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

ISBN90 5410 552 6

of directsheartestsonrockjoints
S. R. Hencher
of EarthSciences,
of Leecls,UK

ABSTRACT: The originsof shear strengthare reviewedin the context of direct sheartesting of rock
discontinuities.A methodof analysingdata to correctfor dilationover differentincrements of horizontal
displacement throughouta test is demonstrated and variousformsof presenting data are discussed.It is
arguedthat the correctedstrengthenvelopefor the testas a wholecanbe usedto deriveappropriate lower
boundstrengthparametersfor design.Additionalstrengthmay be allowableto accountfor roughnessat the
field scale,but as an alternativeapproach,it is recommended that the dilation-corrected
strengthbe used
directlyfor designwith a lowerfactorof safetyon shearstrength thanwouldnormallybe adopted.

1 INTRODUCTION variabilitywouldbe expectedfor naturallyrough

The shearstrengthof naturalrock discontinuities It is apparentthat currentlymanygeotechnical
is oftendiffic•t to predictlargelybecause
of their engineersconsiderdirect shear tests on rock
roughness.In addition, different mineralshave discontinuities
to be of limiteduse for providing
di•rent frictionalproperties;furthermoreh'trillor reliable design parameters. A proced•e for
weathering can influence all other parameters analysingand interpretingtest results which
includingthe effectiveroughness.The problems accountsfor sample-variable
roughnessso that the
are compoundedby the apparenteffectsof scale data can be used with confidence is described in
and normal stress level. thispaper.
One optionis to carryout directsheartestson
small samples even though it is generally
recognisedthat thesemay be unrepresentative of 2 ORIGINS OF SHEAR STRENGTH
the discontinuities
in the field, particularlywith
respectto roughness.The recommendedmethods 2.1 Shearstrengthmodels
for testingpublished by ISRM (Brown, 1978) and
by CANMET (Oyenge& Herget,1977)emphasise The mostgenerallyaccepted modelsfor rockshear
the importance of careful monitoring of strengthappropriateto civil engineeringor mining
displacement data as well as loads,but give litfie conditions arethoseof L•ri_•rtyi& Archambault
guidance on interpretation
of results. (1970) andBartonandco-workers(asreviewed
Reporteddirectsheartestdatatendto showthe by Barton& Bandis,1990andBandis,1993).
samegeneraltrendsof increasingshearstrength Boththeories taketheshearstrength of a planar
with increasingroughness,especiallyat low surfaceasa lowerboundthenaddcomponents of
normalstresslevels,but often little consistency in strengthdueto dilationor to damageof asperities.
the results achieved. Even for tests on artificial In Bartons modelthelowerboundplanarsurface
planarsurfaces,consistentresultsare not always strengthis definedastheresidualshearstrength,
obtainedand requireskill for interpretation.
For q•r,or basicfrictionangle,•. Theauthors
example,Nicholson(1994) reporteda variationin that this value can be determined from tests on
frictionangleof 12.5degrees
for saw-cutsamples flat,saw-cut andsandblastedsurfaces throughthe
of the samesandstonetestedby four different parentrock.Fromliterature survey,typicalvalues
laboratories.He commentedthat even greater for •r aregivenas30ø4-5ø (30ø4. 1.5øaccording

