Influence of the microstructure and roughness of weakness planes on the strength anisotropy of a foliated clay-rich fault gouge



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Insúa Arévalo, Juan Miguel and Tsige Beyene, Meaza and Sánchez Roldán, Jose Luis and Rodríguez Escudero, Emilio and Martínez Díaz, José J. (2021) Influence of the microstructure and roughness of weakness planes on the strength anisotropy of a foliated clay-rich fault gouge. Engineering Geology, 289 . p. 106186. ISSN 0013-7952

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Cataclastic rocks, as clay-rich fault gouges, are commonly present in brittle rock masses when fault zones appear during geological engineering projects. Highly deformed rocks that are of poor mechanical quality can lead to technical, safety, and economic problems in rock engineering. The aim of this study is to characterise the resistant behaviour of a highly deformed clay-rich gouge >40 m wide with a marked tectonic fabric that indicates strength anisotropy. We present the results of consolidated-undrained (CU) triaxial tests that were performed at low confining pressures (50, 150, and 300 kPa) on several sets of foliated gouge specimens with four different orientations in the tectonic fabric. Specimens were collected from the encapsulated rock cores of two research boreholes drilled through the Alhama de Murcia Fault (AMF), a main regional fault located in SE Spain. The strain–stress relationships and failure modes were established, indicating that the gouge behaves as hard soil or very soft rock. The test results were adjusted at each orientation using the non-linear Hoek and Brown criteria by considering the fault gouge as an intact material or as a tectonised rockmass. Here, we use the Geological Strength Index (GSI) as an indicator of the rockmass strength that depends on the direction of the tectonic fabric.
However, the results from specimens with tectonic fabric that is oriented most favourably for failure were not the weakest in terms of rock strength. Such an anomalous result could be the result of asymmetry in the roughness of the weakness planes that is related to the original gouge microstructure characterised by the strong reorientation of clays in an S-C′ like tectonic fabric. Our results will be useful for practical applications that are related to the stability of slopes and/or shallow underground excavations in brittle fault zones, and provide an inexpensive and easy way to preliminarily evaluate the anisotropic behaviour of this type of brittle fault zones for future engineering projects.

Item Type:Article
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CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2021)

Uncontrolled Keywords:Fault gouge, Triaxial tests, Anisotropy, Hoek&Brown strength criterion, Microstructure
Subjects:Sciences > Geology
Sciences > Geology > Mineralogy
ID Code:69539
Deposited On:13 Jan 2022 09:07
Last Modified:18 Feb 2022 08:59

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