Dynamic fracture of granular material under quasi-static loading

Amir Sagy*, Gil Cohen, Ze'ev Reches, Jay Fineberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The dynamics of rapid fracturing of heterogeneous grainy media are studied in laboratory experiments in which artificial rock slabs are fractured under uniaxial tension. By performing detailed measurements of the instantaneous fracture velocity and the fracture surface topography, we quantitatively relate fracture morphology with the dynamics of the surface formation. We show that fracture dynamics in these materials is strongly influenced by the interaction of the fracture front with material heterogeneities and by the formation of microbranches. The instantaneous fracture velocity is characterized by abrupt fluctuations, whose amplitudes increase with the average velocity and which are correlated with the surface roughness. The surfaces of the fractures display aligned grooves and ridges, which extend large distances in the propagation direction and are localized in the transverse direction. These features, interpreted as lines of aligned microbranches, are observed solely when the fracture velocity is above 0.3 of the Rayleigh wave speed. In addition, small-scale striations corresponding to fracture front waves are identified. The overall similarity between fracture dynamics in these heterogeneous materials and those in ideal amorphous materials suggests that universal processes control the dynamics. The heterogeneity of the grainy medium, however, strongly amplifies the velocity fluctuations and enhances both the deflection and segmentation of fracture fronts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberB04406
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2006


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