‫‪Osman Abdullatif‬‬

‫‪GEOMECHANICAL PROPERTIES AND ROCK MASS‬‬ ‫‪QUALITY OF THE CARBONATE RUS FORMATION,‬‬ ‫‪DAMMAM DOME, SAUDI ARABIA‬‬
‫* ‪Osman Abdullatif‬‬
‫‪Earth Sciences Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals‬‬ ‫‪Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia‬‬

‫اﻟﺨﻼﺻـﺔ‪:‬‬
‫ﺗﻬ ﺪف ه ﺬﻩ اﻟﺪراﺳ ﺔ إﻟ ﻰ ﺗﻔﺤ ﺺ اﻟ ﺼﻔﺎت اﻟﺠﻴﻮﻣﻴﻜﺎﻧﻴﻜﻴ ﺔ‪ ،‬وﻧﻮﻋﻴ ﺔ آﺘﻠ ﺔ اﻷﺳ ﺎس ﻟﺘﻜ ﻮن رس ﻓ ﻲ ﻗﺒ ﺔ اﻟ ﺪﻣﺎم‪ .‬وﻗ ﺪ ﺗ ﻢ اﺳ ﺘﺨﺪام أﻧﻈﻤ ﺔ ﺗ ﺼﻨﻴﻒ آﺘﻠ ﺔ‬ ‫اﻷﺳﺎس ﻟﻐﺎﻳﺎت ﺷﻖ اﻷﻧﻔﺎق‪ ،‬و هﻲ ﻧﻈﺎم درﺟﺔ آﺘﻠﺔ اﻷﺳﺎس و ﻧﻈﺎم ﻣﻌﺎﻣﻞ ﻧﻮﻋﻴﺔ آﺘﻠﺔ اﻷﺳ ﺎس ﻓ ﻲ ﺗ ﺼﻨﻴﻒ ﻧﻮﻋﻴ ﺔ اﻷﺳ ﺎس اﻟﻤﺘﻌ ﺮض ﻟﻠﺘﻔﻄ ﺮ‪ .‬إن اﻟ ﺘﺤﻜﻢ‬ ‫ﻓﻲ ﻧﻮﻋﻴﺔ آﺘﻠﺔ اﻷﺳ ﺎس ﻳ ﺘﻢ ﺑﻌﻮاﻣ ﻞ ﻧ ﻮع اﻟ ﺼﺨﺮ‪ ،‬واﻟﻤﺘﺎﻧ ﺔ‪ ،‬ودرﺟ ﺔ اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳ ﺔ‪ ،‬واﻻﻧﻘﻄﺎﻋ ﺎت اﻟﻤﺘﻌ ﺪدة‪ ،‬وﺣ ﻞ اﻟﻜﻬ ﻮف‪ .‬وﻳ ﺘﻢ اﻟﺘﻮاﺟ ﺪ واﻟ ﺘﺤﻜﻢ ﻓ ﻲ اﻟﻜﻬ ﻮف‬ ‫ﺑﺎﻟﻜﺴﻮر اﻟﻤﻮﺟﻮدة ﻓﻲ اﻟﻘﺒﺔ‪ .‬و ﺗﺘﻐﻴﺮ اﻟﺼﻔﺎت اﻟﻔﻴﺰﻳﺎﺋﻴﺔ واﻟﺠﻴﻮﻣﻴﻜﺎﻧﻴﻜﻴﺔ‪ ،‬ﺣﻴﺚ أﻇﻬﺮ اﻟﺮس ﺻﻔﺎت ﻣﺘﻮﺳﻄﺔ أﻗﻞ ﻣﻦ اﻟﺮس اﻟﻮﺳﻄﻰ‪ .‬وﻳ ﺼﻨﻒ ﻧﻈ ﺎم درﺟ ﺔ‬ ‫ﺎ ﺑﺎن آ ﻼ اﻟﻨﻈ ﺎﻣﻴﻦ‬ ‫آﺘﻠﺔ اﻷﺳﺎس آﺘﻞ اﻷﺳﺎس إﻟﻰ ﻣﺮﺿﻴﺔ‪ ،‬وﺟﻴﺪة‪ ،‬وﺟﻴﺪة ﺟﺪا‪ ،‬ﺑﻴﻨﻤﺎ ﻳﺼﻨﻔﻬﺎ ﻧﻈﺎم ﻧﻮﻋﻴﺔ آﺘﻠﺔ اﻷﺳﺎس إﻟﻰ ﺿﻌﻴﻔﺔ‪ ،‬وﻣﺮﺿﻴﺔ‪ ،‬وﺟﻴﺪة‪ ،‬ﻋﻠﻤً‬ ‫ﺣﺪد إن اﻟﺮس اﻟﺴﻔﻠﻰ ﻟﻪ ﻧﻮﻋﻴﺔ آﺘﻠﺔ أﺳﺎس اﻗﻞ ﻣﻦ اﻟﺮس اﻟﻮﺳﻄﻰ‪ .‬وﻳﻤﻜﻦ أن ﻳ ﺴﺎﻋﺪ وﺻ ﻒ ﻧﻮﻋﻴ ﺔ آﺘﻠ ﺔ اﻷﺳ ﺎس داﺧ ﻞ اﻟﻘﺒ ﺔ ﻋﻠ ﻰ اﻟﻤ ﺴﺘﻮى اﻻﻗﻠﻴﻤ ﻰ ﻓ ﻲ‬ ‫ﺗﺠﻨﺐ ﻣﺨﺎﻃﺮ ﻣﻤﻜﻨﺔ وﻣﺸﺎآﻞ ﻣﺤﺘﻤﻠﺔ ﻓﻲ هﻨﺪﺳﺔ اﻟﻤﺒﺎﻧﻲ أو أي ﻋﻼﺟﺎت إﺻﻼﺣﻴﺔ‪.‬‬

