Articles | Volume 13, issue 5
Research article
16 May 2022
Research article |  | 16 May 2022

Failure mode transition in Opalinus Clay: a hydro-mechanical and microstructural perspective

Lisa Winhausen, Kavan Khaledi, Mohammadreza Jalali, Janos L. Urai, and Florian Amann

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Subject area: Tectonic plate interactions, magma genesis, and lithosphere deformation at all scales | Editorial team: Structural geology and tectonics, paleoseismology, rock physics, experimental deformation | Discipline: Mineral and rock physics
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Cited articles

Amann, F., Button, E. A., Evans, K. F., Gischig, V. S., and Blümel, M.: Experimental Study of the Brittle Behavior of Clay shale in Rapid Unconfined Compression, Rock Mech. Rock Eng., 44, 415–430,, 2011. 
Amann, F., Kaiser, P., and Button, E. A.: Experimental Study of Brittle Behavior of Clay Shale in Rapid Triaxial Compression, Rock Mech. Rock Eng., 45, 21–33,, 2012. 
Armand, G., Leveau, F., Nussbaum, C., de La Vaissiere, R., Noiret, A., Jaeggi, D., Landrein, P., and Righini, C.: Geometry and properties of the excavation-induced fractures at the Meuse/Haute-Marne URL drifts, Rock Mech. Rock Eng., 47, 21–41,, 2014. 
Attewell, P. B. and Sandford, M. R.: Intrinsic Shear Strength of a Brittle, Anisotropic Rock – I: Experimental and Mechanical Interpretation, Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. Geom. Abstr., 11, 423–430, 1974. 
Bésuelle, P., Viggiani, G., Desrues, J., Coll, C., and Charrier, P.: A Laboratory Experimental Study of the Hydromechanical Behavior of Boom Clay, Rock Mech. Rock Eng., 47, 143–155,, 2014. 
Short summary
Triaxial compression tests at different effective stresses allow for analysing the deformation behaviour of Opalinus Clay, the potential host rock for nuclear waste in Switzerland. We conducted microstructural investigations of the deformed samples to relate the bulk hydro-mechanical behaviour to the processes on the microscale. Results show a transition from brittle- to more ductile-dominated deformation. We propose a non-linear failure envelop associated with the failure mode transition.