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ARMA/USRMS 05-753

A PDA Field Book for Rock Mass Characterization and Classification


Vardakos, S.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Gutierrez, M.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Copyright 2005, ARMA, American Rock Mechanics Association
This paper was prepared for presentation at Alaska Rocks 2005, The 40th U.S. Symposium on Rock Mechanics (USRMS): Rock Mechanics for Energy, Mineral and Infrastructure
Development in the Northern Regions, held in Anchorage, Alaska, June 25-29, 2005.
This paper was selected for presentation by a USRMS Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted earlier by the author(s). Contents of the paper,
as presented, have not been reviewed by ARMA/USRMS and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of USRMS,
ARMA, their officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of ARMA is prohibited.
Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgement of where
and by whom the paper was presented.

ABSTRACT: Rock mass characterization and classification are significant parts in any field geological investigation involving
rock engineering problems. This process usually involves collection and recording of a sizable amount of data. Modern
technological advances have resulted into useful electronic tools such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) which are excellent in
gathering information which can be easily transported. Todays PDAs have enough computing power and accessories to compete
with portable computers of a few years ago. The present paper presents a comparative review of two of the most frequently used
rock mass classification systems, the Q system and the Geomechanics Classification and an electronic field book tool based on
PDA to aid in rock mass characterization and classification for rock engineering. The main aim is to assist the field engineer by
taking out most associated paperwork during characterization and subsequent rock mass classification, by providing a useful tool.
The PDA data acquisition tool can be used with either of the two systems, Q or RMR (and SMR) and provide a user friendly
environment for quick and safe data recording. In addition technological features such as digital photographs or GPS based
coordinate acquisition can be readily embedded in the tool if required as an option for onsite investigations.

changes and modifications by researchers to handle


different problems more efficiently, in mining,
tunneling, slopes and foundations while the Q
system has received fewer modifications mainly for
underground design applications. When both
systems are applied wisely, and with full knowledge
of their limitations, they become excellent tools in
the hands of the engineers.
Common in all the above is the ability to
efficiently and quickly record field information
when applying these methods onsite. Taking the
example of a tunnel excavation in rock, all the
preliminary design work or modification during the
excavation is based on the differentiation of the
rock mass quality in different sectors. When this
process involves the use of the observational
method then continuous data updating is paramount.
The present paper presents an electronic tool which
aims in making easier and more efficient insitu
geologic data acquisition. The tool aims in
minimizing paper based rock mass quality data
collection, based on the above two established
systems, with the ability to process the obtained
data statistically in order to conclude a general

1. INTRODUCTION
Two of the most widely used rock mass
classification systems today are the Rock Mass
Quality Index (Q System) by Barton, Lien and
Lunde [1] and the Geomechanics Classification
(RMR) by Bieniawski [2,3,4]. Both systems
received various developments and enhancements
during years, with the latest being in 1989 for the
RMR and in 1993 for the Q system. Both systems
were derived from case histories, by careful and
thorough examination of parameters contributing
most to the stability of a rock engineering work,
mainly tunnels or mines. Differences and the way of
association between the two systems have long been
the topic of research by many engineers around the
world and only some aspects of these differences
will be subsequently presented. However, it is
important to recognize that not all systems can treat
the same problem, nor quantify rock quality in the
same way. This is the reason for the wealth of
systems presented so far.
An initial observation can be made with respect
to RMR which is shown to have received various
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qualitative description for a location, based on


independent observations of the governing
parameters. Modern technological advances have
resulted into useful electronic tools such as the
personal digital assistants (PDAs) which are
excellent in gathering information which can be
easily transported. Todays PDAs have enough
computing power and accessories to compete with
portable computers of a few years ago. The reason
why this tool is developed is to assist the field
engineer in rock mass classification, by taking out
most associated paperwork, by providing a user
friendly tool.
2. DATA ACQUISITION PRINCIPLE
2.1. General
In order to construct a dedicated rock mass
classification tool, the commercially available
program Pendragon, Forms 4.0 [5] was used to
develop the tool. The software permits the
development in a personal computer environment
(PC format) of a data collection form and exporting
of that form and its corresponding executable
program to a PDA device from where data
acquisition will be made. The Form manager which
is part of the PC installed software, is in principle a
database running in Microsoft Access. The Form
manager is used to design a proprietary data
collection form in the PC using different options
and styles according to the designers preferences.
This utility is also responsible for storing the
collected data in the PC after a PC-PDA
synchronization. The Pendragon Forms conduit is
the part of the software which handles data and
forms transfer from the PDA to the PC and vice
versa. Finally, there is also the Pendragon Forms
program that is installed on a PDA running in Palm
operating system (Palm OS), and which permits
execution of the pre-designed forms.
The Pendragon software permits the user to
design proprietary forms to his needs and make a
truly unique and purpose specific tool. For this
reason the form is basically constructed by a series
of subsequent fields (similar to the principle of cells
in a spreadsheet) each identified by an
automatically generated field number or optionally
identified by a user defined field name. The form is
therefore a single file to which records are added (or
modified) each time the form is called by the PDA
Pendragon program. The principle of the data
acquisition is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Simplified schematic of PDA rock mass


