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Chapter One

Chapter One

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Published by: tonyademeso on Jul 16, 2009
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CHAPTER ONE
1.0
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Preamble
 
From the Stone Age, man has found various applications for rocks,which range from hunting and fire lightening tools through masonry andsculpture to beautification and ornamention. Modern day uses haveincreased the importance of rocks as they are now used for road, buildingand dam construction, shafts and tunnels, caverns, radioactive wastedisposal etc.The applications to which rocks are put are a result of their strength,which is a direct consequence of the type and contact relationship of thecomponent minerals and the geological processes such as deformation andmetamorphism they have gone through. The anisotropic nature of rocks istherefore caused by the non-uniformity of the minerals making up the rocksamong others. Significant variation in the physical properties has beenfound to occur on locations which are a few centimetres apart on the samerock outcrop due to drastic changes in mineralogy. As a result of this,similar rocks in the same locality may not yield the same engineering properties and therefore cannot be applied for the same use.The varieties of crystalline rocks found on the earth surface haveresulted from (a) the crystallization of the differentiated magma (whichmight have been formed from materials of diverse sources) under varyingconditions of temperature and pressure; (b) the remobilization andmetasomatic replacement of the minerals of pre-existing rocks as a resultof the infiltration of highly mobile fluid or mineralized gas phase and (c)metamorphism of pre-existing rocks as a result of temperature and pressure
 
changes. All these processes combine to bring about various crystallinerock types that are made up of different mineral suites with varyingtextures and structures and therefore bound to possess different physicaland mechanical properties.Because metamorphism results in mineral rearrangement and re-constitution of the pre-existing rocks with the attendant structural,lithological and textural effects, it has a direct impact on the strength of rocks. Hence a hitherto incompetent rock may undergo remobilization andrealignment of minerals and may have its strength increased andconsequently it may become competent. In the same vein a hithertocompetent rock may be weakened as a result of stress and strain thataccompany metamorphic and tectonic activities and therefore may becomeincompetent.Magmatic intrusions have been found to affect pre-existing rocks(country rocks) causing the realignment of the constituent minerals particularly at the contact with the surrounding rocks while also inducingcracks, joints, veins and folds leading to a reduction in the strength of theimmediate competent pre-existing rocks. Similarly, emplacement of igneous bodies into highly incompetent rocks has also been found toincrease the strength of such rocks by baking, dewatering, compaction andrealignment of minerals at the contact zones.It is established that the mineralogy of a rock is one of the determinantsof the strength and therefore is one of the parameters for estimating thesaid strength (Mendes et al, 1966). Microscopic study of rocks enablesidentification of microstructures and thus enhancesthe estimation of the
 
strength of rocks. The microstructures are expected to further explain whysimilar rock types have different mechanical behaviours.The Nigerian basement complex consists of various rock typesincluding granites, granodiorites, charnockites, syenites, gneisses,migmatites, blastomylonites, marbles, quartzites, schist’s etc. All theserocks as expected exhibit various mineralogical compositions, textures andstructures.As will be explained below, determination of mechanical characteristicsof rocks is rather tedious, expensive and time consuming. Yet it is stillnecessary to know these characteristics or properties in order to determinethe appropriate use for the rocks. This has led to an attempt at thecharacterization of rocks from easily determinable parameters particularlyfield characteristics. Petrographic characteristics of minerals have been of immense value in this area. Joint factor has also played a very useful partin estimating mechanical parameters (Ramamurthy, 2004). It is believedthat the presence of structures like foliation which helps in predicting thenumber of metamorphic episodes that a rock has experienced will further help in characterizing the rock.1.2 JustificationThe need for appropriate application of rocks demands the knowledgeof their strengths whose determination is tedious, time consuming andexpensive. There is therefore a need for strength estimation based on easilydeterminable parameters. Bieniawski (1976) introduced the Rock MassRating (RMR) as a means of estimating strength parameters. Hoek andBrown (1980) introduced the Hoek and Brown failure criterion which is based on Geologic Strength Index (GSI) and this relies on field

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