Authors: Tarasov, BG; Potvin, Y


Cite As:
Tarasov, BG & Potvin, Y 2012, 'Absolute, relative and intrinsic rock brittleness at compression', in Y Potvin (ed.), Deep Mining 2012: Proceedings of the Sixth International Seminar on Deep and High Stress Mining, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 313-324,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Many brittleness criteria have been proposed to characterise material behaviour under triaxial compression, but there is no consensus as to which criteria is the most suitable. It was shown recently that increasing σ3 can lead to contradictory intact rock behaviour within different ranges of σ3. For example, rock behaviour can be changed from Class I (ductile) to Class II (brittle) and then to Class I again, based on the Wawersik and Fairhurst (1970) classification. Brittleness in this case can vary from absolute brittleness to absolute ductility. In this paper, it is argued that only two of the many existing criteria can properly describe the variation of brittleness within a wide range of confinements. These criteria rely upon energy balance and are based on sound physics principles.

Andreev, G.E. (1995) Brittle failure of rock materials, Rotterdam, Balkema, 446 p.
Baron, L.I., Loguntsov, B.M. and Posin, I.Z. (1962) Determination of rock properties, Moscow, NTILGD, 62 p.
Batougina, I.M., Petoukhov, I.M., Vinokur, B.S., Smirnov, V.A. and Rabota, E.N. (1983) Methodological instructions for rockburst prophylaxis accounting the deposit geodynamics, Leningrad, VNIMI, 80 p.
Bergman, S.G.A. and Still, H. (1983) Rockburst problems in a 2.6 million m3 underground crude oil storage in granite, in Proceedings 5th Congress ISRM, D302-D309.
Beron, A.I., Vatolin, E.S., Koifman, M.I., Mohnachev, M.P. and Chirkov, S.E. (1983) Rock properties under different loading regimes, Moscow, Nedra 120 p.
Coates, D.F. (1966) Experimental criteria for classification of rock substances, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 3, pp. 181–189.
Cook, N.G.W. (1965) The failure of rock, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 2, pp. 389–403.
Cox, S.J.D. and Scholz, C.H. (1988) On the formation and growth of faults: an experimental study, Journal of Structural Geology, Vol. 10, pp. 413–430.
Hajiabdolmajid, V., Kaiser, P. and Martin, C.D. (2003) Mobilised strength components in brittle failure of rock, Geotechnique, Vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 327–336.
He, C., Okubo, S. and Nishimatsu, Y. (1990) A study on the class II behaviour of rock, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, Vol. 23, pp. 261–273.
Horii, H. and Nemat-Nasser, S. (1985) Compression-induced microcrack growth in brittle solids: Axial splitting and shear failure, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 90, pp. 3105–3125.
Hucka, V. and Das, B. (1974) Brittleness determination of rocks by different methods, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 11, pp. 389–392.
Kidybinski, A. (1981) Bursting liability indexes of coal, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 18, pp. 295–304.
King, G.C.P. and Sammis, C.G. (1992) The mechanisms of finite brittle strain, PAGEOPH, Vol. 138, No. 4, pp. 611–640.
Manjikov, B.T., Mansourov, V.A., Pougacheva, T.N. and Tileguenov, K.T. (1983) Laboratory estimation of rockbursting danger, SSDRRMODMA, Frounze, Ilim, pp. 106–116.
Ortlepp, W.D. (1997) Rock fracture and rockbursts. SAIMM, Johannesburg, 98 p.
Peng, S. and Johnson, A.M. (1972) Crack growth and faulting in cylindrical specimens of Chelmsford granite, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 37–86.
Petoukhov, I.M. and Linkov, A.M. (1983) Mechanics of rockburst and outburst, Moscow, Nedra, 298 p.
Reches, Z. (1999) Mechanisms of slip nucleation during earthquakes, EPSL, Vol. 170, pp. 475–486.
Reches, Z. and Lockner, D.A. (1994) Nucleation and growth of faults in brittle rocks, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 99, No. B9, pp. 18159–18173.
Recommendation (1998) Recommendation for determining the total Mohr strength envelope and deformability for rock Leningrad, VNIMI, 102 p.
Stavrogin, A.N. and Protossenia, A.G. (1985) Rock strength and excavation stability in great depth, Moscow, Nedra, 280 p.
Tarasov, B.G. (2010) Superbrittleness of rocks at high confining pressure, in Proceedings Fifth International Seminar on Deep and High Stress Mining (Deep Mining 2010), M. Van Sint Jan and Y. Potvin (eds), 6–8 October 2010, Santiago, Chile, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 119–133.
Tarasov, B.G. (2011) Universal scale of brittleness for rocks failed at compression, in Proceedings 13th International Conference of the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics, pp. 669–673.
Tarasov, B.G. and Randolph, M.F. (2011) Superbrittleness of rocks and earthquake activity, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 48, pp. 888–898.
Van Aswegen, G. (2008) Ortlepp shears – dynamic brittle shears of South African Gold Mines, in Proceedings First Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium (SHIRMS), Y. Potvin, J. Carter, A. Dyskin and R. Jeffrey (eds), Vol. 2 – Fundamental and Petroleum, 16–19 September 2009, Perth, Australia, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 111–119.
Vardoulakis, I. (1984) Rock bursting as a surface instability phenomenon, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 21, pp. 137–144.
Walsh, J.B. and Brace, W.F. (1964) A fracture criterion for brittle anisotropic rock, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 69, pp. 3449–3456.
Wawersik, W.R. and Fairhurst, C. (1970) A study of brittle rock fracture in laboratory compression experiments, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Vol. 7, pp. 561–575.

© Copyright 2023, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to