Cyclic and Fatigue Behaviour of Rock Materials: Review, Interpretation and Research Perspectives

B. Cerfontaine, F. Collin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive state of the art of fatigue and cyclic loading of natural rock materials. Papers published in the literature are classified and listed in order to ease bibliographical review, to gather data (sometimes contradictory) on classical experimental results and to analyse the main interpretation concepts. Their advantages and limitations are discussed, and perspectives for further work are highlighted. The first section summarises and defines the different experimental set-ups (type of loading, type of experiment) already applied to cyclic/fatigue investigation of rock materials. The papers are then listed based on these different definitions. Typical results are highlighted in next section. Fatigue/cyclic loading mainly results in accumulation of plastic deformation and/or damage cycle after cycle. A sample cyclically loaded at constant amplitude finally leads to failure even if the peak load is lower than its monotonic strength. This subcritical crack is due to a diffuse microfracturing and decohesion of the rock structure. The third section reviews and comments the concepts used to interpret the results. The fatigue limit and S–N curves are the most common concepts used to describe fatigue experiments. Results published from all papers are gathered into a single figure to highlight the tendency. Predicting the monotonic peak strength of a sample is found to be critical in order to compute accurate S–N curves. Finally, open questions are listed to provide a state of the art of grey areas in the understanding of fatigue mechanisms and challenges for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-414
Number of pages24
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date17 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Cyclic loading
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue strength
  • Natural Rock
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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