classification, using Pendragon Forms 4.0.

3. Q SYSTEM CLASSIFICATION IN PDA


3.1. General
Classification using the Q system is based on core
logging but also field mapping results that are
quantified and represented statistically. Initially
introduced in 1974, the Q system received gradual
refinements and verifications, the last being in
1993. According to the Q system the rock mass
quality is designated by the index Q which is a
function of the form:
RQD J r J w
Q=

(1)
J n J a SRF

Q index varies from 0.001 for exceptionally poor


rock masses to 1000 for exceptionally good
qualities. The parameters involved in the Q system
are given as follows:

Hudson et al. [9] have also correlated RQD


with the discontinuity spacing (or equivalent
frequency), by assuming a negative exponential
distribution of spacing values:
RQD = 100 * (0.1 + 1)e 0.1 ,

RQD= Rock quality designation


Jn= joint number

Romana [10] has validated the above relationship


for RQD>50%. For 6<<16 a simplification of the
previous relationship is:

Jr=Joint roughness coefficient


Ja=joint alteration number

RQD = 3.68 * + 110.4

Jw= joint water coefficient


Barton [1] notes the parameters of the
quotient Jr/Ja must be made with respect to the
weakest of most influencing discontinuity set in a
given classified zone of rock mass. Full description
of the governing classification parameters is given
by Barton et al. [1]. Typical maxima and minima of
the relevant parameters are shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Typical minuma and maxima of Q index.
Jw/SRF Q index
0.05/2 0.001
1/0.5
>2000
(1000 typical)

The parameter RQD is the total recovery length of


core parts > 10 cm over the entire length of the
drilling. ISRM suggests drilling of a NX diameter
(54.7 mm) core with double tube barrel to avoid
disturbance. Frequently the RQD is determined for
every meter length of borehole core per rock unit.
According to Deere [6] the length is measured along
the axis of the core, by avoiding longitudinal
fractures (subparallel to the core) which may reduce
RQD. Romana [7] suggests that RQD should be
measured independently whenever significant
structural domains, weakness zones etc. are present
in the rock mass. In Norway, Palmstrom [8]
correlated RQD with the volumetric joint count Jv,
to be potentially used when no core is available:

RQD = 115 3.3 * Jv , 4.5<Jv<35

(2)

Span or height of excavation (m)


ESR

where:
Jv is the number of joints per m3.
Jv =

1
Si

(5)

Several researchers, have investigated the influence


of RQD in the rock mass classification schemes and
discuss problems associated with its use and the
RQDs sensitivity to measurement conditions,
experience of the person who classifies RQD.
According to Hack [11] typical problems in the case
of RQD are:
The limiting length of 10 cm is arbitrary
The limiting length of 10 cm is an abrupt
boundary. Hack gives a simple yet insightful
example: A core in a rock mass which includes
an ideally uniformly distributed joint spacing of
9 cm shows RQD 0% (drilled perpendicular to
the joints) while if the spacing is just above 10
cm RQD is 100%.
RQD is biased by orientation of measurement.
Some approximate corrections are available to
remove these effects.
RQD is influenced by drilling equipment, size of
equipment, handling of core, experience of the
personnel etc.
The second step in the application of the Q
index system is the quantitative estimation of a type
of support to be used depending on the ground
conditions. Figure 2 presents the latest development
by Barton et al [12,13,14] for a correlation between
Q index and suggested support system. On the
horizontal axis the Q rating is given in logarithmic
scale. On the left vertical axis a ratio expressing the
geometry of the excavation is included. This ratio
is:

SRF= strength reduction factor

RQD/Jn Jr/Ja
Min 10/20
0.5/4
Max 100/0.5 4/0.75

(4)

(6)

ESR is the Excavation Support Ratio which can be


regarded as a means to provide and include a
desired margin of safety in the support estimates
depending on the type and importance of the
structure. For most civil engineering works ESR is
usually 1.0 while use of values of less than one for

