Plane-strain compression of rock-like materials

J. F. Labuz, S. T. Dai, E. Papamichos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


A new apparatus for determining the constitutive response of rock and concrete, named the University of Minnesota Plane-Strain Apparatus, was designed and built on a passive stiff-frame concept. The biaxial device, with U.S. Patent number 5,063,785, is unique, because it allows the failure plane to develop and propagate in an unrestricted manner, as opposed to conventional systems where the material is constrained by the testing apparatus. By placing the upper platen on a low friction linear bearing, the prismatic specimen, subjected to confining pressure and compressed axially, has the freedom to translate in the lateral direction once the deformation has localized across the entire specimen. In addition, homogeneous deformation is prompted by the use of a stearic-acid based lubricant, which is placed on the four surfaces of the specimen contacting hardened-steel platens. Thus, the apparatus combines the positive features of a conventional triaxial compression test and a direct shear test. Some 30 experiments on sandstone and mortar indicated that even though localization of deformation was detected by locations of acoustic emission prior to peak load, the failure plane was not fully formed at the peak. For the mortar, one more or less planar shear band, the orientation of which is well predicted by plasticity theories, was observed. A kinked rupture zone with two main portions, one steep and one less inclined, appeared in the sandstone; the steep portion may be a result of fracture phenomena. The dilatancy characteristics of rock-like materials may dictate the type of failure mode, either shear banding for ductile behavior or crack propagation for brittle behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-584
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences and Geomechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


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