Influence of water content and shear rate on the mechanical behavior of soil-rock mixtures
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Soil-rock mixtures (S-RMs) are widely distributed in the nature. The mesoscopic deformation and failure mechanisms as well as the macro-mechanical behaviors of the S-RMs depend largely upon the rate of deformation, water content and particle sizes. In this research, a series of large-scale direct shear tests with different water contents and different grain-size distributions were conducted to study the influence of the aforementioned factors on the mechanical properties of the S-RMs. Due to the effect of the rock blocks’ breakage in the S-RMs, the relationship between the shear strength and the vertical stress of S-RM follows a power law instead of a linear one. It is found that there exists a threshold value for the vertical stress during the shearing process, below which the soil strength is mainly determined by the inter-locking of particles and the re-arrangement of meso-structure, and otherwise large-sized rock blocks are gradually broken into smaller fragments, resulting in a decrease in the soil strength. The shear rate can also significantly influence the degree of particle breakage and the meso-structural rearrangement of the S-RMs, namely, under low shear rate, the particles of the samples are fully broken resulting in enhanced macro-strength. As a result, the lower the shear rate, the higher the macroscopic strength. So under unsaturated conditions, the water content will affect the strength of the S-RMs by reducing the strength of rock blocks. As the water content increases, the soil strength decreases gradually, and assumes a moderate value when the water content reaches 8%. At the same water content, the soil strength increases with the sizes of large rock blocks. For the occlusion, breakage and structure re-arrangement of the oversized rock blocks inside S-RM, which have a huge influence on the mechanical characteristics of the samples.
Keywordssoil-rock mixture (S-RM) direct shear test water content shear rate particle breakage
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