Comparison of Surface Properties in Natural and Artificially Generated Fractures in a Crystalline Rock

Daniel Vogler, Stuart D.C. Walsh, Peter Bayer, Florian Amann

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23 Citations (Scopus)


This work studies the roughness characteristics of fracture surfaces from a crystalline rock by analyzing differences in surface roughness between fractures of various types and sizes. We compare the surface properties of natural fractures sampled in situ and artificial (i.e., man-made) fractures created in the same source rock under laboratory conditions. The topography of the various fracture types is compared and characterized using a range of different measures of surface roughness. Both natural and artificial, and tensile and shear fractures are considered, along with the effects of specimen size on both the geometry of the fracture and its surface characterization. The analysis shows that fracture characteristics are substantially different between natural shear and artificial tensile fractures, while natural tensile fracture often spans the whole result domain of the two other fracture types. Specimen size effects are also evident, not only as scale sensitivity in the roughness metrics, but also as a by-product of the physical processes used to generate the fractures. Results from fractures generated with Brazilian tests show that fracture roughness at small scales differentiates fractures from different specimen sizes and stresses at failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2891-2909
Number of pages19
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture roughness
  • Natural fracture
  • Roughness scale effects
  • Surface topography

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