Numerical Simulation of Fracture Initiation in Barre Granite using an Experimentally Validated XFEM Model
Fracturing in brittle rocks with an existing crack results in the development of a significant nonlinear region surrounding the crack tip called the fracture process zone. Various experimental and numerical studies have shown that the crack tip parameters such as the crack tip opening displacement (CTOD) and the fracture energy are critically important in characterizing the fracture process zone. In this study, numerical simulations of rock specimens with a center notch subjected to three-point bending were conducted using the extended finite element method (XFEM) along with the cohesive zone model (CZM) to account for fracture process zone. The input parameters of CZM such as the elastic and critical crack opening displacements were first estimated based on the results of three-point bending tests on the center notched Barre granite specimens. Displacements were measured using the two dimensional digital image correlation technique and used to characterize the evolution of the fracture process zone and estimate the parameters of the cohesive zone model. The results from the numerical simulations showed that CZM provided a good agreement with experimental data as it predicted all three stages of cracking from fracture process initiation to macro-crack growth.