Estimation of mean trace length of discontinuities

P. H.S.W. Kulatilake, T. H. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Trace lengths of discontinuities observed on finite exposures are biased due to sampling errors. These errors should be corrected in estimating mean trace length. A technique, which takes into account the sampling errors, is proposed for estimating the mean trace length on infinite, vertical sections from the observations made on finite, rectangular, vertical exposures. The method is applicable to discontinuities whose orientation is described by a probability distribution function. The method requires that the numbers of discontinuities with both ends observed, one end observed, and both ends censored be known. The lengths of observed traces and the density function of trace length are not required. The derivation assumes that midpoints of traces are uniformly distributed in the vertical plane. Also independence between trace length and orientation is assumed. Data on a Pennsylvania shale in Ohio, U. S. A., were used as an example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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