(3)

and Si is the mean discontinuity spacing in meters


for discontinuity i.

such works may lead to conservative designs and


thus higher costs.

be the framework for storing, handling and


visualizing results from rock mass classification
when working in the field, in a tunnel or simply by
examining drill core boxes. The logging chart
proposed by Barton [13], contains, a sufficient
number of cells representing observations for the
various parameters.
A similar technique to the above is the
framework for the development of an appropriate
electronic application. There are two possible ways
to perform this. The user can manually enter
numbers of observations in specified form fields,
for each possible value of a parameter. This
necessitates that a single record in the form will
handle many observations at the same time.
However due to restrictions in PDA visual
capabilities in terms of size, a not so experienced
user with the terminology behind Q, may find it
cumbersome to use such an organization in the
collecting form. On the other hand experienced
users can use this scheme immediately.

Q ROCK MASS CLASSIFICATION CHART


G

Exceptionally poor

Extremely poor

Very poor

Poor

Fair

Good

A
Very
Good

100

Bolt spacing in shotcreted area

1.7

1.5 m
1.2

20

2.5

2.3

2.1

Exc.
Good

Ext. Good

11

1.3

Span or height (m) / ESR

5
(9)

(8)

CCA

10

(7)
Sfr+B

RRS+B

(6)
Sfr+B

(5)
Sfr+

(4)

(3)

B(+S)

(2)
sb

(1)

4.0 m
Unsupported

3.0 m
2.0 m
1.5 m

2.4

Bolt length for ESR = 1.0

1.0 m

Bolt spacing in unshotcreted area

1.5

1.3 m
1.0
1
0.001

0.01

0.04

0.1

REINFORCEMENT CATEGORIES
1)Unsupported
2)Spot bolting
3)Systematic bolting
4)Systematic bolting woth 40-100 mm
unreinforced shotcrete

0.4

1
Q Rating

10

40

100

400

1000

5)Fiber reinforced shotcrete, 50-90 mm & bolting


6)Fiber reinforced shotcrete, 90-120 mm & bolting
7)Fiber reinforced shotcrete, 120-150 mm & bolting
8)Fiber reinforced shotcrete, >150 mm, reinforced
shotcrete ribs & shotcrete
9)Cast concrete lining

Figure 2: Q system chart [12]

Grimstad and Barton [15] also complement


the Q rating with an empirical correlation to past
cases, as a tool to estimate the pressure acting upon
the opening:
Proof =

2 J n Q 1 / 3
, ( MPa)
3J r

A second approach is to use an interactive


type of form which will collect many records
independently. Since the main purpose of the form
is data collection, the statistical process can take
place after downloading the collected data to a
personal computer. This type of form can assist the
user not only by virtue of a more compact and easy
to handle design, but also by dropdown, reference
lookup lists and dedicated help menus when needed.

(7)

With respect to the Q system it is interesting


that Loset [16] also notes that for tunnels where
4<Q<30 (poor to medium good conditions) and
where blasting methods are used, then damage will
result to the surrounding rock mass which
unavoidably will lower the Q rating. Specifically for
tunnels in rock excavated with an initial pilot TBM
opening and with subsequent enlargement, Loset
[16] suggests that Q index estimates from the pilot
are recorded by an added increment of Q in the
range 3-30 in relation to a drill and blast bored
tunnel. Loset [16] also reports that for the case of a
Norwegian tunnel, changes in the estimates of
support requirements based on these two methods
can be in the order of 64% to 77%.

Both the above proposed collection formats


where implemented and two distinct form designs
where developed with Pendragon Forms 4.0 and to
be used in a Palm operating system. In the
following sections, the use of the forms is
explained.
3.3. Q System Form 1: Cumulative type
This type of data acquisition form is intended for
faster use by experienced users. In this form each
record can include multiple observations for each of
the six Q system parameters. The form presents
value ranges for the parameters, and the user inputs
the number of observations for each of these value
ranges. For example for the RQD range from 60-70
the input is how many observations of this range
were encountered on a specific section of the site.
After all observations have been entered for a
parameter, the form calculates a weighted average
value of that parameter. For each parameter the
weighted rating value is:

3.2. Field data recording


Barton et al. [13] suggest a convenient way to
record and evaluate trends of the Q related
parameters, by constructing histograms of
parameter value distributions. Based on these
logging charts, it is possible to quickly estimate a
typical range of the Q index, as well as a mean
value of the rating. This system of histograms can
4

a=

r
i =1

ai

* ni

ni

(8)

i =1

where:
k = number of distinct rating classes (or ranges) for
each parameter as suggested by the Q system
reference tables

r= rating value for each parameter class


n= number of observations per class of parameter
This can be better given by an example: The RQD
parameter, which is a continuous numerical
parameter is distinguished into k=11 ranges for ease
of use: 10, 10-20, 20-30, 30-40,,90-100, 100 with
mean rating per range: rai=10, 15, 25, 35, , 95,
100. If n=4 observations were made at a location for
the range RQD=70-80, 5 observations for RQD=8090, 12 observations for RQD=90-100 and 4
observations for RQD = 100 then for that location
the mean rating calculated by the PDA is:
RQD =

Figure 3: Example of RQD data input for the cumulative Q


system acquisition form.

Hot-Sync synchronization in the Palm Operating


System, the records are automatically transferred to
the Pendragon PC database.
The collected data for a given form can be
migrated to an Excel spreadsheet easily from via the
Pendragon PC software. This step is very important
since it allows infinite updating of the database to
the same sheet in the same Excel file. With this
option data handling and manipulation towards
more advanced statistical analysis is a
straightforward procedure. For this purpose a
reference spreadsheet form was designed according
to recommendations by Barton [13] in order to
further process the obtained data. The spreadsheet
accepts multiple records and yields typical
minimum, maximum, mean and most frequent
values of Q rock mass rating per record.
We can also note that processing of the Jr
and SRF parameters in the spreadsheet does not
incorporate any optional corrections (i.e corrections
for faulting proximity in case of the SRF parameter)
and is considered as more conservative. It is advised
that in such special cases of rock mass classification
a similar secondary form be used to include such
influences independently of other records. However
for the users aid, weighted average values
calculated by the PDA tool are corrected
automatically when such options are selected from
the menus. In the later cases, when correction
options are performed, then averaging of the Q

4 * 75 + 5 * 85 + 12 * 95 + 4 *100
= 90.6
4 + 5 + 12 + 4

Similarly mean ratings for all other parameters are


obtained. At this point it is worthwhile noting that
some parameters of the Q system have the same
rating for under different conditions. For example
the parameter Jr has the same value of 1.5 for
slickensided undulating surfaces but also for rough
or irregular and planar rock joint surfaces. This
characterization information is essentially filtered
out during the statistical overall classification
process. In these cases only the numerical rating is
retained and is important for the overall
classification
and
not
the
independent
characterizations. The above database structure
allows for quick entering of all the parameters while
at the end the PDA form, calculations are made for
an overall weighted average of the Q rating value as
a first approximation. It is also important to note
that the user can navigate back and forth while
entering the data for any changes he/she wishes to
perform. An example of data entry is presented in
Figure 3 for the RQD input.
After the data have been collected by using
the handheld form, then the information can be
transferred to the personal computer can be made
via the Pendragon Manager capabilities. During a
5

ratings from many records can be made based on


the users judgment.
The user may also input data for the span
and height of the excavation, as well as the
Excavation Support Ratio, by a drop-down list of
the worksite type and intended use. Along with
ESR, an average intact rock strength can be used for
elastic moduli correlations. Barton [13] has
suggested the following correlations for stiffness
estimates:
25 * log Q, Q > 1
Emass =
1
10 * Qc 3 ,
Q 1

means of dropdown lists and help menus for any


parameter involved in the classification. The form
sheets are shown in Figure 5. For this type of data
collection, the Q value is calculated at the end of the
process for each record entry independently.

(9)

where Qc is the normalized Q index:


Qc=Q*(c/100), and c the uniaxial compressive
strength of the rock mass.
When these are input, then the equivalent
span or height is calculated and the results of the
four Q index estimates, per record are plotted in the
Q System chart as shown in Figure 4. Based on the
Q system method, an estimate of the necessary
permanent support for the tunnel can be made using
the suggested nine support categories from the plot.
The application is predominantly used for civil
engineering works, while for mining engineering
applications, advancements to the Q index, taking
into account the joint orientation, but using entirely
different support schemes, may be employed
(Matthews [17], Milne et al [18]).
Q ROCK MASS CLASSIFICATION CHART
Exceptionally poor

Extremely poor

Very poor

Poor

Fair

Very
Good

Good

100

Exc.
Good

Ext. Good

20

Figure 5: Data entry menus for the Q system independent


record collection form.

