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Laboratory testing and numerical simulation of properties and thermal-induced cracking of Eibenstock granite at elevated temperatures

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The knowledge about thermo-mechanical properties of granite is still limited to some extent. Individual measurements are necessary to obtain reliable properties for specific granite types. A reliable numerical model of thermal cracking behaviours of granite exposed to extreme high temperatures (e.g. 800–1000 °C) is missing. In this study, the impact of temperature up to 1000 °C on physical, mechanical, and thermal properties as well as thermo-mechanical coupled behaviour of Eibenstock granite was investigated by laboratory testing and numerical simulations. The physical properties including mineral composition, density, P-wave velocity, and open porosity are measured to be temperature dependent. Uniaxial compression and Brazilian tests were carried out to measure uniaxial compressive strength (UCS), Young’s modulus, stress–strain relationship, and tensile strength of Eibenstock granite before and after thermal treatment, respectively. Thermal properties including specific heat, thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, and linear thermal expansion coefficient are also measured and found to be temperature dependent, especially the expansion coefficient which shows a steep increase around 573 °C as well as at 870 °C. The numerical simulation code FLAC3D was used to develop a numerical scheme to simulate the thermal-induced damage of granite at high temperatures. Statistical methods combined with real mineral composition were used to characterize the heterogeneity of granite. The numerical model is featured with reliable temperature-dependent parameters obtained from laboratory tests. It can well reproduce the laboratory results in form of thermal-induced micro- and macrocracks, as well as the stress–strain behaviour and the final failure pattern of Eibenstock granite after elevated temperatures up to 1000 °C. The simulation results also reveal that the thermal-induced microcracks are randomly distributed across the whole sample. Although most thermal-induced damages are tensile failures, shear failure begins to develop quickly after 500 °C. The obvious UCS reduction in granite due to heating is mainly caused by the increase in shear failure. The simulation also shows that the dominant impact of αβ quartz transition is widening pre-existing cracks rather than the formation of new microcracks.

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The first author would like to thank China Scholarship Council (CSC) (Grand No. 201606420069) for financial support doing research in Germany. Thanks for Mr. Wang Tongsheng in Wuhan University of Science and Technology for his help in testing the thermal conductivity.

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Correspondence to Fei Wang.

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Wang, F., Konietzky, H., Frühwirt, T. et al. Laboratory testing and numerical simulation of properties and thermal-induced cracking of Eibenstock granite at elevated temperatures. Acta Geotech. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11440-020-00926-8

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  • Granite property
  • Heterogeneity
  • Numerical simulation
  • Thermo-mechanical behaviour
  • Thermal damage