‫___________________‬ ‫‪*Corresponding Author:‬‬ ‫‪E-mail: osmanabd@kfupm.edu.sa‬‬

‫_____________________________________________________________________________________________‬
‫‪Paper Received June 13, 2009; Paper Revised November 25, 2009; Paper Accepted December 9, 2009‬‬

‫‪July 2010‬‬

‫‪The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering, Volume 35, Number 2A‬‬

‫‪173‬‬

Osman Abdullatif

ABSTRACT This study investigates the geomechanical properties, rock mass quality, and correlation relationships of the carbonate Rus Formation in the Dammam dome. The rock mass classification systems for tunneling purposes, the rock mass rating (RMR), and rock mass quality index (Q) were used to classify the rock quality from outcrop exposures. Rock mass quality is controlled by variable lithology, strength, weathering, multiple discontinuities, and solution caverns. The caverns are present and controlled by the fractures in the dome. Physical and geomechanical properties vary and the lower Rus shows lower average properties than the middle Rus. The RMR system classifies the rock masses into fair, good, and very good, while the Q system classifies the rock quality into poor, fair, and good. Both systems indicate that the lower Rus has lower rock mass quality than the middle Rus. The rock quality classification indicates that different support requirements might be needed for excavation, construction, and tunneling design in the lower and middle Rus. Characterization of rock quality on a regional scale within the dome can help to avoid potential hazards and possible problems in engineering structures or any expensive repair remedies. Key words: carbonates, rock mass classification, solution caverns, dome structure, Saudi Arabia

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The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering, Volume 35, Number 2A

July 2010

Volume 35. It is an oval shape structural body trending northwest and covering an area of 150 km2 (Figures 1 and 2) The dome encompasses Dhahran.The dome forms a local topographic high along a generally flat area in eastern Saudi Arabia. Understanding the deposition. Khobar. a collapse of rocks was encountered during excavation within the Dammam dome. In addition. Information on rock geomechanical properties in the dome has been lacking. and structure of the dome formations has important implications in understanding the impact on rock material and mass properties and problems related to construction or engineering structures [10. The objective is to describe and characterize the geomechanical properties and rock mass quality of the carbonate Rus Formation within the Dammam dome. development. Saudi Arabia July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. and part of Dammam city [1].11]. and excavation within the dome are continuing at an advancing rate. Previous studies have indicated instability problems and solution cavities. They mainly form along joints in the rock formation [5–9]. DAMMAM DOME.Osman Abdullatif GEOMECHANICAL PROPERTIES AND ROCK MASS QUALITY OF THE CARBONATE RUS FORMATION. The study area is part of the Arabian Gulf region where the impact of engineering construction and rock excavation has increased the pressure on a fragile environment which already suffers from inferior inherent ground conditions with problematic variable material properties and foundation conditions [2–4]. Number 2A 175 . lithological variation. Solution cavities were found to be related to the predominant rock structure orientation. INTRODUCTION The Dammam dome is located in the eastern province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is bounded approximately by longitudes 50 and 50 14N and latitudes 26 12 and 26 26E . Construction work. Figure 1: Location map of the study area in Dammam dome. SAUDI ARABIA 1.

