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Rock Mechanics Lecture Material

Rock Mechanics Lecture Material

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The physical properties of rocks affecting design and construction in rocks are:

1. Mineralogical composition , structure, and texture;
2. Specific gravity G
3. Unit weight γ
4. Porosity n
5. Void ratio e
6. Moisture content w
7. Degree of saturation, S
8. Permeability to water k

Mineralogical composition is the intrinsic property controlling the strength of the rock
Although there exist more than 2000 kinds of known minerals, only about nine of them
partake decisively in forming the composition of rocks. They are:
• Quartz
• Feldspar
• Mica
• Hornblende(Amphiboles)
• Pyroxenes
• Olivine
• Calcite
• Kaolinite, and
• Dolomite

These minerals are glued together by four types of materials such as silicates, calcites,
argillaceous and ferrous minerals. The Rocks containing quartz as the binder are known
as siliceous rocks and are the strongest while the rocks with calcium and magnesium
carbonates are the weakest.

The term “rock texture” refers to the arrangement of its grains. Thus the texture is the
appearance, megascopic or microscopic, seen on a smooth surface of a mineral aggregate,
showing the geometrical aspects of the rock including shape, size, and arrangement.

One distinguishes between coarse-texture (coarse-grained) and fine-textures rock. A
coarse-grained rock is one in which the large crystals are seen easily while the fine
grained rocks need to be seen under a microscope.

Rock structure and texture affect the strength properties of the rock.

3.1.1 Specific Gravity, Density, Porosity and Water Content

Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of solids to the density of water.

W

S

S

V

M

G

ρ1

=

(where S

M= mass of solids and S

V-volume of solids)

Unit weight ()

γ

V

W

=

γ

( W is the total weight of the sample and V the total volume of the sample)

Density is a measure of mass per unit of volume. Density of rock material various, and
often related to the porosity of the rock. It is sometimes defined by unit weight and
specific gravity. Most rocks have density between 2,500nd 2,800 kg/m3.

Void ratio (e) is the ratio of the volume of voids (VV) to the volume of solids (VS)

S

V

V

V

e =

w

e

G

V

W

W

d

Dry

+

=

+

=

=

1

1

γ

γ

γ

Porosity (n) describes how densely the material is packed. It is the ratio of the non-solid
volume (VV) to the total volume (V) of material. Porosity therefore is a fraction between 0
and 1.

V

G

W

V

e

e

V

V

n

W

S

V

)

/

(

1

γ

=

+

=

=

V

V

e

S

=

+

1

1

(The unit weight of water = 1 g/cm3 =

1 t/m3

= 9.81 kN/m3

= 62.4 lb/ft3

)

Where

d

W= dry weight of the sample

S

W= weight of solids

S

V

V

and

V

= volume of voids and volume of solids

V= total volume of the sample
G= specific gravity
e= Void ratio of the sample

w

γ= Unit weight of water = 9.81 kN/m3
w= moisture content of the sample

The value is typically ranging from less than 0.01 for solid granite to up to 0.5 for porous
sandstone. It may also be represented in percent terms by multiplying the fraction by
100%.

Water content is a measure indicating the amount of water the rock material contains. It is
simply the ratio of the weight of water (Ww) to the weight (WS) of the rock material.

100

100

×

=

×

=

S

S

S

w

W

W

W

W

W

w

Degree of saturation S is

100

×

=

V

w

V

V

S

Density is common physical properties. It is influenced by the specific gravity of the
composition minerals and the compaction of the minerals. However, most rocks are well
compacted and then have specific gravity between 2.5 to 2.8. Density is used to estimate
overburden stress.

Density and porosity often related to the strength of rock material. A low density and
high porosity rock usually has low strength.

Porosity is one of the governing factors for the permeability. Porosity provides the void
for water to flow through in a rock material. High porosity therefore naturally leads to
high permeability.

Figure

Phase diagram illustrating the weights and volume relationship

Table 3.1.1a gives common physical properties, including density and porosity of rock
materials.

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