RockMechanics, Daemen& Schultz (eds)¸ 1995Balkema, Rotterdam.

ISBN90 5410 552 6

Interpretation direct of shear tests rock on joints
S. R. Hencher

Department EarthSciences, University Leecls, of The of UK

ABSTRACT: The originsof shear strengthare reviewedin the context of direct sheartesting of rock discontinuities. methodof analysing A data to correctfor dilationover differentincrements horizontal of displacement throughout test is demonstrated variousformsof presenting a and data are discussed. is It argued that the corrected strength envelope the testas a wholecanbe usedto deriveappropriate for lower boundstrength parameters design. for Additionalstrength may be allowable account roughness the to for at field scale,but as an alternative approach, is recommended the dilation-corrected it that strength used be directly design for with a lowerfactorof safety shear on strength wouldnormally adopted. than be

variability wouldbe expected naturally for rough

The shearstrength naturalrock discontinuities of is oftendiffic•t to predict largely because their of roughness. addition, different mineralshave In di•rent frictionalproperties; furthermore h'trill or weathering can influence all other parameters includingthe effectiveroughness. The problems are compounded the apparent by effectsof scale
and normal stress level.

It is apparent currently that manygeotechnical engineers considerdirect shear tests on rock discontinuities be of limiteduse for providing to
reliable design parameters. A proced•e for

analysingand interpretingtest results which
accounts sample-variable for roughness that the so
data can be used with confidence is described in


One optionis to carryout directsheartestson small samples even though it is generally recognised thesemay be unrepresentative that of the discontinuities the field, particularlywith in
respectto roughness. The recommended methods




2.1 Shearstrength models The mostgenerally accepted models rockshear for strength appropriate civil engineering mining to or conditions those L•ri_•rtyi Archambault are of & (1970) andBartonandco-workers reviewed (as by Barton& Bandis,1990andBandis,1993). Boththeories theshear take strength a planar of surface a lowerbound as thenaddcomponents of strength to dilation to damage asperities. due or of In Bartons model lowerbound the planar surface strength defined theresidual is as shear strength,

for testing published ISRM (Brown, 1978) and by by CANMET (Oyenge Herget,1977)emphasise & the importance of careful monitoring of displacement data as well as loads,but give litfie guidance interpretation results. on of Reported directshear testdatatendto showthe samegeneraltrendsof increasing shearstrength with increasingroughness,especiallyat low normalstress levels,but often little consistency in
the results achieved. Even for tests on artificial

planarsurfaces, consistent resultsare not always obtained and requireskill for interpretation. For example, Nicholson (1994) reported variation a in

q•r, basic or friction angle, Theauthors •. suggest
that this value can be determined from tests on

friction angle 12.5degrees saw-cut of for samples of the samesandstone testedby four different
laboratories. He commented that even greater

flat,saw-cut sand and blasted surfaces through the parent rock. Fromliterature survey, typical values for •r aregivenas30ø4-5ø (30ø4. 1.5 according ø

toBarton Bandis, & 1990). strength The
contribution from roughness estimated is with reference a series joint roughness to of profiles (JRC)modified co•g to rockwail strength ac, andstress level.Over twentyyears,thecriterion hasbeenrevised several times, mostimportantly to incorporate effects scale JRCandrockwall of on strength (JCS)andalsoto makeit clearthatit may be appropriate allowfor additional to field roughness JRC hasbeencorrected scale. once for Many recent papers rockshear on have concentrated testing JRCconcept on on the or waysof better defining JRC(seefor example Hsiunget al. 1993;Kulatilakeet al., 1994;Odling, 1994).Very little attention beengivento the has 'basic'frictioncomponent. In themethod analysis shear datafor of of test natural joints,presented below,theeffects of
external work due to dilation are corrected for. It

1989). Furthermore this correction doesnot allow

for freshsurfaces whichhavea highnatural polish or surfaces whichhavea low frictioncoatingboth of whichmayhavepeakshear strengths lower far than• aspreviously defined. A conceptual problem withtheempirical approach thatByerlee is (1985)notes that,whilst theshear strength rockjointsat low stresses of is extremely variable (dueto variable roughness), at higherstresses, wheretheeffectof roughness is assumed be essentially shear to lost, strength is frictional thatfor themajority rocksthe and of
frictioncoefficient 0.85 (40.4ø) for normal is

stresses below200 Mpa. Bartons equation predicts thatshear strength should approach (about10 •r degrees less)asthenormal stress level approaches thecompressive strength thewail rock. of

should emphasised thedilation-corrected be that
frictional resistance thus determined is not the

