Skip to main content
Log in

Shear velocity-based uncertainty quantification for rock joint shear strength

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The shear strength of rock joints is an important property required in order to analyze the stability of rock slopes and tunnels. However, estimation of the shear strength of rock joints for in situ conditions is a complex task due to various influencing factors present in the field. Among these factors, the shear velocity or the shear displacement rate along the rock joints are important parameters which are relatively less studied since their effect is considered to be of second order compared to other factors. However, some recent studies in the literature suggest that shear velocity has a significant influence on the shear strength of rock joints, and hence the shear strength of joints estimated at low shear velocities in laboratories cannot be used under in situ conditions where the possibility of higher shear velocities exist due to the presence of different factors, such as blasting, excavation, and thermal and seismic loads. In this paper, we have addressed these issues in three steps. In the first step, an experimental study on jointed rock specimens is presented to investigate the influence of the displacement rate on the shear strength of rock joints. In the second step, a probabilistic method is developed based on the experimental results and the compiled data from the literature to estimate the in situ shear strength of joints under higher displacement rate conditions, i.e., blasting, excavation, and seismic loads from laboratory-estimated shear strength at the International Society for Rock Mechanics suggested low displacement rates. In the third step, a case study of a Himalayan rock tunnel was used to demonstrate the described approach. It was observed that the shear strength of discontinuities reduced with ncreasing shear velocity and that the rate dependency was higher for low-density rocks and under high confining stress. Further, a considerable effect was observed on the probability of failure of the rock tunnel when the effect of shear velocity was considered in the stability analysis.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Ang AHS, Tang WH (1984) Probability concepts in engineering planning and design, vol 2. Wiley, New York, pp 333–400

    Google Scholar 

  • Atapour H, Moosavi M (2013) Some effects of shearing velocity on the shear stress deformation behaviour of hard–soft artificial material interfaces. Geotech Geol Eng 31(5):1603–1615

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atapour H, Moosavi M (2014) The influence of shearing velocity on shear behavior of artificial joints. Rock Mech Rock Eng 47:1745–1761

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barton NR, Choubey V (1977) The shear strength of rock joints in theory and practice. Rock Mech 10(1-2):1–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Byerlee JD, Brace WF (1968) Stick slip, stable sliding, and earthquakes-effect of rock type, pressure, strain rate, and stiffness. J Geophys Res 73:6031–6037

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crawford AM, Curran JH (1981) The influence of shear velocity on the frictional resistance of rock discontinuities. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 18:505–515

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Curran JH, Leong PK (1983) Influence of shear velocity on rock joint strength. Proc. of Int. Cong. Rock Mechanics, ISRM, Melbourne, 1: 235-240

  • Dieterich JH (1972) Time-dependent friction in rocks. J Geophys Res 77(20):3690–3697

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dieterich JH (1978) Time-dependent friction and the mechanics of stick–slip. Pure Appl Geophys 116:790–806

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Duzgun HSB, Yucemen MS, Karpuz C (2002) A probabilistic model for the assessment of uncertainties in the shear strength of rock discontinuities. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 39:743–754

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoang TTN, Barbier MG, Sulem J, Marache A, Riss J (2010). Mechanical behavior of natural marble discontinuities. In: Proceedings of conference on Rock Mechanics in Civil and Environmental Engineering-2010, Lausanne, p 215–218

  • Indraratna B (1990) Development and applications of a synthetic material to simulate soft sedimentary rocks. Geotechnique 40(2):189–200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Indraratna B, Jayanathan M, Brown ET (2008) Shear strength model for over consolidated clay-infilledidealised rock joints. Geotechnique 58(1):55–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ISRM (1981) Rock characterizition, testing and monitoring. In: Brown ET (ed) ISRM suggested methods-1981. Pergamon, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Jafari MK, Pellet F, Boulon M, Hosseini K (2004) Experimental study of mechanical behaviour of rock joints under cyclic loading. Rock Mech Rock Eng 37(1):3–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleepmek M (2014) Effects of shear velocity on fracture shear strength of rocks under confinements. Ph.D. Thesis, 2014, Suranaree University of Technology

  • Lajtai EZ (1991) Time-dependent behaviour of the rock mass. Geotech Geol Eng 9:109–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li B, Jiang Y, Wang G (2012) Evaluation of shear velocity dependency of rock fractures by using repeated shear tests. In: Proceeding of 12th ISRM Congress, Harmonising Rock Engineering and the Environment-2012, Beijing, p 699-702

  • Meemun P (2014) Shear strength testing of rock fractures under constant normal load and constant normal stiffness as affected by displacement rates. Ph.D. Thesis, 2014, Suranaree University of Technology

  • Mehrishal S, Sharifzadeh M, Shahriar K, Song JJ (2016) An experimental study on normal stress and shear rate dependency of basic friction coefficient in dry and wet limestone joints. Rock Mech Rock Eng 49:4607–4629

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mirzaghorbanali A, Nemcik J, Aziz N (2014) Effects of shear rate on cyclic loading shear behaviour of rock joints under constant normal stiffness conditions. Rock Mech Rock Eng 47(5):1931–1938

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ramamurthy T (2010) Engineering in rocks for slopes foundations and tunnels. Prentice-Hall of India, New Delhi

    Google Scholar 

  • Rocscience (2014) Unwedge version 4.013, underground wedge stability analysis. In: Rocscience Inc. , Ontario, Canada

  • Schneider HJ (1977) The time dependence of friction of rock joints. Bull IAEG 16:235–239

    Google Scholar 

  • Scholz CH, Engelder JT (1976) The role of asperity indentation and ploughing in rock friction-I. Asperity creep and stick-slip. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr 13:149–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Swolfs JS (1971) Influence of pore-fluid chemistry and temperature on fracture on sandstone under confining pressure. Ph.D. Thesis, College station, Texas A&M

  • Tang ZC, Wong LNY (2016) Influences of normal loading rate and shear velocity on the shear behavior of artificial rock joints. Rock Mech Rock Eng 49(6):2165–2172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tang WH, Yucemen MS, Ang AHS (1976) Probability-based short term design of soil slopes. Can Geotech J 13:201–215

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Teufel LW (1976) The measurement of contact areas and temperature during frictional sliding of Tennessee sandstone, M.Sc. thesis, Texas A&M University

  • Teufel LW, Logan JM (1977) Effect of shortening rate on the real area of contact and temperatures generated during frictional sliding. Pure Appl Geophys 116:840–865

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang W, Scholz CH (1994) Micromechanics of the velocity and normal stress dependence of rock friction. Pure Appl Geophys 143:303–315

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang G, Zhang X, Jiang Y, Wu X, Wang S (2016) Rate-dependent mechanical behavior of rough rock joints. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 83:231–240

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gaurav Tiwari.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tiwari, G., Latha, G.M. Shear velocity-based uncertainty quantification for rock joint shear strength. Bull Eng Geol Environ 78, 5937–5949 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: