Progressive Failure of Slopes and Excavations as Fracture Problems

Principal Investigator(s):

Joseph Labuz, Professor & Department Head, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


Project summary:

The objective of this research is to develop fracture models and provide experimental data that can be used to assess conditions associated with progressive failure in cohesive, frictional materials. The basis for the method involves analyzing the propagation of a fracture, where the theoretical model is an exact representation of the stresses and displacements. Novel experimental apparatus will be used to measure the fracture characteristics of propagating shear bands and spalling instability phenomena. The approach to evaluate the conditions for progressive failure is based on the use of the hypersingular boundary integral equation for a piece-wise homogeneous medium (layered systems are allowed), with features such as interfaces (joints, faults) and multiple openings (drifts, shafts). The main virtue of hypersingular integral equations is that they present a convenient means to deal with discontinuities and other discrete surfaces. Knowledge transfer is tightly integrated into the research program, where exchange and engagement with the broader geoengineering community will be accomplished through software for interactive analysis. A general K-12 education program will use the familiarity and aesthetic appeal of slopes to engage a broad spectrum of learners. Small exhibits will be designed and fabricated to demonstrate progressive failure.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2011109
  • Start date: 09/2008
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Research implementation