Small-scale Experiments for Blast-induced Damage: Exploring crack propagation through Digital Image Correlation

Abstract: Blasting plays a crucial role in several engineering applications, from mining and tunneling to demolition projects. One of the remaining challenges of this process is that it can significantly affect the integrity of the rock mass by inducing damage in the form of cracks. Broadening the understanding of the behavior of the blast-induced cracks is essential for predicting the damage. One way of investigating this issue is through small-scale blasting experiments focused on crack propagation behavior.Controlled blasting experiments were conducted on rock-like cylindrical samples charged with Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) cords. Different blast designs were tested and a method for integrating a Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique in the analysis was developed. The DIC system was composed of an Ultra High-Speed Camera (UHSC), a light system, and a data acquisition system. The setup was tested in a laboratory and underwent different calibrations before implementing it in the mine, where using explosives during the tests is allowed. The UHSC captured the blasting process regarding crack propagation. To analyze the development of the cracks, DIC technique was employed and results in terms of displacement versus time were measured from the sample surface.The described experiments integrate a novel analysis approach to the results from the DIC technique and propose a way of interpreting the outcomes regarding crack development in terms of velocity. While developing the methodology, the pre-processing of the data (UHSC images) was shown to enhance the DIC analysis and affect the further post-processing of the results. The presented methodology proposes a human-independent procedure of analysis that can help to differentiate the displacement of the crack along its time. Nevertheless, a visual analysis of the results was performed to complement the results and try to broaden the understanding of the crack development process.The DIC results indicated a nonconstant crack propagation velocity while the development patterns were interpreted to match previous literature. The experimental studies confirmed the radial propagation behavior surrounding the blasthole in the single borehole test, while the two borehole configurations show to influence the crack propagation direction and interconnection.This work describes small-scale experiments that provide meaningful insights in crack propagation and how the different blast design parameters can affect their development. The findings of this study could be useful as an input of a predictive tool to assess blast-induced crack initiation and development.

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