This paper reports the main results of an experimental study on the mechanics of intensely fissured natural clays, extending our previous studies on scaly clay from Santa Croce di Magliano. While previous work focused on the influence of the orientation of fissures with respect to the loading direction, the present investigation specifically explores an additional, important variable: the stress level. The combined effect of fissure orientation and confining pressure was studied by setting up a large campaign of plane strain compression experiments, in which different combinations of these two variables were tested. Conventional global stress–strain measurements were complemented by measuring displacement and strain fields through two-dimensional digital image correlation. Such rich information provided a clear and consistent picture of the interplay between fissure orientation and stress level and revealed complex deformation patterns, which cannot be ignored for a proper interpretation of the material response.
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