Study of scale effect on intact rock strength using particle flow modeling

Qi Zhang, Hehua Zhu, Lianyang Zhang, Xiaobin Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Based on the extensive review of the UCS versus specimen size test data and the various empirical relations between the UCS and the specimen size, a new expression is proposed to describe the dependence of the UCS on specimen volume. The proposed new relation can fit the UCS versus specimen size test data of different rocks very well. Then, a numerical study of the scale effect on UCS is conducted using a numerical model in which the intact rock is represented by particles bonded to each other at contact points, with the contact bonds having both normal and shear strength components. The bond can break if the normal or shear contact stress exceeds the corresponding bond strength. To simulate the initial micro-fractures (flaws or cracks) in the rock, the smooth-joint contact model is used. The fractures are considered to be randomly orientated and located disks. The size and number of fractures are described by an exponential expression derived using fractal theory. The numerical model is calibrated using the test stress-strain curves of 80. mm×40. mm×40. mm prism Yamaguchi marble samples. Then, the calibrated model is used to predict the UCS of Yamaguchi marble samples at different sizes. The predicted UCS values are in good agreement with the experimental values. The numerical simulations show that to capture the scale effect on UCS of intact rock, initial fractures with sizes increasing faster with the specimen size must be considered in the modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1320-1328
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Fractal theory
  • Particle flow modeling
  • Rock strength
  • Scale effect
  • Statistical method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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