11

5
(9)
10

CCA

(8)
RRS+B

(7)
Sfr+B

(6)
Sfr+B

(5)

(4)

Sfr+B

B(+S)

(3)
B

(2)

(1)

sb

Unsupported

2.4

Bolt length for ESR = 1.0

Span or height (m) / ESR

A similar spreadsheet was constructed to


handle and process data collected from the handheld
device. After synchronization, the user selects to
export the downloaded database to the reference
spreadsheet. It is noted that the user may alter the
name of the file as he wants. In this case, the
spreadsheet statistically processes all the records
(maximum number of records is limited to 100, but
changes can be made by the user) and yields typical
minimum, maximum, mean and most frequent
values of the Q rating. Similarly to the previous
case, optional corrections are not taken into account
in this case, clusters of data for such special cases
may be treated independently using another similar
form. Directly calculated Q values from the PDA,
are, however, corrected automatically. After

1.5

1
0.001

0.01

0.04

0.1

0.4

10

40

100

400

1000

Q Rating

Figure 4: Example results from the statistical analysis of two


locations are plotted in the Q chart immediately for viewing
(example shown for two tunnels of different span)

3.4. Q System Form 2: Independent record


collection form
The main advantage of this form is efficient
calculation as well as a completely interactive
system to aid in the rock mass classification by
6

processing, all the governing parameters are plotted


in corresponding histrograms that show the trends
of the rock mass. Parameters to be plotted in
histograms are grouped so that RQD and Jn, Jr and
Ja, Jw and SRF are plotted closely. This is due to
the fact that the ratio RQD/Jn is a measure of block
size, the Jr/Ja is a measure of frictional strength of
the rock mass, and the ratio Jw/SRF is a measure of
active stress in the rock mass. Examples of such
plots are shown in Figures 6, 7 and 8.

V. POOR

POOR

FAIR

GOOD

HIGH PRESSURES

WET

DRY

0.33

0.66

18
16

A
C
T
I
V
E

Frequencies

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
0.05

0.1

0.2

0.5

S
T
R
E
S
S
E
S

Frequencies

Joint water

As previously the user may also enter data


for the size of the excavation, and select the
excavation support ratio (for the intended use of the
project) and the uncorrected data are automatically
plotted in the Q system chart from where estimates
of the support system can be made (Figure 9).
20

EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH INFLOWS

20

SQUEEZING

20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
20

15

10

SWELLING

20

15

10

FAULTING

10

7.5

STRESS / STRENGTH

2.5 400 200 100 50

20

10

0.5

2.5

Stress Reduction Factor

Figure 8: Calculated histograms of Jw and SRF.

Q ROCK MASS CLASSIFICATION CHART

EXC.

18

Exceptionally poor

Extremely poor

Very poor

Poor

Fair

Very
Good

Good

100

16

Exc.
Good

Ext. Good

20

Frequencies

14
12
10

11

8
6

Span or height (m) / ESR

4
2
0
10

10 - 20

20 - 30

30 - 40

40 - 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

70 - 80

80 - 90

90 - 100

100

RQD Ranges

S
I
Z
E
S

EARTH

Frequencies

20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

FOUR

THREE

TWO

ONE

NONE

Sfr+B

Sfr+B

(5)

(4)

Sfr+B

B(+S)

(3)
B

(2)

(1)

sb

Unsupported

2.4

1.5

Q freq.

1
0.001
15

12

6
4
Joint Set Number

FILLS

PLANAR

UNDULATING

10
8
6
4
2
0
1,5
1,5
Joint Roughness Number

THICK FILLS

20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
20

13

12

10

THIN FILLS

12

COATED

UNFILLED

0.4

10

40

100

400

1000

4.1. General
The Geomechanics classification was developed in
the United States by Bieniawski [2,3,4]. By 1989
around 350 case histories had been the basis of the
system development. As also recognized by
Bieniawski [3], the system benefited from
extensions and modifications by various
researchers, and such developments allowed the
system to adapt to various engineering applications.
The parameters used by the Geomechanics
classification are:
The uniaxial compressive strength or the
point load strength of the intact rock
material.
The rock quality designation.
The spacing of the discontinuities.

12

0.1

4. GEOMECHANICS CLASSIFICATION
SYSTEM APPLICATION IN PDA

DISCONT.

14

0.5

0.04

Figure 9: Statistically processed data representation in the Q


system chart for the independent record collection form.

16

0.01

Q Rating

0,5

18

Frequencies

RRS+B

(6)

Q min.

20

Frequencies

CCA

(7)

Q max.

Figure 6: Calculated histograms of RQD and Jn.

