Based on digital image correlation (DIC) method and self-developed code, the global strain field changing and failure properties of rock-like materials with pre-existing double flaws are experimentally studied under uniaxial compression. By theoretical analysis with linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM), the strain approach proves to be practicable to investigate cracking process. Thus, two types of process zone are defined to discuss the specimen's coalescence evolution at different loading stages. Crack initiation, propagation, and coalescence is a process of zone development and nucleation. DIC strain field results are studied on a meso-level using a strain approach. In the shear coalescence mode, the SPZ (shear process zone) in a bridge area coalesces with each other, while the TPZ (tensile process zone) grows independently. In general, the paper tries to establish the link between microscopic mechanical mechanisms and macroscopic mechanical responses in flawed rock. Further research should be done to study the cracking process and its effect on rock strength in detail by the DIC method.
Natural rock contains discontinuities including pores, fractures, inclusions or other defects. The existence of these discontinuities in the rock can decrease the strength and stiffness of the rock and they are a source of initiation of new discontinuities which may in turn propagate and link with other cracks and further decrease the strength and the stiffness of the rock (Sagong & Bobet, 2002). Lots of theoretical, experimental and numerical researches have been done in studying crack initiation, propagation and coalescence in rocks (Hoek & Bieniawski, 1965; Kranz, 1983; Reyes & Einstein, 1991; Park & Bobet, 2009; Gonçalves & Einstein, 2013). But when it comes to multiple pre-flaws, the issue that how the preexisting flaws affect each other becomes complicated and uncertain. The stress field around the tips of flaw can either enhance the impact of single flaw or weaken it. According to the observations have been done before, it is found that the way and function in which these cracks propagate and coalescence depends on the geometric arrangements (Bobet, 1997; Bobet & Einstein, 1998; Wong & Chau, 2001).