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Rock Mechanics
Department of Earth Resources Engineering

Sameer S.T.M
July 2015

Q.Why do we do tests on rock?

Rock is said to be an important material to consider in engineering works of civil,
geotechnical and mining engineering fields. There are two distinct aspects in the evaluation of
engineering properties of rock. The problem of rock materials are problems of nature. The problems
of rock masses are problems of mechanical nature. The rock can be mainly categorized into three
different groups such as metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks and igneous rocks. They have been
grouped according to their formation. The rocks are exhibiting different characteristics due to the
presence of some other elements. Hardness, elongation, abrasion, specific gravity, bulk density,
RQD, impact value and also crushing value are some of important parameters of the rock and which
are differing according to the rock types. Based on those different parameters the rock is used for
various applications of engineering.
Therefore it is important to consider the characteristics of rock. But the way of finding those
engineering properties of rock entirely depends on the results obtained from the laboratory tests. The
test results would decide the applications of that particular rock. Thereby the experts who have
completed enough researches about rocks and have designed experimental tests to calculate each and
every important parameters of rock. It is important to understand the possible situations where rock
tests must be required to perform in different fields such civil engineering, geotechnical engineering
and also mining engineering.
When we think about the need of rock tests in civil engineering, the most important part of
construction work is excavation and piling (in other terms deep foundations). In order to do
excavation works in an efficient manner it is important to have an idea about the rock layer. At which
depth, the rock layer is and the quality parameters of rock. Where we may need to do some tests such
as sonic velocity tests, porosity tests, permeability tests and swelling index test and also uniaxial
compressive strength test. All these test are mainly done for ensuring the strength of the rock
material beneath the earth. Based on the results obtained from those tests the excavation works
should be scheduled, it would be even easier to control cost of the excavation and waste of time.
The other thing is piling work, this is said to be deep foundations in civil engineering. Most
of the piles are driven till touch the rock layer. It would ensure the bearing capacity of the
foundation. Therefore it is important to identify the engineering properties of the rock layer which is
supposed to be used to bear those piles. And also there are many civil engineering designs are
planned with the use of aggregates which are required to have some specific properties with certain
values. There some concrete products which are mainly strengthened by the use of aggregates. .
Aggregate increases the strength of concrete and is a fundamental economic factor because it takes
up a large volume of the concrete and is much less expensive than an equivalent volume of cement.
Concrete are used in each and every construction work and so it plays a major role in civil

engineering works. Choosing a proper type of aggregates to a concrete mixture is an important part
in any construction project. Concrete is primarily comprising rock materials and it is advised to have
rock materials with certain properties. In those situations rock tests would be essential part seeing
that there is no alternative ways to identify rocks properties unless we do tests on them.
And rocks are playing a vital role in geotechnical engineering field as well. Because there are
most of the projects dealing with rocks. It is important to investigate the project site and it is mainly
done by geological engineers and they would give sufficient description about the site including all
geological data. When a construction project is to be commenced, the proposed site has to be
investigated in order to evaluate the suitability of the particular land to the construction and to
propose a proper foundation type to the construction. Rock core drilling is done during the site
investigation and those cores are carried to a geotechnical laboratory and various types of rock tests
are done for them in order to examine the certain rock properties. By doing the rock tests such as
strength tests, impact tests, tensile strength, elasticity tests etc, to the rock core, an idea about the
hard rock layer in the particular area can be gained and it helps to identify the stability and the
bearing capacity of the ground before constructing the proposed building structure. But these rock
tests are not the only thing to be concerned when doing a geotechnical investigation in a given area.
Some other facts may also have to observe during this investigation. But rock properties of the area
play a major role. Foundation design and all the developments depend on the quality of the rock
present in the area. Therefore rock test are being as a fundamental source for those works.
When we talk about mining engineering field, rock is being as one of significant figures,
since that field is related to extraction of minerals economically. Rocks cannot be extracted without
considering their engineering properties which were mentioned above. Before commence a quarry
site it is important to identify those characteristics. Because extracting rock masses would tend to
huge invest at its initial stage with lack of profit. There identification would be even more helpful to
reduce cost as well. And also it is essential need of having an idea about distribution of the rock mass
in that particular area. Then only extraction would be profitable and the quarry site would last for
several years. It could be found using thorough investigation done on that rock samples such as rock
cores. And also analyzing dip and strike also would help to get those details.
Furthermore when we write about underground mining, Safety is a major thing in
underground works. In tunnel projects, great care is given to the properties of the surrounding rocks.
When the cycle of drilling, blasting, mucking is completed, support systems are used to ensure the
safety of the area. The tunnel construction also needs supports according to the strength of the
surrounding rock type. There are several types of mining methods present. Each of them needs the
supporting systems according to their rock properties. So those required rock properties would be
checked out by doing proper tests on rocks and analyzing results obtained. Finally it can be

concluded that rock tests govern civil field from excavation to finishing and mining field from
investigation to extraction of rocks.