Research Article  Open Access
Qibin Lin, Ping Cao, Peixin Wang, "Study of PostPeak Strain Softening Mechanical Behaviour of Rock Material Based on Hoek–Brown Criterion", Advances in Civil Engineering, vol. 2018, Article ID 6190376, 9 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6190376
Study of PostPeak Strain Softening Mechanical Behaviour of Rock Material Based on Hoek–Brown Criterion
Abstract
In order to build the postpeak strain softening model of rock, the evolution laws of rock parameters were obtained by using the evolutionary mode of piecewise linear function regarding the maximum principle stress. Based on the nonlinear Hoek–Brown criterion, the analytical relationship of the rock strength parameters , cohesion , and friction angle has been developed by theoretical derivation. According to the analysis on the four different types of rock, it is found that, within the range from 0 to , the peak hardness of the rock becomes smaller as the confining pressure increases and the degree of rock fragmentation decreases as well. The postpeak stressstrain curves obtained from the developed softening model are in good agreement with the laboratory test results under different confining pressures. In conclusion, the analytical method is reasonable, and it can predict the postpeak mechanical behaviour of rock well, which provides a new thought for the rocksoftening simulation.
1. Introduction
It is well known that the rock material is one type of heterogeneous brittle material with complex mechanical properties, which is significantly different from the metal material. In terms of postpeak strain softening characteristics, it is impossible to describe by the classical strength theory [1]. Many researchers have studied from different aspects regarding the postpeak strain softening behaviour. Rummel and Fairhurst [2] were one of the earliest researchers to study the general capabilities of postpeak compression tests of the rock. Tutluoglu et al. [3] gathered a lot of data related to the postfailure part of the stressstrain curve to study the relationship between prefailure and postfailure mechanical properties of the rock material. But the confining pressure on the postpeak mechanical behaviour of rock was not considered. Furthermore, the laboratory tests [4–8] show that the confining pressure greatly affected the postpeak mechanical behaviour of rock. Meng et al. [9] proposed a new evaluation method based on the magnitude and velocity of the postpeak stress drop, which accurately accounts for the influence of the confining pressure on strain softening. Alejano and Alonso [10] proposed a conveniently simple formulation of the dilatancy angle, which is capable of representing the rock sample’s strain softening behaviour in compressive tests. Walton et al. [11] performed a series of uniaxial and triaxial tests and studied postpeak behaviour about the strength, deformability, and dilatancy at low confinement. Fang and Harrison [12] utilized the concept of a degradation index to describe the variation in degradation that rock exhibits when it is subjected to various confining pressures. Zhao et al. [13] established evolution laws of the strength parameters of soft mudstone at the postpeak stage by considering stiffness degradation. By introducing the concept of generalized friction angle and generalized cohesion, Lu et al. [14] constructed the postpeak computing model combined with FLAC code. Leontiev and Huacasi [15] and Filho and Leontiev [16] have conducted research from different angles on the postpeak mechanics of rock.
In order to study the postpeak strain softening mechanical properties of rock, the mechanical models described above are based on the Mohr–Coulomb criterion. However, the extent of rock damage was not studied in their studies. It is seldom to establish the postpeak strain softening model based on the Hoek–Brown criterion. Tan et al. [17] considered degradation and expansion behaviour of the rock constructing the postpeak strain softening model based on the Hoek–Brown criterion. The rock parameters in the Hoek–Brown criterion reflect the failure condition of rock reasonably. In this paper, piecewise linear function was used to obtain the evolution of rock strength parameters . Accordingly, the analytical relationships among rock strength parameters , friction angle , and cohesion were developed, and a new postpeak strain softening model was proposed. The verification with laboratory test results shows that the analytical model is reasonable to predict the postpeak rock behaviour.
2. Simplification of Strain Softening Process
Figure 1 shows a series of stressstrain curves of Hawkesbury sandstone specimens under different confining pressures [18]. It can be observed that the rock failure is a staged development process. With the increase of confining pressure, the rock postpeak strain softening behaviour is gradually transformed into ideal elasticplastic behaviour. In order to process the main deformation and failure characteristics more informative in mathematics [19, 20], Figure 1 has been simplified to Figure 2. In Figure 2, the dash line indicates the stressstrain curve obtained by the experiment and the solid line represents the ideal stressstrain curve. The strain softening model is typically divided into three stages: prepeak elastic deformation stage, postpeak strain softening stage, and residual stage.
3. Analysis of the Rock Parameters of the Hoek–Brown Criterion and the PostPeak Constitutive Model
In the postpeak deformation stage, the development of strain softening is induced by the change of the rock strength parameters [12–14].
3.1. Strength Criterion
According to the Hoek–Brown criterion [21],where is the effective major principal stress, is the effective minor principal stress, is the strain softening parameter, and is the uniaxial compressive strength of intact rock. and are rock strength parameters; represents the degree of fragmentation of rock ranging from 0.0 to 1.0. For unfractured rock mass (i.e., rock), . represents the hardness of rock ranging from 0.0000001 to 25. For intact hard rock, .
