Microscopic properties have a marked influence on the macroscopic mechanical response of sandstones. Improved understanding of the mechanical behaviour of these rocks caused by their microscopic properties is imperative for the successful design of rock structures. Here we experimentally investigate the damage evolution and deformation behaviour of three types of sandstones from Australia with contrasting petrographic properties under dry and saturated conditions with the aid of an optical strain and deformation measurement system (ARAMIS camera). More accurate and representative strain measurements are obtained using ARAMIS camera images compared to conventional strain measurement techniques. The results revealed that the quartz content of sandstone alone is not indicative of its strength, as the sandstone with the highest quartz content showed the lowest strength and this was attributed to the superior influence of other microscopic properties, such as grain size and porosity. However, the quartz content displayed a significant influence on the water-weakening behaviour of the sandstones, where the sandstone with the greatest quartz content was least affected by saturation and the sandstones with considerable clay mineral content showed greater weakening due to water. It was also found that some clay minerals are susceptible to swelling in the presence of water, and this can increase the initial crack volume and affect deformation characteristics. ARAMIS camera images clearly illustrated a more brittle behaviour by the sandstone with the greatest quartz content and notable early deformation by the sandstones with greater clay mineral content. Moreover, it was found that the overall deformation of sandstones was influenced by the swelling capacity of the constituent clay minerals, in addition to their composition by percentage.
- Damage evolution
- Microscopic properties
- Sandstone mechanical behaviour