2.2 Physical origins shear of strength
Fundamental workon thephysical origins rock of frictionincludes of Byerlee that (1967),Engelder & Scholz (1976),Ohnaka (1975) andmanyothers. A veryuseful, recent reviewfroma fundamental viewpoint presented Scholz is by (1990). The componentsof shear strength are represented schematically Table 1 anddiscussed in brieflybelow: 1. The lowerbound strength anydiscontinuity for through rock is probably derivedfrom chemical

equivalent •r in Bartons of empirical criterion as suggested Bandis(1993). by Oneof thepotential problems theempirical with approach thatengineers assume the is may that
"basic" or "residual" friction determined from a

sawcut,sand-blasted surface following or considerable shear displacement a natural of joint is a uniqueparameter a particular for rockor rock joint.Moreimportantly, mayalso they wrongly assume thatvalueis thelowest that possible strength the rocktype. for It is well established the shear that strength of planarsurfaces through same the rockcanbe quite variable depending uponsurface finish(Coulson, 1971).Frictionangles muchlower thanthose for typicalsaw-cut sand and blasted surfaces be can measured artificially from polished surfaces (Byerlee,1967)or following longdisplacements andthe removalof debris(Fiericher, 1976). Similarly, measured shear strengths natural for jointscanbe muchlowerthanfor a sawcut surface through same the rock.Datareported by Richards (1975)indicating frictionangles low as as 12øfor weathered sandstones noted were by Barton Choubey & (1977)whosuggested a that correction factorcouldbe applied •r when to dealing with weathered rocks. This is doneby usingtheratio of the Schmidt hammerrebound
value for a weathered surface to that of a fresh

andphysical bonds whichare continually formed and brokenduring shearover the true area of contact originally as proposed Terzhagi(1925) by and established experimentally for metals by
Bowden & Tabor (1964). It has not yet been confirmed that the adhesional theoryof frictionis entirelyappropriate rocks(Boitnott al., 199'2) to et butfor many rocks is clearthatthelower-bound it frictional strength likelyto be of the orderof ten is degrees. Certainly values this low can be

approached artificially naturally for or polished
rock surfaces.

surface. practice, In weathered jointscan rock

exhibit higher strengths their shear than less
weathered counterparts (Hencher Richards, &

2. Additional frictional strength a textural at scale is derived from the interaction minorasperities of which are deformedand damaged locally during shear without causingdilation of the whole discontinuity (by definition). In the case of a typical test on saw-cut surfacesfor which a friction angle of 30 degreesis measured, is it estimated that perhaps of shearresistance 2/3 is due to surface textural damageand deformation processes. Surfaces whichhaveevenrougher


Table1 Factors contributin• theshear to strensth rockdiscontinuities Hencher, of (after 1987)
1. ADttESION (lower boundfriction)

increasing normalload-• N1

- Bonding overtrueareaof contact (At, Az) ß ß ß ß proportional normalload to does cause not dilation definition) (by no reduction displ•ent with same different for textural surfaces roughness and




(additional friction) increasing normalload-• N1 N2

- Surface texture component
ß proportional normalload to
ß does not cause dilation

ß generally decreases with displacement to damage due andtheproduction debris of ß increases rougher with surface texture


- Work donedueto dilation compression or ß uphillsliding leadsto an increase measured in strength
and vice versa

ß purely geometrical effect ß decreases with increasing normalload and decreasing wall rockstrength

-Shearing rockbridges locked of and asperities
ß notproportional normalload to ß independent dilation of ß lostafterpeakstrength

surface textures produced a diamond than by saw, yet still haveplanarmorphologies, give even will higher strengths without dilating.

1990; Kutter & Otto, 1990; Hencheret al., 1993; Papaliangas al., 1994). From experienceof et testingnaturaldiscontinuities, contribution this to

3. Where discontinuity a is rough a coarser' at
scale,additional strength derivedfrom work is done by overriding large asperities (dilation)and thiscanbe accounted by carefulmeasurement for andanalysis discussed as later.Work is alsodone in deformingor damaging those same large asperities which cause dilation and this contribution a matterof somedebate(Barton, is

shear strength essentially is frictional (proportional to normal load)andinseparable component from 2
above. Nevertheless the detailed interaction of

largeasperities any situation be complex in will anddepend upongeometry (and thusscale)and asperity strength relativeto stress level much in the ways envisaged Ladanyi & Archambault by (1970)andBanon& Choubey (1977).


