Evaluation of Mode I Fracture Toughness Assisted by the Numerical Determination of K-Resistance
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The fracture toughness of a rock often varies depending on the specimen shape and the loading type used to measure it. To investigate the mode I fracture toughness using semi-circular bend (SCB) specimens, we experimentally studied the fracture toughness using SCB and chevron bend (CB) specimens, the latter being one of the specimens used extensively as an International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) suggested method, for comparison. The mode I fracture toughness measured using SCB specimens is lower than both the level I and level II fracture toughness values measured using CB specimens. A numerical study based on discontinuum mechanics was conducted using a two-dimensional distinct element method (DEM) for evaluating crack propagation in the SCB specimen during loading. The numerical results indicate subcritical crack growth as well as sudden crack propagation when the load reaches the maximum. A K-resistance curve is drawn using the crack extension and the load at the point of evaluation. The fracture toughness evaluated by the K-resistance curve is in agreement with the level II fracture toughness measured using CB specimens. Therefore, the SCB specimen yields an improved value for fracture toughness when the increase of K-resistance with stable crack propagation is considered.
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