Fracture Mechanics – Examples of Applications in Rock Engineering

Rock Engineering 2009 - Rock Engineering in Difficult Conditions
Abstract In medicine, if one wants to cure the disease, it is not sufficient
to fight the symptoms. The cause of the ailment has to be
identified and removed. The same approach to geomechanics
challenges can be taken if fracture mechanics is employed.
Fracture mechanics is based on physical properties rather than
(quasi-) empirical relations as usually employed.

In fracture mechanics modelling the rock mass is seen as the
combination of rock material and fractures, which are evident on
different scales. The activation and propagation of fractures
dominates the stability and performance issues as well as fluid
flow potential. Once fractures have started to grow into each
other and create through going separations, stability of rock
engineering constructions may be violated. Further, as fracture
mechanics inherently incorporated a scaling law in the form of
the participating fracture length, scaling issues can be more
accurately mirrored.

This contribution highlights some examples of application of a
fracture mechanics based code on some rock mechanics issues
such as numerical laboratory experiments, borehole stability or
the creation of fluid pathways due to underground
constructions. The results show explicitly the creation of
fractures and connection of existing ones, and hence the safety
and performance issues.

It has to be concluded that the basis for frequent application of
fracture mechanics on specialised challenges in geomechanics is
laid, and the needs for future developments are defined.
Keywords: Rock, application, Fracture mechanics, numerical
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