Deterioration of non-persistent rock joints: a focus on impact of freeze–thaw cycles

Hang Lin, Daxing Lei, Chunshun Zhang, Yixian Wang, Yanlin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Existing research on rock freeze-thaw mainly focuses on a single freeze-thaw process, while little attention is paid to the cumulative effect of cyclic freeze-thaw on rock mass joints. However, the accumulated freeze-thaw effects are precisely the leading cause of rock mass deterioration and damage in severe cold regions. This study aims to investigate the use of a novel laboratory testing method, i.e., membrane pressure sensors in the joint, to demonstrate the impact of cyclic frost-thaw on jointed rocks. With the sensors, the change of frost-heaving pressure in the joint under cyclic process is continuously monitored. The measurements indicate that under freeze-thaw cycles, the initiation of frost-heaving pressure is critical, which is followed by an explosion, stability, and ablation stages. In these stages, the maximum frost-heaving pressure is observed to emerge at the early stage of the freeze-thaw cycle. Based on the experimental observations, frost-heaving pressure evolution law and damage mechanism of jointed rock masses are analyzed. For example, the peak frost-heaving pressure increases exponentially with the decrease of temperature and decreases exponentially with the increase of freeze-thaw cycles. Also, the pressure has a positive linear relationship with the geometric size of the joint. In essence, the deterioration of freeze-thaw cycles on jointed rock masses is mainly due to crack propagation caused by the frost-heaving pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104515
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Freeze-thaw cycle
  • Frost-heaving experiment
  • Frost-heaving pressure
  • Rock joint

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