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Evolutionary Analysis of Heterogeneous Granite Microcracks Based on Digital Image Processing in Grain-Block Model

Liu, Guanlin; Chen, Youliang; Du, Xi; Wang, Suran; Fernández-Steeger, Tomás Manuel

Rocks are natural materials with a heterogeneous microstructure, and the heterogeneity of the microstructure plays a crucial role in the evolution of microcracks during the compression process. A numerical model of a rock with a heterogeneous structure under compression is developed by digital image processing techniques and the discrete element method. On the grain scale, the damage mechanism and microcrack characteristics of a heterogeneous Biotite granite under compression fracture are investigated. First, the process of constructing a digital image-based heterogeneous grain model is described. The microscopic characteristics of geometric heterogeneity, elastic heterogeneity, and contact heterogeneity are all considered in the numerical model. Then, the model is calibrated according to the macroscopic properties of biotite granite obtained in the laboratory, and the numerically simulated microcrack cracking processes and damage modes are obtained with a high degree of agreement compared to the experiments. Numerical simulations have shown the following: (1) Microcracking occurs first at the weak side of the grain boundaries, and the appearance of intragranular shear cracks indicates that the rock has reached its peak strength. (2) The stress concentration caused by the heterogeneity of the microstructure is an essential factor that causes rock cracks and induces rupture. Intragranular cracks occur successively in quartz, feldspar (plagioclase), and biotite, with far more intragranular cracks in quartz and feldspar (plagioclase) than in biotite. (3) Microcracking in quartz occurs as clusters, fork and fracture features, and in feldspar (plagioclase) it tends to cause penetration microcracking, which usually surrounds or terminates at the biotite. (4) As the confining pressure increases, the tensile break between the grains is suppressed and the number of shear cracks increases. At the macro level, the rock failure mode of the numerical model changes from split damage to shear destruction, which is consistent with the law shown in laboratory experiments.
Published in: Materials, 10.3390/ma15051941, MDPI