Standard Historical Last Updated: Nov 05, 2012
ASTM D4554-02(2006)

Standard Test Method for In Situ Determination of Direct Shear Strength of Rock Discontinuities

Significance and Use

Because of scale effects, there is no simple method of predicting the in situ shear strength of a rock discontinuity from the results of laboratory tests on small specimens; in situ tests on large specimens are the most reliable means.

Results can be employed in stability analysis of rock engineering problems, for example, in studies of slopes, underground openings, and dam foundations. In applying the test results, the pore water pressure conditions and the possibility of progressive failure must be assessed for the design case, as they may differ from the test conditions.

Tests on intact rock (free from planes of weakness) are usually accomplished using laboratory triaxial testing. Intact rock can, however, be tested in situ in direct shear if the rock is weak and if the specimen block encapsulation is sufficiently strong.

Note 1—The quality of the result produced by this standard is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the criteria of Practice D 3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of this standard are cautioned that compliance with Practice D 3740 does not in itself assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D 3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.


1.1 This test method covers the measurement of peak and residual direct shear strength of in situ rock discontinuities as a function of stress normal to the sheared plane. This sheared plane is usually a significant discontinuity which may or may not be filled with gouge or soil-like material.

1.2 The measured shear properties are affected by scale factors. The severity of the effect of these factors must be assessed and applied to the specific problems on an individual basis.

1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.

This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.08
Developed by Subcommittee: D18.12
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/D4554-02R06
ICS Code: 93.020