4. True cohesion resultsfrom the shearing of intact rock bridges or healed sections of
discontinuities but will not be considered here;
discussion will instead concentrate on continuous



fractures. Lockingof steepasperities alsogive can riseto a true cohesive strength involving sheafing of the asperities, work involvednot being the represented an equivalent as dilationangle(as is the case for asperity deformationand damage duringtheoverriding asperities, of factor3.). No account will be givenof the special problems associated infilledjoints. with In practice, thereare two stages determining in shear strengthfor design. Firstly, the friction
available at a textural scale needs to be determined


750 st;zess4 t•sheaz 1


ent 0
0 5



(factors 1 & 2 above). This dependsupon the finishand mineralogy the naturalsurfaces of and may be higheror lower thanfor saw-cutsurfaces throughthe parentrock. Secondly, someaccount can be taken of the strength contributedby roughness interaction irapersistence and (factors 3 & 4 above)at the field scale.

Figure1 Measured datafrom a directshear test on a naturaldiscontinuity
work done throughout test. After correction, the the underlying frictionalresistance effectively of planarsurfaces naturaltextureand mineralogy of
is revealed.






The importance roughness shear of to strength at therelatively low stresses mostcivil engineering of situations clear. Samples is from the samerock typeor evenfrom the same discontinuity with but different roughness will exhibit cliff•t shear strengthbehaviour.Furthermore the effective roughness a single of sample be directional will so that differentstrengths will be measured the for samesample depending uponthe way the sample is setup (Huang& Doong,1990).For thisreason a single parameter set of parameters or cannot be expected adequately represent roughness to the of a specific sample. FollowingPattons(1966) appraisal shear of strength at relatively low stress levels as comprising "basic" a frictionangletogether with a dilation angle, manyresearchers found have that,if corrections madefor dilationat peakstrength, are (generallyby simply taking away a measured dilationanglefrom the peakfrictionangle)thena lessscattered shear strength envelope produced. is Suchan approach beenemployed various has by authorsincluding Ross-Brown Walton (1976) & and is recommended CANMET (Gyenge& by Herget, 1977). The methodof analysis discussed belowemploys sameprinciple corrections the but
are made in an incremental fashion for volumetric

Hencherand Richards (1989) discuss procedures for shear testing at the laboratoryscale. The

importance of careful description and documentation the interpretation resultsis to of emphnsised. Shearstress, horizontal displacement and verticaldisplacement should measured be at
the sametimes throughoutthe test. These raw

data can be plotted as suggested ISRM by
(Brown,1978)andshown fig.1. in Incremental dilationangles lending eachshear to
stress measurement can be calculated from the


i= tlM¾ 15v/Sh


i is theangle dilation compression, 5v is of or and the increment vertical of displncement through the lineof normal loading overa selected increment of horizontaldisplacement, The incrementof õh. horizontaldisplacement over which to measure dilationmust be selected with due regard to the necessary detail of analysisand the potential

errors.displacement, relatively ffdilation • readingerrors measured large increments of is
are reduced, but a lessdetailedpictureof shear behaviour obtained. is Thiscanleadto significant




0.18mm steps


T-- +1.450 0.68

t (#60)
i, ,

• .

• ß r•-.• m
m ß m '
2 3



m '

m '





•/•0 •'

[] measured peaks
ß dilation-corrected

200 4oo

o, s,aw , -•u•
600 800 1o0o




for v•o•








for •afion.

Figure2 Peakandcorrected peakstrengths for quartzsyenite. Saw-cutstrengths for comparison.

clearlyessentially frictional. For comparison, data from saw cut surfaces includedin this figure are with • = 28ø.In 1982a largerockslidetookplace throughthe samerock on a discontinuity dipping

differences interpretation, in particularly the in case of discontinuities undergoing strong volumetric changes, and shouldbe investigated during analysis. practice, In experience shows that, for a system measuring an accuracy about to of ß0.005 ram,analysis horizontal over displacement increments about 0.2 rnm generally of gives reasonably smooth dilation curves whilstretaining mostof the detail.The work directly attributable
to dilation or contraction can then be corrected for

at only21 degrees • conditions. could in This only be understood followinga seriesof direct
sheartestswhichrevealedthat friction anglesas low as 19 degreeswere typical of some of the
natural discontinuities involved in the failure at the stress levels involved. This case illustrates the

byresolving stresses respect theactual the with to plane sliding using following of by the equalions:
duringdilation: % = (xcosi- o•nO c•i o•- (ocosi+ x•u] •i duringcontraction: %= (xcosi+ osin/)cos/ Oc- (ocosi - xsinO cos/

importance of careful testing to engineering practice. Peak strengthdata for a variety of rocks including granites, sandstone and siltstone presented Barton& Bakhtar(1987) andKutter by (1974) areplottedin fig.3. Corrections havebeen made for dilation angles, either as reported directly, measured published or from graphs. can It
be seen that the corrected data define a friction

