3D Observations of Fracturing in Rock-Backfill Composite Specimens Under Triaxial Loading

Xin Yu, John Kemeny, Jialuo Li, Weidong Song, Yuye Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The method of backfill in underground mining is important for ground control as well as material recycling and energy efficiency. Even though extensive testing and field studies of backfill have been conducted, less is known about the detailed damage and fracturing that occurs directly at the rock/backfill interface. In this paper, cylindrical specimens containing an inner diameter of backfill and an outer diameter of rock (RB) were tested under triaxial compression. Acoustic emissions (AE) were used throughout testing, and X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning was conducted before loading was applied and after the specimens had failed. The high-resolution CT images were then converted into point clouds to isolate the fractures and visualize them in three dimensions. The point clouds clearly show that fracturing occurred both in the rock and along with the contact between rock and backfill, while very little fracturing was found to occur in the backfill. Based on the point cloud and AE results, a unique evolution of fracturing is found to occur that includes two stages of shear fracturing in the rock, tensile fracturing along with the rock/backfill interface, and final tensile fracturing in the rock after delamination from the backfill, all of which contributed to the nonlinear stress–strain response. This paper presents a novel approach for investigating the initiation and propagation of 3D fractures in laboratory testing and can offer a useful reference for further studies on the mechanics of bi-material structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6009-6022
Number of pages14
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Acoustic emission
  • CT scan
  • Cloud point
  • Rock-backfill composite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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