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Mechanics of earth fissures using the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion


Earth fissures are approximately vertical cracks in the ground. They are caused by natural events such as earthquakes or by human activities such as groundwater level decline due to pumping. The latter has become a major worldwide issue in areas where groundwater is pumped for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use. Various theories, mostly conceptual, have been proposed to describe the formation of earth fissures due to groundwater level decline. Here a new theory is proposed for earth fissure formation in an unconfined aquifer based on fundamental soil mechanics principles, continuum mechanics, and fluid flow in porous media. This theory shows that the most efficient mechanism for earth fissure formation is a combination of bending and shearing. An earth fissure can form at the surface and propagate downwards or it can form beneath the surface and propagate upwards. The cause of earth fissure formation in the sediments within the aquifer differs from that of sediments above the aquifer. Earth fissures are initiated in aquifer sediments from bending and shear failure on vertical planes. Earth fissures are initiated in the sediments above the aquifer when the shear strains cause the soil to fail along vertical planes. Geological discontinuities are the preferred location for the formation of earth fissures. The findings from this model are in contrast to current conceptual models, which are based on tensile strains observed in existing earth fissures.

ISSN: 1078-7275
EISSN: 1558-9161
Coden: ENGEA9
Serial Title: Environmental & Engineering Geoscience
Serial Volume: 14
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Mechanics of earth fissures using the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion
Author(s): Budhu, Muniram
Affiliation: University of Arizona, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Tucson, AZ, United States
Pages: 281-295
Published: 200811
Text Language: English
Publisher: Association of Engineering Geologists and the Geological Society of America, College Station, TX, United States
References: 24
Accession Number: 2009-015080
Categories: Engineering geology
Document Type: Serial Map
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
N32°30'00" - N34°04'00", W113°19'60" - W111°04'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Association of Engineering Geologists and the Geological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 200909
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