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9, 1972

The Determination of Young's Modulus from the Direct

Shear Test
H , Q . Golrler mrd Associnlcs, Missi.ssnrlga, O i ~ t o r i o
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J . F. N I X O N
D q m l ~ i ~ of'
c ~Civil
l E~rgi~lao.i~lg,
UirivcwiLv o J ' A l / ~ o . l oE, t / ~ ) ~ o i ~ lAlberto
Received April 4, 1972
Accepted June 22, 1972

A method is developed for determining Young's Modulus froni a direct shear test. The finite
element method is employed to coniputc stresses in a samplc of rock subjected to direct shear. Froni
thc scsults of the analysis, the relationship bctween thc shear load, horizontal displacement and thc
Young's M o d u l ~ ~iss established for different sample geometries. T h e use of the solution is illus-
trated. Since direct shear tests arc often ~ ~ s efor
d strength testing thc ncccssity for conducting alter-
native tests to deterniinc the deforniability characteristics of a rock mass is reduced.
S L Ila~base de I'analysc, par la methodc deselements finis, des contraintes dans u n echantillon de roc
sournis <t un cisaillement direct, une mtthode de determination ~ L niodule I d'Young A partir d'un
essai de cisaillenient direct a CtC d~veloppec.Lcs relations entrc la force de cisaillenient, le deplacement
For personal use only.

horizontal e t lc module d'Young ont etc etablics pour differentes geomttries d'echantillons. L'utili-
sation de la s o l ~ ~ t i oest
n illustree dans I'article. Les cssais de cisaillenient direct i t a n t frequemment
~~tiliskspour I'Ctude de la risistancc du roc, la necessite d'avoir recours i d ' a ~ ~ t r eessais
s pour deter-
miner les caracteristiq~lesde deformation d ' ~ ~ nmasse e r o c h e ~ ~ scst
c donc reduite.
[Traduit p a r Ic journal]

Introduction Theoretical Analysis

Direct shear tests are performed on many The analysis utilizes the theory of linear
major civil engineering works involving rock elasticity to predict stresses and displacements
masses. The information derived from these tl~roughouta sample of rock i n a direct shear
tests with regard to the strength and defor- box before peak strength is reached. When a
mation properties of the rock mass is of rigid body displacement is imposed on a
particulai interest when dealing with en,'01neer- linearly elastic body as shown in Fig. 1,
ing problems concerning slide probability, tlie applied shear load T will be directly
safe foundation conditions, and structural proportional to the imposed displacement
stability in tunnels and mines. 0'. The shear load inust also be proportional
The method of determining the strength to tlie shear modulus of the sample material.
characteristics from direct shear tests is well Tlius a relationship of the following form
established. It is common ~ r a c t i c eto ~ e r f o r m holds:
jacking o r plate loading tests in conjunction
with direct shear tests to determine the
Young's Modulus, a measure of the de- where G is the shear modulus and I<' is a
formability of tlie rock mass. constant.
However, the prefailure data from a direct However,
shear test also contains information regarding
the stiffness of the rock but this is seldom used.
In the following, a method for evaluating the
Young's Modulus from the direct shear test
is presented.
and therefore
1Formerly Departnient of Civil Enginecring, University
of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. PI T = kEd
Ca~intlinnGcotcch~iicnlJournal, 9 , .iO+ ( 1 0 i l )

where E is Young's Modulus, ji is Poisson's

Ratio, li is a conslant depending on p a n d
the geometry of the test configuration. a n d
T is the shear load o n the sanlple per unit
As the possible variations in the geometry
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may be described in t e r m of the ratios

H I L and BIH, then we may write

where H is the height of the test sample,

L is the length, and B is the gap between the FIG. 1 . Sample subjected to direct shear.
upper a n d lower halves of the shear box.
Equation [3] may now be written as

If arbitrary values of E and 6 are adopted,

For personal use only.

