Rock fails in shearing as a tuned critical system

Demeng Che*, Weizhao Zhang, Zhiwei Zhu, Kornel F. Ehmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Shearing is the most widely exploited method to fracture and remove rock formations in many man-made rock-opening activities. During shearing, rock breaks into chips due to the periodic nucleation, propagation, and coalescence of numerous micro-cracks. The crack interactions along with the rock's complex physical properties lead to extreme challenges in reaching a consensus on the rock's failure behavior in shearing. In this paper, force-drop events, as a quantitative measure of the global rock breakage occurrence, were recorded and analyzed. A power-law distribution with a tunable cut-off between the frequency of the force-drop events and their magnitudes is shown. The obtained results, for the first time, reveal the rock's tuned critical behavior in shearing which is intrinsically similar to its failure behavior widely observed in earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Rock shearing
  • Tuned critical system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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