PROGRESSIVE MICROSCOPIC DAMAGE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF MACROSCOPIC FRACTURE IN POROUS SANDSTONES
Tamarkin, Thomas Francis
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The precursory phenomena associated with dilatancy have been extensively studied as a potential means of earthquake prediction. It is known that microstructural damage induced dilatancy precedes macroscopic failure of a rock. However, the quantitative relationship between microstructural damage and fault development is not clearly understood. To better understand the mechanics of brittle faulting of rock and the association of precursory phenomena with faulting, a detailed microstructural study was conducted on porous sandstone deformed to different post-failure stages at different strain rates. A lateral relaxation loading configuration was adopted in which a cylindrical sample is deformed under decreasing radial stresses while the axial load remains constant. This loading path was proven to successfully map out the brittle failure envelope. Compared to conventional triaxial deformation testing, the relaxation loading configuration greatly increases the stability of fault growth. A suite of samples were deformed and subsequently unloaded at different post-failure stages, before macroscopic faulting occurred. Progressive microstructural damage was investigated via quantitative characterization of crack damage indices, crack density, and changes in porosity. Ultimately, this research will lead to an improved comprehension of the relationship between microscopic damage and macroscopic fracture development, providing a better insight into the brittle failure process.