Measuring thermally-induced rock block displacement inside a controlled climate laboratory

D. Bakun Mazor, Y. H. Hatzor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A new model for thermally-induced block displacement in discontinuous rock slopes is being explored inside a Controlled Climate Laboratory (CCL). The model is based on a hypothesized wedging mechanism that takes place inside the filled tension crack of a discrete block that rests on an inclined plane. Irreversible block sliding is assumed to develop in response to climatic thermal fluctuations and consequent contraction and expansion of the sliding block material. While an analytical expression for this model is already available, we are exploring the possibility of obtaining such a permanent, thermally-induced, rock block displacement, under fully controlled conditions in the laboratory, to enable effective analysis of the sensitivity of the mechanism to geometry, mechanical properties, and temperature fluctuations. A large scale (approximately 0.5 m3 in volume) model consisting of four blocks has been installed in the CCL. The CCL permits accurate control of atmospheric temperature (±0.5 °C) from 6 °C to 45 °C. Harmonic temperature function is planned in advance and is controlled by a computer program throughout the experiment process. The minimum length of the temperature cyclic period for thermally-induced block displacement is calculated here based on the existing analytical model. Due to the fact that this experiment is still in progress, preliminary results will be available in the next few months. The obtained results may explain sudden triggering of rock slope failures that are not correlated with common failure triggers such as seismic activities, pore pressure build-up, or freezing and thawing of water inside rock joints.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Editors Hassani, Hadjigeorgiou, Archibald
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781926872254
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Event13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 10 May 201513 May 2015


Conference13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015


  • Controlled climate laboratory
  • Coupled thermo-mechanical response
  • Rock slope stability
  • Wedging mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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