In rocks or rock-like materials, the constituents, e.g. quartz, calcite and biotite, as well as the microdefects have considerably different mechanical properties that make such materials heterogeneous at different degrees. The failure of materials subjected to external loads is a cracking process accompanied with stress redistribution due to material heterogeneity. However, the latter cannot be observed from the experiments in laboratory directly. In this study, the cracking and stress features during uniaxial compression process are numerically studied based on a presented approach. A plastic strain dependent strength model is implemented into the continuous numerical tool—Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continua in three Dimensions (FLAC3D
), and the Gaussian statistical function is adopted to depict the heterogeneity of mechanical parameters including elastic modulus, friction angle, cohesion and tensile strength. The mean parameter μ and the coefficient of variance (hcv
, the ratio of mean parameter to standard deviation) in the function are used to define the mean value and heterogeneity degree of the parameters, respectively. The results show that this numerical approach can perfectly capture the general features of brittle materials including fracturing process, AE events as well as stress-strain curves. Furthermore, the local stress disturbance is analyzed and the crack initiation stress threshold is identified based on the AE events process and stress-strain curves. It is shown that the stress concentration always appears in the undamaged elements near the boundary of damaged sites. The peak stress and crack initiation stress are both heterogeneity dependent, i.e., a linear relation exists between the two stress thresholds and hcv
. The range of hcv
is suggested as 0.12 to 0.21 for most rocks. The stress concentration degree is represented by a stress concentration factor and found also heterogeneity dominant. Finally, it is found that there exists a consistent tendency between the local stress difference and the AE events process.
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