& Bandis,
1990).Thestrength 1989). Furthermorethis correctiondoesnot allow
contribution from roughness is estimatedwith for freshsurfaces whichhavea highnaturalpolish
referenceto a seriesof joint roughness profiles or surfaceswhichhavea low frictioncoatingboth
(JRC)modifiedac, co•g to rockwail strength of whichmayhavepeakshearstrengths far lower
andstresslevel.Over twentyyears,thecriterion than• aspreviouslydefined.
hasbeenrevisedseveraltimes,mostimportantlyto A conceptual problemwiththeempirical
incorporate effectsof scaleonJRCandrockwall approach is thatByerlee(1985)notesthat,whilst
strength (JCS)andalsoto makeit clearthatit may theshearstrength of rockjointsat low stresses is
be appropriate to allowfor additionalfield extremelyvariable(dueto variableroughness), at
roughness onceJRC hasbeencorrected for scale. higherstresses, wheretheeffectof roughness is
Many recentpaperson rockshearhave assumed to be essentially
concentrated on testingtheJRCconceptor on frictionalandthatfor themajorityof rocksthe
waysof betterdefiningJRC(seefor example frictioncoefficientis 0.85 (40.4ø) for normal
Hsiunget al. 1993;Kulatilakeet al., 1994;Odling, stresses
below200 Mpa. Bartonsequationpredicts
1994).Very little attentionhasbeengivento the thatshearstrengthshouldapproach •r (about10
'basic'frictioncomponent. degreesless)asthenormalstresslevel approaches
In themethodof analysisof sheartestdatafor thecompressive strength
of thewail rock.
naturaljoints,presented below,theeffectsof
external work due to dilation are corrected for. It
shouldbe emphasised
thatthedilation-corrected 2.2 Physicaloriginsof shearstrength
frictional resistance thus determined is not the
of •r in Bartonsempiricalcriterionas Fundamental workon thephysicaloriginsof rock
suggestedby Bandis(1993). frictionincludesthatof Byerlee(1967),Engelder
Oneof thepotentialproblems withtheempirical & Scholz(1976),Ohnaka(1975) andmanyothers.
approachis thatengineersmay assume thatthe A veryuseful,recentreviewfroma fundamental
"basic" or "residual" friction determined from a viewpointispresented by Scholz(1990).
sawcut,sand-blasted surfaceor following The componentsof shear strength are
considerable sheardisplacement of a naturaljoint represented schematically
in Table 1 anddiscussed
is a uniqueparameterfor a particularrockor rock brieflybelow:
joint.Moreimportantly, theymayalsowrongly 1. The lowerboundstrengthfor anydiscontinuity
assumethatthatvalueis thelowestpossible throughrock is probablyderivedfrom chemical
strengthfor the rocktype. andphysicalbondswhichare continually formed
It is well established
thatthe shearstrengthof and brokenduring shearover the true area of
planarsurfacesthroughthe samerockcanbe quite contactasoriginallyproposedby Terzhagi(1925)
variabledepending uponsurfacefinish(Coulson, and establishedexperimentallyfor metals by
1971).Frictionanglesmuchlower thanthosefor Bowden & Tabor (1964). It has not yet been
typicalsaw-cutandsandblastedsurfaces canbe confirmedthat the adhesional theoryof frictionis
measured fromartificiallypolishedsurfaces entirelyappropriateto rocks(Boitnottet al., 199'2)
(Byerlee,1967)or followinglongdisplacements butfor manyrocksit is clearthatthelower-bound
andthe removalof debris(Fiericher,1976). frictionalstrength
is likelyto be of the orderof ten
Similarly,measured shearstrengths for natural degrees. Certainly values this low can be
jointscanbe muchlowerthanfor a sawcut approached
for artificiallyor naturallypolished
surfacethroughthe samerock.Datareportedby rock surfaces.
Richards(1975)indicatingfrictionanglesaslow 2. Additionalfrictionalstrengthat a texturalscale
as 12øfor weatheredsandstones werenotedby is derivedfrom the interactionof minorasperities
Barton& Choubey(1977)whosuggested thata which are deformedand damagedlocally during
correction factorcouldbe appliedto •r when shear without causingdilation of the whole
dealingwith weatheredrocks.This is doneby discontinuity(by definition). In the case of a
usingtheratio of the Schmidthammerrebound typical test on saw-cut surfacesfor which a
value for a weathered surface to that of a fresh friction angle of 30 degreesis measured,it is
surface.In practice,weathered
rockjointscan estimatedthat perhaps2/3 of shearresistance is
thantheirless due to surfacetextural damageand deformation
(Hencher& Richards, processes. Surfaces whichhaveevenrougher

Table1 Factors
to theshearstrensth
of rockdiscontinuities
1. ADttESION (lower boundfriction)
normalload-• - Bondingovertrueareaof contact(At, Az)
ß proportionalto normalload
ß doesnotcausedilation(by definition)
ß no reductionwithdispl•ent
ß samefor differenttexturalsurfaces


(additionalfriction) - Surfacetexturecomponent
N1 N2 ß proportional
to normalload
ß does not cause dilation
ß generallydecreases
with displacement due to damage
andtheproductionof debris
ß increases
with roughersurfacetexture

