Fracture mechanics characterization of an anisotropic geomaterial

Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Volume 84, April 2012, Pages 111-122
F. Barpi, S. Valente, M. Cravero, G. Iabichino, C. Fidelibus

Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy

Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering, National Research Council of Italy, Torino, Italy


Argillites are considered worldwide as potential host rock for high level radioactive waste given the low permeability and strong adsorption potential. However, the excavation of the galleries of a repository would produce a disturbed zone around the boundaries rich of new fractures which may enhance the conductivity of the rock along the gallery axis.

Several mine-by experiments have been performed in underground rock labs to investigate the features of the disturbed zone. In Mont Terri URL (Kanton Jura, Switzerland) the EZ-B experiment was specifically conceived for the measurement of excavation induced fractures around a small chamber. The host rock of the URL is a particularly compact and resistant argillite, known as the Opalinus Clay (OPA) excavated and OPA samples were subjected to fracturemechanics tests at the rock mechanics lab of IGAG-CNR in Torino, Italy. The tests aimed at the understanding aspects of the fracturing process occurring in OPA of Mont Terri, which may be considered a transversely isotropic geomaterial, whose planes of isotropy coincide with the bedding.

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