a n d the elasticity problem is solved s~tbject

t o the correct boundary conditions, a value
of T is obtained from the solution. T h u s li
may be evaluated f r o m Eq. [5] for different
values of p, B I H and H I L .
A finite element program employing a
constant strain triangle as developed by
Wilson (1963) was used t o solve the elasticity FIG. 2. Finite element grid
problem. T h e grid is shown in Fig. 2. l'he
body is assumed to be in equilibrium with TABLEI. S ~ u n m a r y of b o u n d a ~ y condit~ons ~ ~ s eind
any normal stress which is applied vertically, finite element analys~s
--. -
a n d we need only concern ourselves with the
Boundary condition
changes in stress resulting from the rigid
body displacement at the smooth boundary s-displacement s f o r c e y-displacement )'-force
J K in Fig. 2. The surfaces A M and GH are Boundary 11 F.c v F?
assumed t o lose contact with the shear box,
AB 0 0
a n d the upper surface HJ is not constrained.
C 0 0
Along the base of the shear box A C , a smooth DE 0 0
contact is assumed between the sample a n d FH. 0 0
the box, a n d no vertical movement occurs. HJ 0 0
F o r the shear box under consideration, as the SK 6 0
LA 0 0
lower half of the shear box is not allowed t o
move, lateral displacements along the smooth
surface CE are zero (see Table 1). ed from the shear stresses along the midplane
Using these boundary conditions in a of the sample. However, this js found t o be
finite element computer program, nodal inaccurate due t o the singularities in the shear
displacements a n d the stresses in each element stress existing at the points L a n d F shown
are found. T h e program then evaluates the in Fig. 2. T h e shear load on the sample can
stresses at each nodal point by averaging be calculated most accurately by integration
the stresses in the elements adjacent to the of the normal stresses along the left hand
node. A value of the shear load T is required boundary A J , as the effects of the singularities
from the solution. T might possibly be evaluat- are less pronounced on these stresses.

Hence at s = 0,

,I 0

Where a, is the average nodal stress along

the boundary A J . Typical examples o f the
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shear stress distribution at the left hand

y given in Figs. ~ ( c I and
b o ~ ~ n d a rare ) 3(/1).
A unit width of sample is considered in the
finite element analysis, so T is the shear load
per unit width of sample. The values of 1;
are evaluated using Eq. [5], and the results
are plotted in Figs. 4. 5 and 6.

Application of Method
FIG. 3. /i v a l ~ mfor p = 0.2.
A correction t o the observed horizontal
displacement must be applied t o account for
the compliance of the direct shear apparatus.
This may be found experiinentally by placing
For personal use only.

in the shear box a sample of a very hard

material such as a high grade steel of the same
dimensions as the rock sample. T h e displace-
ment over the correct stress range due t o
compliance of the test machine may then be

FIG. 5. k values for = 0.3.
025 05 0.75 1.O


H I L = 0.5
B / H = 0 15
E = 10'0si


3000 2000 1000

FIG. 3(o) Typical shear strcss distribution.

FIG. 3(h) Typical normal stress distribution. FIG. 6. k values for p = 0.45.

T o illustrate the application of the method

described above, a sample calculation o f
Young's Modulus from test results obtained
by Noonan (1972) is given.
A sample of jointed coal 7 . 8 ~ 7 . ~8 3 . in.
thick (20 ~ 2 x 09 cnl) was tested in direct
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shear. The shear load against liorizontal

displacement curve is plotted in Fig. 7. In
this test, for the linear portion o f the curve
before peak strength was attained, tlie shear SHEAR
load per unit width from Fig. 7 is LOAD

The horizontal displacement when corrected

for compliance is
6 = 0.0433 in.
F o r this sample,
For personal use only.


FIG. 7. Shear load against horizontal displacen~ent

Young's Modulus may be calculated for
other laboratory o r field direct shear test
A reasonable value f o r Poisson's ratio is 0.30. configurations by simply altering the bound-
and from Fig. 5, ary conditions used in the finite element
analysis. Values of k may be obtained from
the solution, a n d a similar set of charts drawn
Substituting these values into Eq. (5) gives up for any test configuration.
Determination of Young's Modulus in
this manner minimizes the need for jacking
tests or plate loading tests, thus reducing the
cost of field investigations by a considerable

The authors are grateful to Professor N.
Conclusions R. Morgenstern for his guidance a n d assis-
A method for evaluating E from tlie direct tance. The support of the National Research
shear test has been given. The method has Council of Canada is also acknowledged.
been used by Noonan (1972) on disconti-
nuously fractured coal a n d has been found NOONAN,D. K. J . 1972. Fractured rock subjected to
convenient for assessing the influence of direct shear. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Alberta,
anisotropy a n d normal pressure on the stiff- Edmonton, Alberta.
WILSON, E. L. 1963. Finite elemcnt analysis of two-
ness o f tlie rock. Size effects may also be dimensional structures. SEM Report No. 63-2.
studied. University o l California, Berkeley.