3.2. Strain Softening Parameters
There are usually two methods for selecting strain softening parameters. The first one is based on the increment method:wherein represents the changing rate of the ith principal plastic strain.
In another method, the strain softening parameter is considered as a function of the internal variable. The major principal strain , the major principal plastic strain , the plastic shear strain , and the equivalent plastic shear strain are frequently used in this method:
As the rock parameters vary with the increase of the major principal strain, the major principal strain from the above method is used as the softening parameter in this paper, which leads to ease of analytical calculation.
3.3. Analysis of Rock Strength Parameters and the PostPeak Constitutive Model
The relationship between postpeak strength parameters and strain softening parameter, namely, the evolution of strength parameters, can be obtained by the laboratory experiment and numerical simulation. For simplicity, the mentioned relationship is often assumed as the form of a piecewise linear function [22–25], which can be expressed aswhere , , and represent the strength parameter, strength parameter at the peak, and strength parameter at the starting point of the residual stage, respectively; and are the critical softening parameter at the peak and strength parameter at the starting point of the residual stage, as shown in Figure 3.
According to (4), the evolution of rock strength parameters can be obtained:where are the peak values of ; are the peak residual values of ; and are the major principal strain values at the peak and at the starting point of the residual stage, respectively.
By substituting (5) and (6) into (1), the integration in (1) may be carried out analytically, and the postpeak strain softening constitutive model can be obtained accordingly.
4. Analytical Study of Hoek–Brown Parameters
Before calculation by (5) and (6), the strength parameters at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage should be determined. In rock engineering, strength parameters are generally determined by Geological Strength Index (GSI). However, it is difficult to use such a method to indicate strength parameters for rock specimens. Therefore, the paper proposes to use the Mohr–Coulomb strength criterion to obtain strength parameters at the peak and at the starting point of the residual stage under different confining pressures. The strength parameters can be obtained via the relationship between themselves and the strength parameters afterwards.
4.1. Strength Parameters at the Peak and the Starting Point of the Residual Stage
Cohesion and friction angle at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage under different confining pressures are various [26]. The paper assumes that any point in the postpeak stage is satisfied with the Mohr–Coulomb ultimate failure condition during the elastic unloading process. In this case, the unloading path L is parallel with the secant M at the peak, as shown in Figure 4. The same plastic shear strain , under different confining pressures and the same unloading path, corresponds to a series of different ultimate stress states: , , and . By using the above method, the groups of different ultimate stress at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage can be obtained and displayed as Mohr stress circles in Figure 5. According to several Mohr stress circles, the envelope can be drawn. Thus, the corresponding cohesion and friction angle at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage under different confining pressures can be obtained by analysis of the Mohr strength straight lines through the tangent points of envelopes.
4.2. Analytical Derivation
Uniaxial compressive strength of rock mass may be expressed as [27]
Uniaxial tensile strength of rock mass may be written as [12]
By combining with the Mohr–Coulomb criterion, cohesion and friction angle can be obtained [28]:
By combining (7)–(10), the relationship among , , , and can be obtained:
Equations (11) and (12) can be modified to the following equations:where
By combining (13)–(16), the following results can be expressed:
Substituting (17) and (18) into (15) and (16), the following equations are obtained:
After substituting the strength parameters at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage into (19) and (20), the rock strength parameters at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage can be calculated accordingly.
Equations (19) and (20) show that the rock strength parameters are related to the uniaxial compressive strength of intact rock , friction angle , and cohesion , which can be expressed as
In terms of several groups of under different confining pressures, is calculated [10]:where , and is the number of groups of data.
5. Verification and Discussion
5.1. Application of the Developed Analytical Method
In order to verify the developed postpeak strain softening model, the triaxial compression test results of the Hawkesbury sandstone [18] were used. The strength parameters at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage for the Hawkesbury sandstone were calculated via the above analytical method, and the results are shown in Table 1. According to (22), of the Hawkesbury sandstone is 21.21 MPa.

Substituting the data in Table 1 into (19) and (20), the corresponding rock strength parameters at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage are obtained and listed in Table 2.

It can be observed from Table 2 that the rock strength parameter is greater than 1.0, which is contradicted with the defined range of (from 0 to 1.0). The reason is that the cohesion and the friction angle are obtained based on the Mohr–Coulomb strength criterion. There is a maximum limit of confining pressure for linear fitting between the Mohr–Coulomb criterion and Hoek–Brown criterion [29], as shown in Figure 6.
