A thermo-mechanical damage model for rock stiffness during anisotropic crack opening and closure

Cheng Zhu, Chloé Arson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A thermodynamic framework is proposed to couple the effect of mechanical stress and temperature on crack opening and closure in rocks. The model is based on continuum damage mechanics, with damage defined as the second-order crack density tensor. The free energy of the damaged rock is expressed as a function of deformation, temperature, and damage. The damage criterion captures mode I crack propagation, the reduction in toughness due to heating, and the increase in energy release rate with cumulated damage. Crack closure is modeled through unilateral effects produced on rock stiffness. The model was calibrated and verified against published experimental data. Thermo-mechanical crack opening (resp. closure) was studied by simulating a triaxial compression test (resp. uniaxial extension test), including a thermal loading phase. The degradation of stiffness due to tensile stress and recovery of stiffness induced by both mechanical and thermo-mechanical unilateral effects are well captured. The thermo-mechanical energy release rate increases with thermal dilation and also decreases with ambient temperature. It was observed that there is a temperature threshold, below which the rock behaves elastically. A parametric study also showed that the model can capture hardening and softening during thermo-mechanical closure (for specific sets of parameters). These numerical observations may guide the choice of rock material used in geotechnical design, especially for nuclear waste disposals or compressed-air storage facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-867
Number of pages21
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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