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Acoustic emission, microstructure, and damage model of dry and wet sandstone stressed to failure


  • Arno Zang,

  • Christian F. Wagner,

  • Georg Dresen


Twenty-three uniaxial compression tests were performed on dry and wet Flechtingen sandstone from Germany. Compressive strength of wet core is 60% of the strength of dry core. Before fracture, the transverse P wave speed drops by 13% and the pulse amplitude by 22% for wet and 37% for dry cores. Accumulated strain energy doubles for dry core. Acoustic emissions (AE) are detected with 10 sensors for 19 cores. AE activity starts at 84% of the fracture strength of wet cores (55 MPa) and at 91% of the strength of dry cores (87 MPa). The ratio of located to recorded AE is 0.37 for dry and 0.13 for fully wet cores. AE hypocenter patterns document the development of two opposite fracture cones. The negative slope of cumulative AE-amplitude frequency distribution drops by 50% before failure in dry cores. The slope of the wet core drops and recovers. Energy discrimination of AE detected by a broadband sensor resolves different stages of damage and captures the onset of the dilatant throughgoing macrofracture. Using the analogy to visible light microfracturing events are separated into high-energy short pulses (blue AE) and low-energy pulses with long duration times (red AE). Blue AE are explained by intragranular grain breakage, red AE by multiple stick slip on crack planes or grain boundaries. Deformed cores show highly fractured calcite cement and mostly intact quartz grains. The stochastic damage model for brittle composites developed highlights that microfracturing of the sandstone is controlled by the amount and distribution of the weak mineral (calcite).