Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Weinong Chen

Committee Member 1

William A. Crossley

Committee Member 2

Michael Sangid


Geo-materials are commonly used and sought after for blast mitigation applications due to their wide availability and low cost compared to industry trademarked materials. Characterization of these natural geo-materials such as volcanic rocks is of paramount importance in determining their blast mitigation capabilities. While there is a large amount of information available for materials such as concrete or sand blasts, information on the properties of volcanic rocks is far more scarce. This lack of data is due to the wide range of existing natural volcanic rocks and the variation in the minerals and pore structures of the rocks.

In this thesis, silicate volcanic rock samples are characterized both through static and dynamic experimental methods. Initial X-ray powder diffraction scans have been conducted and analyzed to obtain the mineral composition information of the rock samples. Additional tomographic scans under quasi-static loading have been recorded to better understand the internal composition of the material pore structure and the material fracture.

For this study, standard compression experiments were conducted at two separate strain rates for ten samples each on a UTM test frame to characterize the behavior of the rock under quasi-static conditions. High strain rate uniaxial compression tests were conducted for three strain rates using a split-Hopkinson pressure bar with pulse shaping to determine the dynamic response of the material. The stress-strain data from the experiments was used to determine the modulus of toughness of the material. Due to the high porosity and heterogeneity of the material, 25 samples were used for dynamic experimentation to attempt to capture and minimize the effects of scatter in the natural material.

High speed photography was used to capture the sample deformation during two separate strain rates and to visualize crack propagation and strain rate in the samples. It was found that after an initial yielding, the material is able to withstand a sustained loading which is desirable for materials used in blast loading applications. Another desirable trait that was observed in this material is that higher strain rates provide a higher sustained stress value. Further dynamic experiments on the rock with larger strains are necessary to completely compare the energy absorption capabilities of the material at high strain rates.