The area is located at the western edge of the Arabian Gulf. A brief account is summarized here below [1. 176 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. From north to south. flat. The drainage in the eastern region is eastward. GEOMORPHOLOGY The geomorphology of the area has been shaped by geologic and climatic elements since Mesozoic times. and sand dunes are also common. locally marked by rock outcrops and interrupted by inland sabkhas and aeolian deposits. reaching a maximum of 150 m at Jebel Umm Er Rus at the top of the dome. Number 2A July 2010 . (3) the Lidam and Al Summan escaparpment to the west. 4) The central region in the middle between the western Lidam escarpment and the dome is generally flat. decreasing gradually further outward. Locally. silts. . where under present day dry conditions. (2) the Dammam dome. hard-rock plateau trending north-south. mudstone. Volume 35. 2) The Damman dome consists of gently sloping topography where small hills stand out from the landscape. The elevation reaches 200m along the western margin of the plateau. and shale of marine and fluvial origin. rock benches 1.Osman Abdullatif Figure 2: Simplified geological map for the tertiary succession in Dammam dome area modified after [1] 2. These deposits consist of mobile barchans dunes and less thick sand sheet deposits.5 to 2 high containing shells and reef occur along the Gulf coastline and indicate higher stands of the sea in past times [16]. The main geomorphic features in the area include (1) the Gulf and the coastal region. 3) The Lidam and Al Summan escarpments border the Arabian Gulf region on the west and form a long.16]. and (4) the central area between the eastern edge and the Lidam escarpment to the west. However. The rocks consists of contrasting lithologies made of limestone. 1) The Arabian Gulf is a shallow sea with a maximum depth of 110 m. mud. sand sheet. The elevation rises gradually inland to the west to an altitude of about 200m in the westernmost part. different climatic conditions affected and shaped the landscape [16]. and salt to a depth of several meters. Three rocks exposed within the dome are gently dipping Tertiary rocks covered locally with Quaternary deposits [1. during past periods. Salt flats and subkhas are also common features and they consist of sands.16]. which are generally fixed by vegetation[16]. the wadis play a minor role. The slopes are small. sandstone. drifting sand.