2 3

4 5

angle of about 40ø quite clearly. The same, dilation-corrected, friction angle is commonly measured low stress at levels(say < 3 MPa) for manynatural discontinuities throughsilicate recks, which do not have particularly tightly matching surfaces and which are not especially smoothor
coated with low friction minerals. It is also of

ß = shear stress measured as horizontally, o = normal stress measured as vertically,

%= shear stress along actual the plane sliding, of oc= normal stress across actual the plane of

Thecorrected canbepresented a number data in

of ways. Corrections solely peak made at strength
are shownin figs. 2 and 3. Data from a series of testson a well matched, rough tensilefracture

through strong very quartz syenite presented are in

fig.2.Over applied the stress range, very the high, non-dilational strength envelope ~ 55ø)is (•

interestthat this is the sameanglereportedby Byedee (1978) as typical of a variety of rock discontinuities notcorrected) highstresses (data at up to 200 MPa asnotedearlier. Although thereis always considerable interest in peakstrength behaviour is oftenmoreusefulto it presentdata as illustrated fig.4. Here shear in stress data are plottedagainst normalstresses for the test as a whole, both as measured (corrected for gross contact areachange) and corrected for dilation compression. corrected or A strength envelope generally defined the majority is well by

of dataeventhough individual datum points may










[] +

runs1,2,4,6,8 (cozzecbed)
zu• 9

0 250 500

750 1000

(measured) occurs whenthe dilationangleis only about 5ø and that, by the time the maximum dilationangleof about 15ø is reached, measured strength already is reducing. Thisis contrary the to common beliefthat the dilatency rate is greatest at peak measured strength (see for example Goodman,1989) and would not be seenwithout careful insuumentation analysis. and










Figure4 Stress pathplotsfor a multistage on test quartzsyenite.

Correctedsheartest data reveal the underlying
frictional resistance detmnimA with the effect of

ßmeasured ratio•-5

sample-dependent volumetricchangesremoved. The strength therefore an effectively is for planar yet naturally texturedsurface. The influences of mineralogy fully represented. are The shearstrengththus determined might be taken as a lower-boundstrength for design purposes, althoughadditionalstrengthmay be allowable the influence roughness. field for of A dilationanglecanbe addedfollowingthe methods described Fecker& Rengers by (1971) wherethe roughness characterised using plates of is by
different size to measure deviations from the mean

O0 ....

• ....

lb ....

1• 10
r• •e md •st


5 She• s•ss:no• s• •afion •gl• •ou•out

lie eitheraboveor belowthe bulk of datapoints. A thirdusefulplot, whichdemonstrates detailed behaviour, illustrated fig. 5 which showsthe is in ratios of shearto normal stresses (measured and corrected) plottedagainst horizontal displacement for a singlestageof a multistage on a closely test matcheddiscontinuity. Dilation anglescalculated overhorizontal displacements 0.18 mm arealso of plottedagainst displacement. can be seenthat It the dilationcorrection produces fairly constant a ratio over the latter part of the test but that the underlyingfriction still has a pronounced peak
even in the absence of dilation. This is due to the

plane.This automatically allowsfor the effectsof scale; problem thena matterof judgingover the is what scaledilationmightbe allowedas discussed by Richards Cowland & (1982). It should always beremembered theeffective that dilationanglewill be that through whichthe centreof gravityof the sliding mass moves not the angle inclination and of of individualasperitiesat the surface of the discontinuity, even when allowance made for is their likely deformationand failure. Research reported Bandis al. (1981) andconfirmed by et by Papaliangas al. (1994) indicates a rapid et reductionin measured dilation with length of discontinuity. possibleapproachfor design A therefore, is to accept the dilation-corrected strength envelope a lower bound,to ignorethe as

potential effects dilation, thento reduce of and the requiredfactor of safetyon shearstrength to
perhaps or 1.2 ratherthanthe valuesof 1.3 or 1.1
1.4 which are often used.

interlockingof very strong m/nor asperities at early stages of shear in this case. The peak frictional resistance occurs an early stage at just as the discontinuity beginsto dilate. As the joint dilates,so the peak caused interlocking a by on textural scale is lost. Note that peak strength

6 CONCLUSIONS Direct shear tests on natural discontinuities often

yield a wide range of shearstrengths basedon

ß measured data. This is generally due to sampledependentand direction-dependent roughness. During testing, continuaUyresolving stresses relativeto the actualplaneof sliding,allowsdata to be plotted to reveal the underlyingshear strength of an effectively planar yet natural surface. This frictionangleis generally quitewell
defined for a set of discontinuities of similar

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