay layers in laboratory tests. In: Proc 4th Int Conf on Unsaturated Soils, Carefree, AZ, USA, 2–6 April 2006, pp 2558–2569Google Scholar
  10. Kong D (1994) Fracture clay. Geological Press, Beijing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  11. Lu Q, Peng J, Zhixin C et al (2005) Developmental features and regularity of loess fracture in Loess Plateau. J Soil Water Conserv 19(5):191–194 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  12. Potts DM, Dounias GT, Vaughan PR (1990) Finite element analysis of progressive failure of Carsington embankment. Geotechnique (London, England) 40(1):79–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shi B, Jiang H (2001) Research on the analysis techniques for clayey soil microstructure. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 20(6):864–870 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  14. Simons NE (1976) Field studies of the stability of embankments on clay foundations. Bjerrum Memorial Volume. Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, pp 183–209Google Scholar
  15. Skempton AW (1964) Long-term stability of clay slope. Geotechnique (London, England) 14(2):77–101Google Scholar
  16. Skempton AW, Vaughan PR (1993) The failure of Carsington Dam. Geotechnique (London, England) 43(1):151–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Skempton AW, Schuster RL, Petley DJ (1969) Joints and fissures in the London clay at Wraysburg and Edgware. Geotechnique (London, England) 19(2):205–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Stark TD, Eid HT (1997) Slope stability analyses in stiff fissured clays. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 123(4):335–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sun P, Peng J, Yin Y et al (2010) Tensile test and simulation analysis of fracture process of loess. Rock Soil Mech 31(2):633–637 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  20. Tunçdemir F, Ergun MU (2005) A laboratory study into fracture grouting of fissured Ankara Clay. In: Schaefer VR, Bruce DA, Byle, MJ (eds) Innovations in grouting and soil improvement. ASCE, Reston, pp 1–12Google Scholar
  21. Wang J (2000) Theory and application of ground fissures [M]. Shaanxi Science and Technology Press, Xi’an (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  22. XIE H (1998) Study on macro-mesoscopic mechanics of pore and fracture rock mass. Chin J Geotech Eng 20(4):113–114 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  23. Yuan J (2003) Fracture model of unsaturated expansive soil and the slope stability. Hehai University, Nanjing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  24. Yuan J, Yin Z (2004) Numerical model and simulation of expansive soils slope infiltration considered fissures. Rock Soil Mechan 25(10):1581–1586 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  25. Zhao Z, Wang X (1995) Strength characteristics of fractured clay under over-consolidation state. China Railw Sci 16(4):56–62 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ping Sun
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jianbing Peng
    • 3
  • Liwei Chen
    • 4
  • Quanzhong Lu
    • 3
  • Ogbonnaya Igwe
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of GeomechanicsChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Neotectonic Movement and GeohazardMinistry of Land and ResourcesBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Geology Engineering and GeomaticsChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  4. 4.China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation, Ltd.BeijingChina
  5. 5.Department of GeologyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

Personalised recommendations