Properties of Rocks for Engineering and Construction Purposes
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In the nature there are so many types of rocks are available which are used in construction and engineering purposes. But when it comes to usage all of them having different properties and parameters. Mainly for engineering purposes rocks need to be classified.
In 1974 Z.T.Bieniawski proposed the Geomechanics classification system of rocks based on the Rock Mass Rating (RMR) value of rock.
The Rock Mass Rating (RMR) value depends upon the rock quality and its value vary from 0 to 100. The RMR is derived from 6 parameters given below.
Strength of rock
Drill core quality
Ground water conditions
Orientation of joints
Compressive Strength of rock:
The RMR value depends up on the unconfined compressive strength (qu) of the rock and it can be determined from laboratory compression test on a prepared rock specimen. Or otherwise find out the approximate value of compression strength from point load test on intact pieces of drill core. Use the following equation to find qu.
qu = 25 Is
Where Is = point load strength.
The following table gives RMR value of rock depending upon the point load strength (Is) and unconfined strength (qu). The increments vary from 15 to 0.
Point load index (Is) (MPa)
Unconfined compressive strength (qu) (MPa)
Rock mass rating increments
When RMR value increment is less than 3 (for last 3 rows), then do not use this rock for engineering purposes.
Drill core quality:
The drill core quality is related to rock quality designation (RQD) which is expressed in terms of %. The RQD of a rock is determined from the percentage recovery of core in lengths greater than 10 cm for NX cores (57.2 mm diameter). And for other types, the percentage recovery is determined in lengths greater than twice the corresponding diameter.
The RMR value for drill core quality depend upon the RQD value is shown in below table. The increment vary from 20 to 3.
Spacing of joints should also decides the rock mass rating value. The rating increment should also reflects the joint set which is most critical for a particular application. If the rock mass has fewer sets of joints, the rock mass rating is increased.
The below table will gives the rating increment for different joint spacing’s (m) and the increments may vary from 30 to 5.
Joint spacing (m)
Along with the joint spacing, the characteristics of joints are also influence the RMR increment value. That is the condition of a joint set which is most critical for a particular application should be considered for the rating. And RMR for joint characteristics also depends upon the roughness of the joint.
Below table gives the rating increments depending upon the joint characteristics and these vary from 25 to 0.
Very rough surfaces of limited extent, hard wall rock
Slightly rough surface, aperture < 1mm, hard wall rock
Slightly rough surface, aperture < 1mm, soft wall rock
Smooth surface, aperture of 1-5mm, joints extending more than several meters
Open joints filled with more than 5mm of gauge, joints extending more than several meters
Ground water conditions can influence the rock mass behavior to a large extent because of more dependency of rock condition on ground water. The rock is assigned the category dry, moist, water under moderate pressure or severe water problems and the rating increments vary from 10 to 0. If there is an exploratory adit or pilot tunnel then the RMR increment should also depends on inflow per 10m length. It also depends on joint water pressure divided by major principal stress.
Inflow per 10m tunnel length (lit/min)
Joint water pressure divided by major principal stress
Water under moderate pressure
Severe water problems
Orientation of joints:
Orientation of joints is the other parameter that considered for engineering purposes especially for specific applications in tunneling, mining and foundations. If the orientation of joints is very favorable for the work under consideration, no points are subtracted from the sum. But, if they are unfavorable, then negative ratings are to be applied which are given in the below table. The rating increments for tunnels are from 0 to 12 and for foundations 0 to 25.