- Work donedueto dilationor compression

ß uphillslidingleadsto an increasein measuredstrength

and vice versa
ß purelygeometricaleffect
ß decreaseswith increasingnormalload and decreasing
wall rockstrength

of rockbridges

ß notproportionalto normalload
ß independentof dilation
ß lostafterpeakstrength

surfacetexturesthanproduced by a diamondsaw, 1990; Kutter & Otto, 1990; Hencheret al., 1993;
yet still haveplanarmorphologies, will give even Papaliangaset al., 1994). From experienceof
higherstrengths withoutdilating. testingnaturaldiscontinuities,
this contributionto
3. Wherea discontinuity
is roughat a coarser' shearstrength
is essentially
scale,additionalstrengthis derivedfrom work to normalload)andinseparablefromcomponent 2
done by overridinglarge asperities(dilation)and above. Nevertheless the detailed interaction of
thiscanbe accounted for by carefulmeasurement largeasperities
in any situationwill be complex
andanalysisasdiscussed later.Work is alsodone anddependupongeometry(and thusscale)and
in deformingor damagingthose same large asperitystrengthrelativeto stresslevel much in
asperities which cause dilation and this the ways envisagedby Ladanyi & Archambault
contributionis a matterof somedebate(Barton, (1970)andBanon& Choubey (1977).

4. True cohesionresultsfrom the shearingof 5 e
intact rock bridges or healed sections of
discontinuities but will not be considered here;
discussion will instead concentrate on continuous
fractures.Lockingof steepasperitiescanalsogive
500 st;zess-4
riseto a true cohesivestrengthinvolvingsheafing
of the asperities,the work involvednot being
250 1
represented as an equivalentdilationangle(as is
the case for asperity deformationand damage ent 0
duringtheoverridingof asperities,factor3.).
No accountwill be givenof the specialproblems
0 5
associated with infilledjoints.
hozizonta]. displa½smsnc,
In practice,thereare two stagesin determining
shear strengthfor design. Firstly, the friction
available at a textural scale needs to be determined Figure1 Measureddatafrom a directsheartest
(factors 1 & 2 above). This dependsupon the on a naturaldiscontinuity
finishand mineralogyof the naturalsurfacesand
may be higheror lower thanfor saw-cutsurfaces
throughthe parentrock. Secondly,someaccount work done throughoutthe test. After correction,
can be taken of the strength contributedby the underlyingfrictionalresistanceof effectively
roughness interaction andirapersistence
(factors3 planarsurfacesof naturaltextureand mineralogy
& 4 above)at the field scale. is revealed.


The importance of roughness to shearstrengthat Hencherand Richards(1989) discussprocedures

therelativelylow stresses of mostcivil engineering for shear testing at the laboratoryscale. The
situationsis clear. Samplesfrom the samerock importance of careful description and
typeor evenfrom the samediscontinuity but with documentation to the interpretation
of resultsis
different roughnesswill exhibit cliff•t shear emphnsised. Shearstress,horizontaldisplacement
strengthbehaviour.Furthermorethe effective and verticaldisplacementshouldbe measuredat
roughness of a singlesamplewill be directional
so the sametimes throughoutthe test. These raw
that differentstrengthswill be measuredfor the data can be plotted as suggestedby ISRM
samesampledependinguponthe way the sample (Brown,1978)andshownin fig.1.
is setup (Huang& Doong,1990).For thisreason Incrementaldilationangleslendingto eachshear
a singleparameteror set of parameters cannotbe stress measurement can be calculated from the
expectedadequately to representtheroughness of relationship:
a specificsample.
FollowingPattons(1966) appraisalof shear i= tlM¾
15v/Sh 1
strength at relatively low stress levels as
comprising a "basic"frictionangletogetherwith a where:
dilationangle,manyresearchers havefoundthat,if i is theangleof dilationor compression,
and5v is
corrections are madefor dilationat peakstrength, the increment of verticaldisplncement
(generallyby simply taking away a measured lineof normalloadingovera selected incrementof
dilationanglefrom the peakfrictionangle)thena horizontaldisplacement, õh. The incrementof
lessscatteredshearstrengthenvelopeis produced. horizontaldisplacement over which to measure
Suchan approachhas beenemployedby various dilationmust be selectedwith due regard to the
authorsincludingRoss-Brown& Walton (1976) necessarydetail of analysisand the potential
and is recommended by CANMET (Gyenge&
Herget, 1977). The methodof analysisdiscussed errors.
increments ismeasured
• relatively
of displacement, large
belowemploysthe sameprinciplebut corrections are reduced,but a lessdetailedpictureof shear
are made in an incremental fashion for volumetric behaviouris obtained.Thiscanleadto significant

