Applicability of existing models to predict the behavior of replicas of natural fractures of welded tuff under different boundary conditions

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Assessing the shear behavior of intact rock and rock fractures is an important issue in the design of a potential nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Cyclic direct shear experiments were conducted on replicas of three natural fractures and a laboratory-developed tensile fracture of welded tuff. The tests were carried out under constant normal loads or constant normal stiffnesses with different initial normal load levels. Each test consisted of five cycles of forward and reverse shear motion. In this paper, the results of the constant normal load shear experiments are analyzed using several constitutive models proposed in the rock mechanics literature for joint shear strength, dilatancy, and joint surface damage. It is shown that some of the existing models have limitations. New constitutive models are proposed and are included in a mathematical analysis tool that can be used to predict joint behavior under various boundary conditions. © Rapid Science Ltd. 1998

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