• Halite;
  • Grain boundary sliding;
  • Crystal plasticity;
  • Digital image correlation


[1] There is a renewed interest in the study of the rheology of halite since salt cavities are considered for waste repositories or energy storage. This research benefits from the development of observation techniques at the microscale, which allow precise characterizations of microstructures, deformation mechanisms, and strain fields. These techniques are applied to uniaxial compression tests on synthetic halite done with a classical press and with a specific rig implemented in a scanning electron microscope. Digital images of the surface of the sample have been recorded at several loading stages. Surface markers allow the measurement of displacements by means of digital image correlation techniques. Global and local strain fields may then be computed using ad hoc data processing. Analysis of these results provides a measure of strain heterogeneity at various scales, an estimate of the size of the representative volume element, and most importantly an identification of the deformation mechanisms, namely crystal slip plasticity and grain boundary sliding, which are shown to be in a complex local interaction. Indeed, the applied macroscopic loading gives rise locally to complex stress states owing to relative crystallographic orientations, density and orientation of interfaces, and local deformation history. We have quantitatively estimated the relative importance of crystal slip plasticity and grain boundary sliding for different microstructures and evidenced their dependence on grain size. The two mechanisms of deformation and their link to the microstructure should thus be considered when modeling polycrystalline viscoplasticity.