Numerical simulation of a jointed rock block mechanical behavior adjacent to an underground excavation and comparison with physical model test results

Xuxu Yang, Pinnaduwa Kulatilake, Hongwen Jing, Shengqi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Mechanical behavior of a jointed rock mass with non-persistent joints located adjacent to a free surface on the wall of an excavation was simulated under without and with support stress on the free surface using approximately 0.5 m cubical synthetic jointed rock blocks having 9 non-persistent joints of length 0.5 m, width 0.1 m and a certain orientation arranged in an en echelon and a symmetrical pattern using PFC<sup>3D</sup> software package. The joint orientation was changed from one block to another to study the effect of joint orientation on strength, deformability and failure modes of the jointed blocks. First the micro-mechanical parameters of the PFC<sup>3D</sup> model were calibrated using the macro mechanical properties of the synthetic intact standard cylindrical specimens and macro mechanical properties of a limited number of physical experiments performed on synthetic jointed rock blocks of approximately 0.5m cubes. Under no support stress, the synthetic jointed rock blocks exhibited the same three failure modes: (a) intact rock failure, (b) step-path failure and (c) planar failure under both physical experiments and numerical simulations for different orientations. The jointed blocks which failed under intact rock failure mode and planar or step-path failure mode produced high and low jointed block strengths, respectively. Three phases of convergence of free surface were discovered. The joint orientation and support stress played important roles on convergence magnitude. The average increment of jointed block strength turned out to be about 10, 7.9 and 6.6 times the support stress when support stresses of 0.06 MPa, 0.20 MPa and 0.40 MPa were applied, respectively. The modeling results offer some guideline in support design for underground excavations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-142
Number of pages14
JournalTunnelling and Underground Space Technology
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Jointed rock
  • Mechanical behavior
  • Non-persistent joints
  • PFC<sup>3D</sup>
  • Underground excavations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Building and Construction

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