The total thickness of Umm er Raduma is 243. Ghawar field. 10 m. the absence of anhydrite within the Rus Formation in some areas is attributed to (a) non-deposition because the structures were moving or facies change. and 25 m. The uplift rate of the Dammam dome continued during the Neogene period (7. middle. lagoonal associated with continental facies [1]. Recently. (2) In the subsurface. and sandstone. The middle Rus consists of a vuggy weathered. the lower. The basal Dam Formation consists of a sandy conglomerate overlain by stromatolitic limestone passing upwards into clastic limestone intercalated by of geodes filled with microcrystalline calcite. (2) Rus Formation. respectively. In contrast. and (5) Quaternary coastal deposits. depending upon location. In addition. Towards the top. These facies were deposited within sabkha. and well-jointed dolomitic limestone that shows vuggy weathering and solution caverns. The rocks sequence from oldest to youngest and consist of (1) Umm er Radhuma Formation. According to Weijermars [1].13] the total thickness of the Dammam Formation is 50 m. the facies changes into calcareous sandstone and shales interbedded with minor amounts of marl and gypsum. The Miocene Dam Formation unconformably overlies either Rus or Dammam rocks. the Middle Rus shows thickly bedded grey buff. The Hadruch Formation’s estimated thickness is 84 m [13].19]. and (c) extensive subsurface dissolution of the carbonate and sulfate evaporate under mid-Pleistocene climatic conditions [18]. The tectonic extension was further accelerated in the Miocene era. Dammam dome. hard dolomitic limestone with abundant slumps. (1) The Umm er Raduma Formation consists of very fine to medium crystalline dolomite with siliceous inclusions up to 15 cm. The Dammam dome is an anticlinal structure with a core excavated by erosion with a major axis trending N 30–40 west and covering an area of about 60 sq. and solution caverns. The rock underwent different grades of weathering. and upper Rus. The upper Rus consists of fine grained chalky limestone with few marls and clay layers at the top. Volume 35. Quartz geodes and chert nodules are present throughout the section. Anhydrite in Rus Formation thins or is absent above many structural highs. It consists from bottom to top of shale. and other large anticlines. (3) The Dammam Formation rests unconformably above the Rus Formation. miles. The exposed rocks of the Dammam dome range in age from Paleocene to Middle Miocene. The deposition of the lower Eocene Rus Formation carbonates and its equivalents in eastern margins of the Arabian Peninsula extends from southern Iraq in the north to Yemen and Oman in the south.5 m/Ma) [1]. The Miocene Hadrukh Formation consists of sandy marl at the base overlain by intercalated thin limestone beds. It originated from episodic upward movement of deep-seated infra-Cambrian Hormuz salt. The depositional environment of the Rus Formation consists at the base of sabkha. the reflector is strong and continuous. movement started in the Jurassic period in response to general tectonic extension on the Arabian plate. Based on a composite section at KFUPM and Saudi Aramco [13. The rocks exposed within the Dammam Dome are very gently dipping Tertiary rocks covered with Quaternary deposits locally developed into sand dune and sheet deposits or extensive sabkhas. sabkha plains and aeolian sands (Figure 2). The Rus anhydrite is an important seismic reflector.1 m [13]. limestone. 1]. In the subsurface of the Rub' Alkhali basin. Many solution caverns have been reported [6–8]. which is subjected episodically to shallow marine incursions and changes towards the top of the formation into regressive facies. The lower Rus shows alteration of marls and thin dolomitic limestone beds. including much of Qatar Arch. (3) Dammam Formation. The Hadrukh Formation represents continental to shallow marine facies [13.14]. The (4) (5) July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. In the subsurface. (4) Hadrukh Formation and Dam Formation. (b) deposition followed by erosion. and dolomitic limestone. and upper Rus thicknesses are estimated at 21 m. well-jointed dolomite to dolomitic limestone with abundant mud balls. It is subdivided into five members. dolomitic marls. the Rus Formation consists of interbedded anhydrite parasequences.Osman Abdullatif 3. fractured. This has produced a shallow marine platform that covers an area approximately 450 thousands km2 [17]. In the basins. or both. In contrast. indicating that the anhydrite is thick and bedded. Based on composite section after [1. The Rus Formation is divided lithostratigraphy into three members: lower. The fauna found suggest a shallow marine environment [14]. middle. The lower Rus is composed of thinly to moderately interbedded dolomitic marls and thin. Weijermars [1] documented the surface geology of the Dammam dome and discussed the distribution and stratigraphic and sedimentologic aspects of the Tertiary outcrops of the Dammam dome (Figure 2). GEOLOGIC SETTING The geology of the eastern province has been dealt with by several authors [12–16]. suggesting that the anhydrite is not present or that it is not continuously bedded. Number 2A 177 . abundant slumps. geodes. and geodes. the Rus Formation consists of anhydrite interbedded with carbonate strata and it ranges in thickness from 400 to 800 feet [13. individual beds can be correlated among closely spaced wells using wire line logs for hundreds of kilometers. lagoonal to shallow marine environments. the reflector is weak and scattered along the crests of many large anticlines.

(b) local (minor) fractures. These characteristics help to determine the relationship of fractures to the tectonic doming and structural settings.22]. TECTONICS AND STRUCTURAL FEATURES Study of fractures on the Dammam dome revealed three sets of fractures: (a) regional (major) fractures. Mode III fractures are normal faults where movement is parallel to the fracture surface and in the vertical direction.Osman Abdullatif upper Dam is capped by massive reef limestone. the mode of fracture. This classification is based on the fracture size. filling materials opening and fracture spacing are all noted and recorded [21. total thickness is estimated at 90. and extension within the dome and these characteristics can be observed and measured on the dome rocks. and systematic trends compared to the local and very small-size localized fractures. In addition.13]. Number 2A July 2010 . They are characterized by their large size. The resulting pattern confirmed the relationship of those fractures to the doming in the area (Figures 3a and 3b). Patterns and trends of those fractures were determined in several locations within the Dammam dome (Figure 3a). 4. trend.20]. Field study also indicated two fracture modes are present within the Dammam dome: Mode I and Mode III. Concentric and radial trends characterize the fracture pattern that coincides with a pattern produced by an elliptical shape dome [21. Field investigation indicated that regional fractures are the most prominent or dominant type of fractures within the dome. and it shows a shallow marine environment of subtidal to intertidal environment [1. long extension (>500m – 1000 m).80 m [1. Mode I fractures are extension or tension fractures and are characterized by a lack of displacement in both the horizontal and vertical directions. The estimated thickness from the outcrop section is 40 m and at the Lidam area 50 km west of Dhahran. Volume 35. The Dam Formation indicates a major marine transgression. All of the above are criteria that can be observed in the field and by which different types of fractures can be distinguished. Figure 3a: Major fracture trends within the Dammam dome and the expected major trends [21.22] 178 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.22]. and (c) very small-size localized fractures.

