Chevron notched samples achieve general acceptance for measuring the Mode-I (opening mode) fracture toughness of rocks. The cracked chevron notched semi-circular bending (CCNSCB) sample, which is developed from the International Society of Rock Mechanics suggested the cracked chevron notched Brazilian disc method, has recently received much attention. However, these chevron notched methods have not been fully mastered, some ideal assumptions based by their theories and formulas, such as the straight-through crack assumption (STCA), have not been verified detailedly. Fractures of CCNSCB specimens were numerically simulated considering different heterogeneities, geometrical and mechanical parameters. The results show that, the real fractures of CCNSCB specimens are never satisfied with the STCA. In fact, micro fractures not only occur in the notch tip but also the two chevron edges. Consequently, the crack front features prominently in a shape of parabolic curve, far from being straightthrough. Moreover, curvature of the crack front is only affected by shape of the chevron ligament. Cracks usually start from two sides of the notch tips rather than center of the notch width, and propagate deviating from the postulated fracture routes. These fracture mechanisms induce errors with the measurements, and thus more attentions should be paid to the real fractures of the chevron notched samples for measuring fracture toughness more accurately.
With the increasing requirement of people for resources and energies, frequent rock engineering activities have been conducting, such as underground excavation, oil exploration and deep burial of nuclear waste. Many problems appear in rock fracture. Consequently, there are more and more attentions paid in rock fracture mechanics due to its broad application prospects for solving these engineering problems. Since Mode-I (opening mode) fracture is the most common failure mode in rocks, Mode-I fracture toughness is a primary parameter to predict rock mechanical properties in actual engineering, and thus its accurate values are necessary to the researches of rockburst, rock mass slope stability, rock cutting, hydraulic fracturing, tunneling, et al. Therefore, it is thus significant to evaluate and study relevant methods to obtain the reliable value.
At present, there is no uniform or standard method to measure Mode-I fracture toughness of rocks under quasi-static loads, but only the International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM) has proposed four suggested methods, namely chevron bending (CB) test and short rod (SR) method (Ouchterlony, 1988), cracked chevron notched Brazilian disc (CCNBD) method (Fowell, 1995) and notched semi-circular bend (NSCB) method (Zhou et al., 2012).