Quartz syenite dilation --
calculated over 0.18mm steps

(r2'0.98) •
• ß
r•-.• m

400 • m
t (#60)

2OO i, , • . m ß m ' m ' m ' • ' m

•/•0 •' [] measured peaks i 2 3 4 5 6
•/ ß dilation-corrected •o•al stIess, MPa
0 .... o, s,aw
-•u• ,
200 4oo 600 800 1o0o
•bUsh•, mc• • s•.• •m
nomal stress, kPa for v•o• r•, co•md for •afion.

Figure2 Peakandcorrectedpeakstrengths for clearlyessentially

frictional.For comparison,data
for from saw cut surfacesare includedin this figure
with • = 28ø.In 1982a largerockslidetookplace
throughthe samerock on a discontinuity dipping
at only21 degreesin • conditions.This could
differencesin interpretation,
particularlyin the only be understoodfollowinga seriesof direct
case of discontinuitiesundergoing strong sheartestswhichrevealedthat friction anglesas
volumetricchanges,and shouldbe investigated low as 19 degreeswere typical of some of the
In practice,
experienceshowsthat, natural discontinuities involved in the failure at the
for a systemmeasuring to an accuracy of about stress levels involved. This case illustrates the
ß0.005 ram,analysisoverhorizontal displacement importance of careful testing to engineering
incrementsof about 0.2 rnm generallygives practice.
reasonablysmoothdilationcurveswhilstretaining Peak strengthdata for a variety of rocks
mostof the detail.The work directlyattributable including granites, sandstone and siltstone
to dilation or contraction can then be corrected for
presented by Barton& Bakhtar(1987) andKutter
byresolving thestresses
withrespectto theactual (1974) areplottedin fig.3. Correctionshavebeen
planeof slidingbyusingthefollowingequalions: made for dilation angles, either as reported
directly,or measured
frompublished graphs.It can
duringdilation: be seen that the corrected data define a friction
% = (xcosi- o•nO c•i 2
angle of about 40ø quite clearly. The same,
o•- (ocosi+ x•u] •i 3 dilation-corrected,
friction angle is commonly
measuredat low stresslevels(say < 3 MPa) for
duringcontraction: manynaturaldiscontinuitiesthroughsilicaterecks,
%= (xcosi+ osin/)cos/ 4 which do not have particularlytightly matching
Oc- (ocosi - xsinOcos/ 5 surfacesand which are not especiallysmoothor
coated with low friction minerals. It is also of
interestthat this is the sameanglereportedby
ß = shearstress
horizontally, Byedee (1978) as typical of a variety of rock
o = normalstressasmeasured
vertically, discontinuities(datanotcorrected)at highstresses
%= shearstress
planeof sliding, up to 200 MPa asnotedearlier.
oc= normalstress
acrosstheactualplaneof Althoughthereis alwaysconsiderable interestin
sliding. peakstrengthbehaviourit is oftenmoreusefulto
in a number presentdata as illustratedin fig.4. Here shear
of ways.Corrections
madesolelyat peakstrength stressdata are plottedagainstnormalstresses for
are shownin figs. 2 and 3. Data from a seriesof the test as a whole, both as measured(corrected
testson a well matched,rough tensilefracture for grosscontactareachange)and correctedfor
in dilationor compression. A correctedstrength
theveryhigh, envelope is generallywell definedby the majority
(• ~ 55ø)is of dataeventhoughindividual