S
T
R
E
N
G
T
H

10

(8)

Q mean

20

S
H
E
A
R

5
(9)

Bolt length for ESR = 1.0

B
L
O
C
K

HEAL

0,75

Joint Alteration Number

Figure 7: Calculated histograms of Jr and Ja.

Procedures to incorporate the effects of stress


conditions mainly in mining applications have been
presented by Laubscher [23] and Kendorski [24].
Bieniaski [3] suggests the independent collection of
parameter ratings typically for four discontinuity
sets when using the RMR on site and then
processing of the results, in contrast to the Q system
which accounts for the most influencing set of
discontinuities. In the next chapter a Pendragon
form designed to collect data for the most
influencing discontinuity is shown.
The RMR system, however, recognizes the
importance of discontinuity orientation relative to
the geotechnical work. The Q system does not
incorporate this, and only a recommendation is
given by Barton to estimate the Ja and Jr
parameters, based on the most influencing
discontinuity set. The lack of this parameter was
recognized by Matthews ([17] and Potvin [25] who
modified the Q system (Q) and proposed stability
chart based methods that are highly popular
empirical mining engineering design aids today. In
the following, guidelines proposed by Romana [7,
10, 19] for the application of the Geomechanics
Classification to slopes, is presented. Bieniawski [3]
notes that general experience has shown that RMR
tends to be conservative and may lead to overdesign
of support systems in mines and tunnels.

The condition of the discontinuities


(persistence, aperture, roughness, filling,
weathering).
The groundwater conditions.
The orientation of the discontinuities.
The intended work type.

Rating values per parameter are given by


Bieniawski and will not be repeated herein. The
rock mass is characterized by its RMR value, which
is located in one of the following classification
ranges:
Table 2: General description of RMR classes.
Class
I
Number
RMR
81-100
Description Very good
rock

II
61-80
Good
rock

III

IV

41-60 21-40
<21
Fair
Poor
Very
rock
rock poor rock

When applied to underground engineering


applications, the RMR final rating is used to
estimate the average standup time and the
maximum unsupported excavation span by using a
chart plot suggested by Bieniawski [3].
4.2. Basic differences between the RMR and the Q
system
Some of the differences between the two of the
most popular rating systems described herein, have
been discussed by various researchers. From the
above, some principal observations can be made
with respect to the use of the two systems. The
Geomechanics classification is a system relatively
able to adapt to various worksite conditions, and
yield a rating estimate, either for underground
application, slopes [19, 20] or rock foundations [21,
22]. The Q System has shown to be excellent tool in
characterizing rock masses and since 1974 it has
formed the basis of the Norwegian approach to
underground excavation design. It must also be
acknowledged that the spacing ratings for the RMR
system have been based on the assumption of three
discontinuity sets. Bieniawski has recognized that
when the system is applied in rock masses
possessing a fewer number of sets, then a
conservative estimate is obtained. When such
condition occurs it is proposed to increase the rating
for the discontinuity spacing by 30%.
Furthermore, the initial RMR system does
not incorporate a stress strength condition factor
as the Q system does, while it uses the intact rock
strength only, which is also used by the Qc concept.

4.3. The SMR system


A significant contribution to the RMR was
performed by Romana [7, 10, 19, 20] who proposed
correction factors when applying the Geomechanics
Classification to rock slopes. This extension of the
RMR also known as Slope Mass Rating (SMR) is a
very useful tool for slope stability preliminary
assessments. The SMR rating is obtained from the
basic RMR rating value using the following
formula:

SMR = RMR + ( F1* F 2 * F 3) + F 4

(10)

where F1, F2, F3 and F4 are the correction factors


for slopes. F1 expresses the vectorial relation
between the slope and joint set in terms of their dip.
Ranges from 1.00 when both are almost parallel to
0.15 when the angle between them is more than 30
deg and probability of failure is low. F2 takes into
account the joint dip angle when examining a planar
mode of failure. It varies from 1.00 for joints with
dip>45 deg, to as low as 0.15 for joints with dip <20
deg. F3 is a factor in order to take into account the
8

relationship between the joint and the slope dip


angle. It is basically associated with the
daylighting requirements of the joint. The factor
F4 takes into account the method of excavation of
the slope. Discontinuity orientation ratings for the
factors of the SMR system and data acquisition
processes in order to apply the SMR system have
been proposed by Romana [20].