In terms of the upper limit of the maximum confining pressure obtained in rock engineering, it is mainly influenced by the engineering experience and classification. It is suggested in this paper that the value of the maximum confining pressure can be reached when the strength parameter value is equal to 1.0. In this elastic state, the rock specimen is in peak strength under the confining pressure. Furthermore, the internal structure of the specimen is unfractured; therefore, Hoek–Brown and Mohr–Coulomb criteria could be used to fit its stressstrain curve. On the contrary, once this upper limit of the maximum confining pressure is exceeded, it is unmeaningful to use the Hoek–Brown criterion or Mohr–Coulomb criterion since the calculated results display deviation from the real ones. In other words, it is no necessary to define a value to .
As indicated in Tables 1 and 2, the cohesion and friction angle at the peak and the starting point of the residual stage change with the confining pressure. It may be concluded that cohesion and friction angle are a function of the confining pressure . By conducting secondary fitting of , , and in Table 1, the fitting result is shown in Figures 7 and 8, and the fitting functions are
Substituting (23) and (24) into (19), the maximum confining pressure is calculated to be 12.1 MPa when in (19).
It can be found from Table 2 that when the specimen reaches the peak strength, and .
Within a certain range of confining pressure and increasing confining pressure at the peak, becomes smaller while becomes greater. It can be concluded that the increase of confining pressure results in smaller hardness at the peak and better rock quality. With the increase of confining pressure, rock develops gradually from brittle to ductile, which results in increased plasticity, reduced brittleness, and reduced hardness. It is interesting to note that as a result of the increase of confining pressure, the internal extent of the damage becomes smaller and the fragmentation influences less when the rock reaches the peak.
By substituting the corresponding values of for the confining pressures of 2, 5, 8, and 12 MPa into (5) and (6), the analytical results of such two equations can be obtained and substituted into (1). Thus, the postpeak strain softening model of the Hawkesbury sandstone can be established. Figure 9 displays the comparison between the whole stressstrain curves of numerical simulation and triaxial compression tests for the Hawkesbury sandstone.
5.2. Discussion of Results
In order to verify the analytical results, the same analytical method was carried out with laboratory results of the representative rock types: Indiana limestone [26], Tennessee marble [7], and Hegang granite [7]. Table 3 presents the axial strains and the rock parameters of different rock types corresponding to the peak strength and residual strength. The values of are related to different confining pressures. Figures 9–11 illustrate the comparison chart between the numerical simulation and experimental data for the Hawkesbury sandstone, Tennessee marble, and Hegang granite, respectively.

As can be seen from Figures 9–12, numerical simulation is consistent with experimental data trends within a certain range of confining pressure, and the numerical simulation value agrees well with actual experimental values, especially for peak strength and residual strength. It indicates that the postpeak strain softening model established in the paper is reasonable, and it can accurately describe the mechanical postpeak behaviour of rock.
For better understanding of the postpeak softening characteristics and the degree of fragmentation and the degree of brittleness of rock, the brittleness index is proposed for . Figure 13 illustrates the relationship among , confining pressure, and rock type.
As the confining pressure decreases, gradually decreases and tends to become stable finally. In other words, as the confining pressure increases, the rock gradually develops brittleness to ductility. Influenced by the confining pressure, the performance of brittleness of different types of rock is varying. The results also show that the reaction of the Hawkesbury sandstone is the most violent, followed by the Hegang granite and Tennessee marble.
6. Conclusion
A reasonable postpeak strain softening model plays an important role in the analysis of rock behaviour. Based on the nonlinear Hoek–Brown criterion, a postpeak strain softening model was proposed in this paper, and the conclusions are listed below:(1)Based on the Hoek–Brown criterion, the maximum principal strain was selected as the softening parameter. The piecewise linear function was used to evaluate the rock strength parameters , and the postpeak strain softening model was obtained accordingly.(2)By theoretical derivation, the analytical relation of parameters , cohesion , and friction angle is determined. The cohesion and friction angle under different confining pressures can be obtained regarding any points of the postpeak stage. This developed relationship helps to establish a nonlinear postpeak strain softening model.(3)The laboratory test results of the Hawkesbury sandstone show that with the increase of confining pressure, the rock hardness in peak strength becomes smaller. However, the degree of rock fragmentation in peak strength becomes lower within the range of confining pressure from 0 to . When the rock strength parameter reaches 1, the upper limit of the confining pressure for best fitting between the Hoek–Brown criterion and Mohr–Coulomb criterion can be obtained.(4)The analytical results of the developed strain softening model have been verified with laboratory results of the Hawkesbury sandstone, Indiana limestone, Tennessee marble, and Hegang granite. The results of the analytical method and laboratory tests are in good agreement, and it is concluded that the proposed model can predict the postpeak mechanical properties of the rock accurately.(5)Different types of rock may have different values of . The value of is related to the influence of the confining pressure on the brittleness of rock. As the confining pressure increases, the value of obtained from the same rock type becomes small, which results in the weakened brittleness.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51174228 and 11772358).
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Copyright © 2018 Qibin Lin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.