750 - Tensile fracture (measured) occurswhenthe dilationangleis only
quarbz syenite
about 5ø and that, by the time the maximum
dilationangleof about 15ø is reached,measured
strengthis alreadyreducing.
Thisis contraryto the
commonbeliefthat the dilatencyrate is greatestat
250 - [] runs1,2,4,6,8 peak measured strength (see for example
+ (cozzecbed) Goodman,1989) and would not be seenwithout
e zu• 9
0 (corrected)
carefulinsuumentation andanalysis.
0 250 500 750 1000

normal st=ess, kPa 5 INTERPRETATION AND USE IN

Figure4 Stresspathplotsfor a multistage
quartzsyenite. Correctedsheartest data reveal the underlying
frictional resistance detmnimA with the effect of
sample-dependent volumetricchangesremoved.
The strengthis thereforefor an effectivelyplanar
yet naturallytexturedsurface.The influencesof
mineralogy arefully represented.
The shearstrengththus determinedmight be
taken as a lower-boundstrength for design
purposes,althoughadditionalstrengthmay be
allowablefor the influenceof roughness.A field
dilationanglecanbe addedfollowingthe methods
described by Fecker& Rengers(1971) wherethe
ßmeasuredratio•-5 roughnessis characterisedby using plates of
different size to measure deviations from the mean

O0.... • .... lb .... 1•10 plane.This automatically allowsfor the effectsof

scale;the problemis thena matterof judgingover
•• •l•en• •
what scaledilationmightbe allowedas discussed
Fi• 5 She• s•ss:no• s• r• md by Richards& Cowland(1982). It shouldalways
•afion •gl• •ou•out •e •st beremembered thattheeffectivedilationanglewill
stage be that throughwhichthe centreof gravityof the
slidingmassmovesandnot the angleof inclination
of individualasperitiesat the surface of the
lie eitheraboveor belowthe bulk of datapoints.
discontinuity,even when allowanceis made for
A thirdusefulplot, whichdemonstrates detailed
their likely deformationand failure. Research
behaviour,is illustratedin fig. 5 which showsthe
reportedby Bandiset al. (1981) andconfirmedby
ratios of shearto normal stresses(measuredand
Papaliangaset al. (1994) indicates a rapid
reductionin measureddilation with length of
for a singlestageof a multistagetest on a closely
discontinuity.A possibleapproachfor design
matcheddiscontinuity. Dilation anglescalculated
therefore, is to accept the dilation-corrected
overhorizontaldisplacements of 0.18 mm arealso
strengthenvelopeas a lower bound,to ignorethe
plottedagainstdisplacement. It can be seenthat
effectsof dilation,andthento reducethe
the dilationcorrectionproducesa fairly constant
requiredfactor of safetyon shearstrengthto
ratio over the latter part of the test but that the
perhaps1.1 or 1.2 ratherthanthe valuesof 1.3 or
underlyingfriction still has a pronouncedpeak 1.4 which are often used.
even in the absence of dilation. This is due to the
interlockingof very strong m/nor asperitiesat
early stages of shear in this case. The peak 6 CONCLUSIONS
frictionalresistanceoccursat an early stagejust as
the discontinuity beginsto dilate. As the joint Direct shear tests on natural discontinuities often
dilates,so the peak causedby interlockingon a yield a wide range of shearstrengthsbasedon
textural scale is lost. Note that peak strength

ßmeasured data. This is generallydue to sample- ISRM suggested methods. p.135-137.
dependentand direction-dependent roughness. Pergamon Press.
During testing, continuaUyresolving stresses Byeflee,J.D. 1967. Theoryof frictionbasedon
relativeto the actualplaneof sliding,allowsdata brittlefracture.J Appl.Phys.38: 2928-2934.
to be plotted to reveal the underlyingshear Byeflee,J.D. 1978. Frictionof rocks.Pure Appl.
strength of an effectively planar yet natural Geophys.116:615-626
surface.This frictionangleis generallyquitewell Coulson,J.H. 1971.Shearstrengthof fiat surfaces
defined for a set of discontinuities of similar of rock. Proc. 13th Symp. on Rock Mech.,
surfacetexture and mineralcoatingand may be Illinois: 77-105.
much lower or much higher than the strength Engelder,T. & C.H. Scholz. 1976. The role of
determinedfor a saw-cut surfacethroughthe asperityindentationand ploughingin rock
parentrock. friction, 2, Influence of relative hardnessand
It is suggestedthat, for design,the corrected normal load. Ink. JI. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. &
strengthcanbe useddirectlyasa lowerboundand Geomech.Abstr., 13: 155-163.
thatin thiscaseonlya low factorof safetyneedbe Fecker,E. & N. Rengers.1971. Measurement of
adoptedfor shearstrength. largescaleroughness of rock planesby means
of a profilograph
andgeological compass.Proc.
Syrup.onRockFractureISRM, Paper1-8.
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