2 RMR 100, RMR > 50 ( Bieniawski,1978)

E (GPa) = RMR10
10 40 ,
RMR 50 ( Serafim & Pereira,1983)

4.4. Data entry for the Geomechanics


Classification in the PDA
Examples of data entry for this form are given in
Figure 10. Depending upon the type of project,
(tunnels, foundations or slopes), different
subsequent field cells appear in the form and the
user can enter appropriate information regarding the
orientation of the discontinuities. With respect to
subsequent parameters for rock slope classification,
the required parameters apply to the SMR system.
According to Bieniawski [3] spatial properties of
the most influencing joint set for the structure
should be the basis of this classification stage.

(10)

Figure 11: Final output for RMR data acquisition form.

When the project is a tunnel or mining


development, the next form window will present an
estimate for the average standup time and the
support load (kN). Additionally the PDA tool
recommends a primary support system based on the
RMR rating on simplified assumptions about the
tunnel geometry. If the project is a rock slope then
the form guides the user to the slope results screen,
where the anticipated slope stability description, the
potential failure mode and the average cohesion
(kPa) and friction of the rock mass are given. The
recommended slope support or remediation method
is also given (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Final results for RMR PDA classification tool, for
slopes and tunnels.

A spreadsheet similar to the one for the


second Q system form described in section 3.4, was
constructed to handle and process data collected
from the device. Graphical representation of the
results includes frequency distributions of the
following parameters:
Strength parameter
RQD rating
Spacing range of discontinuities
Discontinuity length
Discontinuity aperture
Discontinuity roughness

Figure 10: Example input for intact rock strength, RQD and
discontinuity properties in RMR data collection form.

For each record collected, the last step the


PDA form, performs is to calculate the basic
(uncorrected for discontinuity orientations) and the
overall (corrected) RMR value. The output also
yields the general qualitative description of the rock
mass as well the class (I-V) in which it belongs
(Figure 11). The form also provides an estimate of
the overall rock mass elastic modulus by assuming
the relations:
9

methodically and securely record, organize and


process rock mass classification data. It is also
possible to extend the toolbox by incorporating the
use of other rock mass classification schemes.
Finally the use of wireless ways of transmitting data
from many handheld devices to a field laptop
computer, will be examined (i.e. infrared, Bluetooth
etc.) to better assist multi- person geological data
acquisition.

Discontinuity infilling
Discontinuity weathering
Ground water rating
Correction rating factors for tunnels and mines
Correction rating factors for foundations
Correction rating factors for slopes F1, F2, F3
and F4 according to the SMR system.
Additionally a useful plot of the recorded
RMR/SMR ratings directly from the PDA is plotted
by the spreadsheet. When records are obtained for a
certain zone, with this plot is possible to estimate an
average, typical minima and maxima and a most
frequent value of the rating for the specific zone. An
example of such a histogram is shown in Figure 13.
V.GOOD ROCK

GOOD ROCK

FAIR ROCK

POOR ROCK

REFERENCES
The work performed in this study has been supported by the
National Science Foundation under grant number CMS
0324889. This support is gratefully acknowledged.

VERY POOR ROCK

20

1. Barton, N., R. Lien, J. Lunde. 1974. Engineering


classification of rock masses for the design of tunnel
support. Rock Mechanics. 6 (4):189-236.
2. Bieniawski, Z.T. 1993. Classification of Rock Masses for
Engineering: The RMR System and Future Trends. In
Comprehensive Rock Engineering, Principles Practice
and Projects, ed. J.A. Hudson, 3: 553-573.
3. Bieniawski, Z.T. 1989. Engineering rock mass
classifications. John Wiley and Sons, Pennsylvania, 29-95.
4. Bieniawski, Z.T. 1980. Rock classifications: State of the
Art and Prospects for Standardization. In Transportation
Research Record 783, Rock Classifications and Horizontal
Drilling and Drainage, TRB, National Academy of
Sciences, Washington D.C, 2-9.
5. Pendragon Software Corporation. 2003. Pendragon Forms
4.0 Manual.
6. Deere, D.U and Deere, D.W. 1988. The rock quality
designation (RQD) index in practice. In Rock classification
systems for engineering purposes. ASTM special
publication 984. ed. L. Kirkaldie, 91-101.
7. Romana, M.R. 1991. SMR Classification. In Proceedings,
ISRM, 7th Congress on Rock Mechanics, Aachen,
Germany, 2: 955-960. Balkema.
8. Palmstrm, A. 1995. RMi a rock mass characterization
system for rock engineering purposes. Dissertation for the
degree Doctor Scientarum. Department of Geology,
University of Oslo, Oslo.
9. Hudson J.A and J.P. Harrison. 1997. Engineering Rock
Mechanics. 1st ed. Oxford: Pergamon.
10. Romana, M.R. 1993. A Geomechnical Classification for
Slopes: Slope Mass Rating. In Comprehensive Rock
Engineering, Principles Practice and Projects, ed. J.A.
Hudson, 3: 575-600.
11. Hack, R. 2002. An evaluation of slope stability
classification. In EUROCK 2002, Proceedings of the ISRM
International Symposium on Rock Engineering for
Mountainous Regions, Portugal, Madeira, Funchal, 25-28
November 2002, eds. C.D de Gama et al, 3-32. Lisboa:
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12. Barton, N. and E. Grimstad. 1994. The Q system following
twenty years of application in NMT support selection.

