The mechanism of crack initiation and propagation is studied by using rock-like modeling material. Rectangular prismatic specimens with an oblique central crack (a pre-existing flaw) are used in the experimental study. The crack propagation process is observed in the specimens under uniaxial expression. Two types of branch cracks, i.e. wing cracks and secondary cracks are found through experiments. Then, the extended finite element method (XFEM) technique is applied to simulate the propagation of cracks in the specimens, and results obtained from the XFEM analysis are compared with the laboratory test ones.

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