Condition for the onset of bifurcation in en echelon crack arrays

Kam Tim Chau, G. S. Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Emergence and evolution of en echelon crack arrays play an essential role in the failure of geomaterials, regardless of the scale of deformation. This paper derives analytically an approximation for the critical crack size/spacing ratio at which a uniformly growing en echelon crack array yields to a non-uniform growing pattern of crack growth. Numerical results show that the critical crack size/spacing ratiocr(= a/d where a is the half crack length and d is the distance between the centres of two adjacent cracks) depends on the orientation of the crack array ø, the number of cracks N in the array, as well as the loading conditions. In general,crdecreases with N, but depends non-linearly on ø. When en echelon crack arrays are under far-field shearing along the direction of the crack array, our prediction forcris about 0.5715, comparing to the experimental observation of about 0.5. For rock joints containing en echelon cracks, the interpreted critical crack size at the onset of the alternating evolution of crack growth are 0.66 and 0.89 for ø = 26 and 6°, comparing to our predictions of 0.5695 and 0.6112, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001


  • Bifurcation
  • Crack interactions
  • En echelon crack array
  • Surface ruptures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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