18
16

Frequencies

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
100-81

80-61

60-41

40-21

<21

RMR/SMR Ranges

Figure 13: Histogram of collected rock mass classification


measurements.

5. CONCLUSION
The rock mass classification tools presented here
are intended to be used by a civil, mining engineer,
geologist and anyone who is performing rock mass
classification onsite. Its main function is to provide
a user friendly interface for the user, paper free
systematic recording of data, and quick processing
of collected data in a desktop/laptop format
personal computer. Initial estimates are immediately
made in every form, whenever a record is
completed and when available recommendations are
given, to assess support requirements at a
preliminary level.
On the basis of the above, future work will
include updated versions of RMR classification, in
order to collect and process data for four
independent joint sets separately, as recommended
by Bieniawski [3] and a useful data collection form
to estimate average RQD values from surface rock
mass classification by use of scanlines. Therefore, a
complete toolbox will be available at the hands of
the onsite engineers and geologists, to quickly,
10

sterreichische Gessellschaft fr Geomechanic - Felsbau.


12 (6): 428-436.
13. Barton, N. 2002. Some new Q-value correlations to assist
in site characterization and tunnel design. International
journal of rock mechanics and mining sciences. 39: 185216.
14. Barton, N. 2004. Personal communication. Blacksburg,
Virginia.
15. Grimstad, E. and N. Barton. 1993. Updating of the Q
system for NMT. In Proceedings of the International
Symposium on sprayed concrete-Modern use of wet mix
sprayed concrete for underground support, Fagernes,
Oslo, Norway, 1993. Oslo: Norwegian Concrete
Association.
16. Loset, F. 1992. Support needs compared at the Svartisen
road tunnel. Tunnels and Tunnelling. June 1992.
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OBryan. 1986. A novel reinforcing system for large rock
caverns in blocky rock masses. In Large rock caverns, ed.
K.H.O. Saari, 2: 1541-1552.
18. Milne, D., J. Hadjigeorgiou and R. Pakalnis. 1998. Rock
Mass Characterization for Underground Hard Rock Mines.
Tunnelling and underground Space Technology, (13) 4:
383391.
19. Romana, M.R. 1985. New adjustment ratings for
application of Bieniawskis classification to slopes. In
Proceedings, ISRM Symposium on Rock Mechanics: The
role of rock mechanics in excavations for mining and civil
works, Zacatecas, Mexico, 1985, 49-53. Mexico: Sociedad
Mexicana De Mecanica de Rocas.
20. Romana, M.R. 1996. The SMR geomechanical
classification for slopes, A critical ten year review. In
Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on
Landslides, Granada, Spain, 27-28 September, 1996, 255267. Rotterdam: Balkema.
21. Bieniawski, Z.T and C.M. Orr. 1976. Rapid site appraisal
for dam foundations by the Geomechanics Classification.
In Proceedings of the 12th Congress for Large Dams,
ICOLD, Mexico City, 1976, 483-501.
22. Serafim J.L. and P. Pereira. 1983. Considerations on the
Geomechanical Classification of Bieniawski. In
Proceedings of the International Symposium on
Engineering Geology and Underground Construction,
Lisbon, Portugal, 1983, 1:II33-II42.
23. Laubscher, D.H. 1977. Geomechanics Classification of
jointed rock masses-Mining applications. In Transactions
of the Institutions of Minerals and Metallurgy. 93: A70A81.
24. Kendorski, F., R. Cummings, Z.T. Bieniawski and E.
Skinner. 1983. Rock mass classification for block caving
mine drift support. In ISRM Proceedings of the 5th
International Congress of Rock Mechanics, ISRM,
Melbourne, 1983, B51-B63.
25. Potvin, Y. and D. Milne. 1992. Empirical cable bolt
support design. In Proceedings of the International
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underground construction, Sudbury, 1992, eds: P.K.
Kaiser et al, 269-275. Rotterdam: Balkema.

11