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Experimental observations and statistical modelling of crack propagation dynamics in limestone by acoustic emission analysis during freezing and thawing
  • Julian Murton,
  • Vikram Maji
Julian Murton
University of Sussex

Corresponding Author:j.b.murton@sussex.ac.uk

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Vikram Maji
IIT Kanpur
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The timing and location of microcracking events, their propagation and coalescence to form macrocracks, and their development by tension, shearing or mixed modes are little known but essential to understanding the fracture of intact rock by freezing and thawing. The aims of the present study are to investigate the mechanisms and transition of micro- and macrocracking during repeated freeze–thaw, and to develop a statistical model of crack propagation that assesses the distance and angular relationship of neighbouring cracking events arranged in their temporal order of occurrence. Eight acoustic emission (AE) sensors mounted on a 300 mm cubic block of chalk captured the three-dimensional locations of microcracking events in their temporal order of occurrence during 16 seasonal freeze‒thaw cycles simulating an active layer above permafrost. AE events occurred mostly during thawing periods (45%) and freeze-to-thaw transitions (37%) rather than during freezing periods (9%) and thaw-to-freeze transitions (8%), suggesting that most AE (microcrack) events were driven by the process of ice segregation rather than volumetric expansion. The outcomes of a novel statistical model of crack propagation based on two boundary conditions—inside–out and outside–in modes of cracking—were assessed based on Bayes’ theorem by testing the hypothesis that the inside–out mode of cracking was favoured by tensional activity, whereas the outside–in mode supported by shearing events. In both situations, the hypothesis accounted for 54–73% confidence level. The microcrack propagation model can distinguish reasonably between cracks formed by volumetric expansion and ice segregation.