Multiscale Full-Field Strain Measurements for Micromechanical Investigations of the Hydromechanical Behaviour of Clayey Rocks



Abstract:  Digital image correlation techniques (DIC) are applied to sequences of optical images of argillaceous rock samples submitted to uniaxial compression at various saturation states at both the global centimetric scale of the samples and the local scale of their composite microstructure, made of a water-sensitive clay matrix and other mineral inclusions with a typical size of 50 μm. Various scales of heterogeneities are revealed by the optical technique. Not only is it confirmed that the clay matrix deforms much more than the other mineral inclusions, but it also appears that the deformation is very inhomogeneous in the matrix, with some areas almost not deformed, while others exhibit deformation twice the average overall strain (for a gauge length of 45 μm), depending on the local distribution of the inclusions. In almost-saturated rocks, overall heterogeneities are also linked to the presence of a network of cracks, induced by the preliminary hydric load. On such wet samples, DIC analysis shows that the overall strain results both from the bulk deformation of the sound rock, with deformation levels similar to those in dry samples, and the closing or opening of these mesoscopic cracks.