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  1. Monitoring the frictional behavior of rock discontinuities is essential for the identification of potential natural hazards caused by mechanical instability. Active seismic monitoring of changes in transmitted and/or reflected compressional (P) and shear (S) waves has been used as a non-destructive method to assess the degree of damage inside rock and to monitor slip along a discontinuity. The objective of this study is to explore the geophysical response of a saturated rock joint undergoing shear. Laboratory shear tests are conducted on prismatic Indiana limestone specimens. Induced tension fractures resulted in specimens composed of two blocks (152.4 mm  127.0 mm  50.8 mm) with rough contact surfaces. Direct shear experiments were performed inside a metal confinement chamber under an effective normal stress of 2 MPa on water-saturated specimens. During the experiments, the chamber pressure, the total normal load, the shear load and the slip displacement were monitored. During the tests, continuous pulses of P- and S-waves were transmitted through the specimen and the amplitudes of the transmitted and reflected waves were recorded. The paper provides results of the mechanical and geophysical response of saturated joints and compares them with those obtained from similar, but dry, joints. For dry joints, bothmore »transmitted and reflected P- and S-waves show a distinct peak wave amplitude prior to shear failure. However, for saturated joints, a distinct peak in amplitude is only observed in both transmitted and reflected S-waves. Transmitted and reflected P-waves, propagated through saturated rock, displayed a continuous decrease and increase in amplitude, respectively, but had a sudden change in the rate of amplitude change that can be taken as a seismic precursor to joint shear failure.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. The failure of rock along pre-existing discontinuities is a major concern when building structures on or in rock. A goal is to develop methodologies to identify signatures of imminent shear failure along discontinuities to enable implementation of measures to prevent the collapse of a structure. Previous studies identified precursory seismic signatures of shear failure along rock discontinuities in transmitted and reflected signals. Here, laboratory direct shear experiments were conducted on idealized saw-tooth discontinuities in gypsum to determine the differences or similarities in precursors observed in transmitted, reflected and converted elastic waves. Digital Image Correlation (DIC) was used to quantify the vertical and horizontal displacements along the discontinuity during shearing to relate the location and magnitude of slip with the measured wave amplitudes. Results from the experiments showed that seismic precursors to failure appeared as maxima in the transmitted wave amplitude and conversely as minima in the reflected amplitudes. Converted waves (S to P & P to S) were also detected and their amplitudes reached a maximum prior to shear failure. DIC results showed that slip occurred first at the top of the specimen, where the load was applied, and then progressed along the joint as the shear stress increased. Thismore »process was consistent with the precursors i.e., precursors were first recorded near the top and later at the center and finally at the bottom of the specimen. Interestingly, precursors from reflected waves were observed first, followed by precursors from transmitted and then by converted waves. Also, the differences in time of occurrence between the three precursor modes decreased along the plane of the discontinuity. The results showed that reflected waves were the most sensitive to damage and slip along a discontinuity and that monitoring for precursors may provide a method for detecting impending failure.« less