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Mohr-Coulomb failure

ritical porosity
However, this equation predicts a finite strength even as porosity approaches 1.0. More realistic forms must be
used so that strength vanishes at some porosity c. This limiting porosity was shown as a crossover porosity
from rock to a slurry by Raymer et al.[2] and was referred to as "critical porosity" elsewhere. Jizba [3] used such a
concept to derive a general strength relationship for sandstones:

where and n are the shear and normal stresses at failure.
The 0.36 within the parentheses is her presumed value for c. Notice, however, that this form indicates that
sandstones have no tensile or cohesive strength. We can obtain a better result by using Jizbas relationship at
elevated confining pressure (say, 50 MPa), where it is more valid, and recasting the trend in terms of 'Eq. 2, as
we did for the Scott relation.[4] Dobereiner and DeFreitas[5] measured several weak sandstones, and their results
suggest that critical porosity is approximately 0.42. Using this critical porosity, we derive a uniaxial compressive

This C0 equation is plotted in Fig. 2 along with the modified Scott[6] and Jizba[3] equations and data of Dobereiner
and DeFreitas.[5]

Compaction strength
After a threshold region the rock begins to show ductile deformation under confining pressure. The pressure
under which a rock deforms is known as its compaction strength.
In Fig. 3, at some elevated stress or confining pressure, the rock will begin to show ductile deformation. The
grain structure begins to collapse, and the rock will compact and lose porosity. This compaction strength, Cc, is
itself a function of porosity as well as mineralogy, diagenesis, and texture. In Figs. 4a and 4b, the behavior of
two rocks under hydrostatic pressure is shown. The high-porosity (33%) sandstone (Fig. 4a) has a low "crush"
strength of about 55 MPa. With a lower porosity of 19%, Berea sandstone has a much higher strength of 440
MPa (Fig. 4b). Notice that in both Figs. 4a and 4b, permanent deformation remains even after the stress is
released. This hysteresis demonstrates the damage to the matrix structure caused by exceeding the crush

Goal: To understand the relationships between stress, brittle failure, and

frictional faulting and to use this relationship to predict rock behavior
1. Review of principal stresses and introduction of shear stress and normal

Stress resolved into three principal vectors at right angles to each

other 1, 2, and 3 where 1 2 3
1 is the maximum principal stress direction, 2 is the intermediate
principal stress direction, and 3 is the minimum principal stress
We also define the differential stress (d) as (1 - 3)
The confining pressure is defined as 2 = 3 under compressive
stress and 2 = 1 under tensile stress
Lithostatic stress as static stress generated by mass of overlying
Lithostatic stress for a 1-m2 area = Gh
= density of the overlying rocks
G = acceleration due to gravity
h = thickness of column of overlying rocks
For any plane with strike parallel with 2, stress is resolved into 2

Shear stress (s), acting parallel with the plane


Normal stress (n), acting perpendicular to the plane

The stress components are related by:


s = (1 - 3)sin(2)


n = (1 + 3) - (1 - 3)cos(2)

where is the angle between the plane and 1

2. Mohr diagram for stress

Relationship between 1, 3, s, and n is plotted graphically in

Cartesian coordinates where the y-axis = s and the x-axis = n, 1,
3, and d
The mohr circle for stress is a circle with diameter = d plotted on the
mohr diagram with its center on the n-axis at a point = (1 + 3)
3. For any plane with strike parallel with 2: s and n can be found using a
graphical construction if we know 1, 3, and
Plot a line from the center of the mohr circle to the edge of the circle
so that the line is at an angle 2 (clockwise) from the x-axis. By
definition, the length of this line = d
The intersection of this line with the circle defines a point whos ycoordinate = s and whos x-coordinate = n on the plane
4. Coulombs failure criterion:
On a Mohr diagram, every homogeneous material has a
characteristic failure envelope for brittle shear fracturing
Combinations of s and n that plot outside of the envelope will result
in fracture. Those inside the envelope are stable.
Failure envelopes are derived experimentally. Rock samples are
placed in a piston rig with 1 > 2 = 3 (compressive stress) or 3 < 2
= 1 (tensile stress). 1 is increased, or 3 is decreased until the
sample fractures. Then, the sample is removed, the angle is
measured, and the results are plotted on a Mohr diagram. Hundreds
of these experiments will define the Coulomb failure envelope.
Describe this graphically on the board
Failure envelopes are parabolic in tensile stress and straight lines in
compressive stress
Under compressive stress, the failure envelope at any point is defined
by the Coulomb law of failure
c = 0 + tan()n

c = the critical shear stress, or the shear stress at failure

0 = the cohesive strength, or the s value on the failure envelope
where n = 0 (where failure envelope crosses the y-axis)
= the angle of internal friction. = 90-2
Tan() is known as the coefficient of internal friction
Most rocks have an angle of internal friction 30. Therefore, at
failure is also 30, even though s is greatest when = 45.
Can use the mohr circle and the Coulomb failure envelope to
determine if a given state of stress is stable for a given rock type
Describe this graphically on the board
5. Byerlees law and slip on pre-existing fractures
Pre-existing fractures have no cohesive strength. In other
words, 0 = 0
Failure envelopes for pre-existing fractures (envelope of sliding
friction) are also derived experimentally using same methodology
used to define Coulomb failure envelopes. Describe this
graphically on the board
Except: the envelope of sliding friction is almost the same for every
rock type.
The angle of sliding friction (f) is the angle between the failure
envelope and the x-axis
a. For low confining pressures, f 40
b. For medium-to-high confining pressures, f 35
Sliding envelope is described by Byerlees Law: c = tan(f)n
Can use the mohr circle and Byerlees failure envelope to determine if
a given state of stress is stable for a given fracture orientation ()
Describe this graphically on the board
6. Effect of pore-fluid pressure on stress regime

Pore-fluid pressure (Pf) effectively reduces the stress equally in all

We define the effective stresses (1eff, 2eff, and 3eff) as:
1eff = 1 - Pf
2eff = 2 - Pf
3eff = 3 - Pf
Note that 1eff - 3eff = 1 - 3 so that pore fluid pressure does not
change the differential stress, it only lowers the confining pressure
Increased pore fluid pressure moves the Mohr circle to the right,
closer to the failure envelopes.