Stability of Slopes in Discontinuously Jointed Rock

Tharp, T. M.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1984
Attempts to analyze the stability of slopes, foundations and underground openings in discontinuously jointed rock have generally assumed full joint continuity or ignored the role of stress concentration at the tips of discontinuous joints. The most common approach in rock slopes is to consider a failure plane consisting of coplanar, but discontinuous joints separated by intact rock. The intact rock is assumed to fail in shear as a MohrCoulomb material and to contribute a strength component proportional to the fraction of the failure plane that is intact rock (Jennings, 1970). An alternative approach by Stimpson (1978) applies Lajtai's (1969) theory for shear strength of discontinuously jointed rock masses to slopes. Lajtai allows tensile failure in the intact rock of a composite surface. This theory yields lower shear strength than that of Jennings (1970) except in the presence of high normal compression, however it also fails to account for the stress concentration at the tip of a discontinuous joint. For a given slope geometry, stresses increase with slope height, but in both of these models rock mass strength is independent of size. A fracture mechanics analysis shows that particularly for small slopes, rock mass strength decreases with size.A continuous stepped failure surface produced by propagation of preexisting joints may develop at lower shear stress than pre¬dicted by the Jennings (1970) or Lajtai (1969) models. This fracture mechanics model applied to slopes in competent rock is more realistic in its assumed failure mechanism, and for large slopes more conservative than the Jennings (1970) or Lajtai models (1969).
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