Damage evolution of rock-encased-backfill structure under stepwise cyclic triaxial loading

Xin Yu, Yuye Tan, Weidong Song, John Kemeny, Shengwen Qi, Bowen Zheng, Songfeng Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rock-encased-backfill (RB) structures are common in underground mining, for example in the cut-and-fill and stoping methods. To understand the effects of cyclic excavation and blasting activities on the damage of these RB structures, a series of triaxial stepwise-increasing-amplitude cyclic loading experiments was conducted with cylindrical RB specimens (rock on outside, backfill on inside) with different volume fractions of rock (VF = 0.48, 0.61, 0.73, and 0.84), confining pressures (0, 6, 9, and 12 MPa), and cyclic loading rates (200, 300, 400, and 500 N/s). The damage evolution and meso-crack formation during the cyclic tests were analyzed with results from stress-strain hysteresis loops, acoustic emission events, and post-failure X-ray 3D fracture morphology. The results showed significant differences between cyclic and monotonic loadings of RB specimens, particularly with regard to the generation of shear microcracks, the development of stress memory and strain hardening, and the contact forces and associated friction that develops along the rock-backfill interface. One important finding is that as a function of the number of cycles, the elastic strain increases linearly and the dissipated energy increases exponentially. Also, compared with monotonic loading, the cyclic strain hardening characteristics are more sensitive to rising confining pressures during the initial compaction stage. Another finding is that compared with monotonic loading, more shear microcracks are generated during every reloading stage, but these microcracks tend to be dispersed and lessen the likelihood of large shear fracture formation. The transition from elastic to plastic behavior varies depending on the parameters of each test (confinement, volume fraction, and cyclic rate), and an interesting finding was that the transformation to plastic behavior is significantly lower under the conditions of 0.73 rock volume fraction, 400 N/s cyclic loading rate, and 9 MPa confinement. All the findings have important practical implications on the ability of backfill to support underground excavations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-615
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • 3D visualization
  • Damage evolution
  • Rock and backfill
  • Triaxial cyclic loading
  • Volume fraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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