Fracture energy release and size effect in borehole breakout

Zdeněk P. Bažant*, Feng‐Bao ‐B Lin, Horst Lippmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The paper presents a simple approximate analytical solution of the remote stresses that cause the collapse of a borehole or other circular cylindrical cavity in an infinite elastic space. Regions of parallel equidistant splitting cracks are assumed to form on the sides of the cavity. Their boundary is assumed to be an ellipse of a growing horizontal axis, the other axis remaining equal to the borehole diameter. The slabs of rock between the splitting cracks are assumed to buckle as slender columns, and their post‐critical stress is considered as the residual stress in the cracked rock. The buckling of these slab columns is assumed to be resisted not only by their elastic bending stiffness but also shear stresses produced on rough crack faces by relative shear displacements. The energy release from the infinite medium caused by the growth of the elliptical cracking region is evaluated according to Eschelby's theorem. This release is set equal to the energy dissipated by the formation of all the splitting cracks, which is calculated under the assumption of constant fracture energy. This yields the collapse stress as a function of the elastic moduli, fracture energy, ratio of the remote principal stresses, crack shear resistance characteristic and borehole diameter. The collapse stress as a function of crack spacing is found to have a minimum, and the correct crack spacing is determined from this minimum. For small enough diameters, the crack spacing increases as the (4/5)‐power of the borehole diameter, while for large enough diameters a constant spacing is approached. In contrast to plastic solutions, the breakout stress exhibits a size effect, such that for small enough diameters the breakout stress decreases as the (− 2/5)‐power of the borehole diameter, while for large enough diameters a constant limiting value is approached. Finally, some numerical estimates are given and the validity of various simplifying assumptions made is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials

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