Critical review on shear strength models for soil-infilled joints



Publication Details

Oliveira, DAF, Indraratna, B and Nemcik, J, Critical review on shear strength models for soil-infilled joints, Geomechanics and Geoengineering: an international journal, 4(3), 2009, 237-244.


An infilled rock joint is likely to be the weakest plane in a rock mass. The presence of infill material within the joint significantly reduces the friction of the discontinuity boundaries (i.e. rock to rock contact of the joint walls). The thicker the infill, the smaller the shear strength of the rock joint. Once the infill reaches a critical thickness, the infill material governs the overall shear strength, and the joint walls (rock) play no significant role. Several models have been proposed to predict the peak shear strength of soil-infilled joints under both constant normal load (CNL) and constant normal stiffness (CNS) boundary conditions, taking into account the ratio of infill thickness (t) to the height of the joint wall asperity (a). CNS models provide a more realistic picture of the soil-infilled joint behaviour in the field. This paper presents a critical review on the existing mathematical models for predicting the shear strength of soil-infilled rock joint and verifies the normalised peak shear stress model with further laboratory investigations carried out on idealised saw-tooth rock joints at the University of Wollongong. Based on the prediction of the experimental data, the normalised peak shear stress model is slightly modified by the authors. A simplified approach for using this model in practice is presented and a new expression for prediction of dilatation at peak shear stress is suggested.

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