Strength of massive to moderately jointed hard rock masses

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The Hoek-Brown (HB) failure criterion and the geological strength index (GSI) were developed for the estimation of rock mass strength in jointed and blocky ground where rock mass failure is dominated by sliding along open joints and rotation of rock blocks. In massive, veined and moderately jointed rock in which rock blocks cannot form without failure of intact rock, the approach to obtain HB parameters must be modified. Typical situations when these modifications are required include the design of pillars, excavation and cavern stability, strainburst potential assessment, and tunnel support in deep underground conditions (around σ 1 /σ ci > 0.15, where σ 1 is the major principal compressive stress and σ ci is the unconfined compressive strength of the homogeneous rock) in hard brittle rocks with GSI ≥ 65. In this article, the strength of massive to moderately jointed hard rock masses is investigated, and an approach is presented to estimate the rock mass strength envelope using laboratory data from uniaxial and triaxial compressive strength tests without reliance on the HB-GSI equations. The data from tests on specimens obtained from massive to moderately jointed heterogeneous (veined) rock masses are used to obtain the rock and rock mass strengths at confining stress ranges that are relevant for deep tunnelling and mining; and a methodology is presented for this purpose from laboratory data alone. By directly obtaining the equivalent HB rock mass strength envelope for massive to moderately jointed rock from laboratory tests, the HB-GSI rock mass strength estimation approach is complemented for conditions where the GSI-equations are not applicable. Guidance is also provided on how to apply the proposed approach when laboratory test data are not or not yet available.




Bewick, R. P., Kaiser, P. K., & Amann, F. (2019). Strength of massive to moderately jointed hard rock masses. Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

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