Discontinuum Mechanics of linear rock masses

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Discontinuum Mechanics is based on two foundations: the idealization of the internal structure of substances, and the principle of the arithmetic mean value. For a linear discontinuum, the methods of Crystallography are used to describe their structure, in which nodes stands for the position of the homologous points such as molecules, grains, or any other motif. The principle of the mean value states that the value of any discrete function at a node is equal to the arithmetic average of the values of this function at the neighboring nodes. This principle leads to an elliptical linear differential equation of the second order, with coefficients given by the statistical second moments of the Cartesian components of the metric vector. As long as those coefficients are components of a symmetric second-order tensor, there are three mutually perpendicular directions, in which the variances reach their extreme values and the covariances are zero, showing that the mean value principle transforms the discontinuum into a statistically equivalent orthotropic continuum. The application of Discontinuum Mechanics to linear rock masses is simple and direct. It is sufficient to define the motif as the plane of geological discontinuity, and the metric vector as the normal vector to this plane, whose magnitude is the spacing between two consecutive planes belonging to the same set of discontinuities. Furthermore, heterogeneities of rock masses can be also included in this description by substituting the plane of discontinuity by a zone of weakness. In this way, the magnitude of the normal vector results from the product of the spacing and the RQD or the RMR. In going further in this theory, at least three conclusions show up. First, in the evaluation of rock masses, it is necessary to determine the orientation, spacing, and RMR for each set of discontinuities. Second, the conventional method of finding the principal families from the contours of equal concentration of poles on the stereographic projection excluding the spacing does not have any physical meaning. Third, any problem of rock mechanics can be solved in a rigorous and reliable way by integrating the differential equation of the mean value.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Editors Hassani, Hadjigeorgiou, Archibald
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781926872254
StatePublished - 2015
Event13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 10 May 201513 May 2015

Publication series

Name13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Volume2015- MAY


Conference13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy & Petroleum and ISRM.


  • Discontinuum Mechanics
  • Elliptical equation
  • Mean value principle
  • RMR
  • RQD
  • Statistics moments


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