This general pattern may also indicate that the dominant lineament trend within the dome is related to the dome emplacement. the solution cavern (sinkhole) occurrences at KFUPM. environmental. These observations further support the idea that lineaments traced from landsat images of the Dammam dome most probably reflect fractures generated during dome emplacement.21]. The general dominant trend of the lineaments also coincides with the fracture trends observed in the field. These trends were observed in the field at several locations (Figure 3a). and hydrocarbon implications. The regional fractures are more important than the other local types concerning the engineering. northnorthwest and north-northeast.Osman Abdullatif Figure 3b: The proposed fracture trends associated with elliptical shape dome [22] Lineament studies for the Dammam dome indicated that the general distribution pattern is compatible and concordant with the proposed and expected fracture pattern for an oval shape dome (Figure 3b). Major lineament trends are almost northerly. For example. [21. Aramco. and south-southwest. Summary of Solution Caverns (Sinkholes) Characteristics Recorded in Previous Studies in Dammam Area July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. Number 2A 179 .22]. Table 1. Table (1) summarizes solution caverns and their characteristics in the Dammam area. Volume 35. and RSAF Military Base tend to occur along a north-western trend. most possibly located along and controlled by one of these regional fractures [7.

porosity. were described and classified in this study. Volume 35. joint orientation. and permeability. The lower Rus consists of thinly. and laboratory measurements. Figure 4: Generalized composite stratigraphic section of Rus Formation Dhahran study area showing lithological variation and structures of lower and middle Rus and samples at outcrop locations 180 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. ROCK MASS AND MATERIAL DESCRIPTION A generalized composite lithological section for the lower and middle Rus Formation is shown in Figure 4. Both regional and local fractures cut the lower and middle Rus carbonate strata. This information was used to assess the rock mass quality. In contrast. lithology. dry and relative density. and weathering. outcrop survey.to moderately-bedded carbonate strata dominated by dolomitic marl. 6. The lithologic succession thickens upward. the middle Rus is thickly-bedded and dominated by fine-grained marly dolomitic limestone. dolomite. METHODS Methods consisted of field work. Data collected on the sheets included information related to rock strength. Number 2A July 2010 . Then the NGI Quality Index (Q) and the CSIR Rock Mass Rating (RMR) systems were used to classify all rock masses in terms of rock mass quality. Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio. fracture spacing. joint condition. water absorption.Osman Abdullatif 5. In addition. and weathering. The lower and middle Rus vary in their stratification. Schmidt hammer rebound hardness. The rock mass and discontinuity survey data sheets were recommended by the Engineering Group Working Party [23] and were used for data collection. uniaxial compressive strength (UCS). rock samples were collected from the lower and middle Rus Formation to determine their geomechanical and physical properties. Geomechanical properties studied included point load strength (Is). Tests were conducted according to procedures described by Brown [24] and Johnson and DeGraff [25]. and dolomitic limestone (Figure 5). The field work collected data on intact rock and made rock mass descriptions and classifications on the lower and middle Rus Formation. 11 from the middle Rus and 12 from the lower Rus. Twentythree exposed and excavated outcrop exposures. fracture pattern.

especially during the late Tertiary to Quaternary times. (4) the presence of interbedded evaporates such as anhydrite. Karst is more pronounced in competent rocks than in weaker rocks. Figure 7c shows land subsidence in lower Rus underlain by solution caverns containing gravel and sand matrix. Number 2A 181 . Dissolution caverns recognized within the Rus Formation may be classified. b). Volume 35. and 7). A number of factors were probably involved. These were washed down by percolating water during wet periods. This is especially evident at exposed outcrops and at rockheads beneath soil (Figures 5. or (e) sand pipes caverns (Figures 5. (b) collapse sinkhole. as (a) dissolution sinkhole. Solution caverns (suffusion type) are shown in lower Rus. Figure 7 shows solution cavern (A) and rock collapse (B) in middle Rus. these include: (1) generally hard competent rocks of the Rus Formation.Osman Abdullatif Figure 5: Excavation in Rus Formation at KFUPM campus showing regional fracture and solution caverns in the lower and middle Rus Karst features and solution caverns in Rus Formation are common and appear to be inherited from postdepositional erosion and drainage. and (5) repetitive periods of wet and dry climate. The cavern contains unconsolidated gravel and sand matrix which occlude the cavern. Outcrops on the Dammam dome show that solution caverns in the Rus carbonates intersect underground fractures. (c) suffusion sinkhole. 6. Karst is developed best in limestone and dolomite where the strata is in both competent and fractured rocks with UCS 30–100 M Pa. The cavern wall is lined with gypsum. Figure 5 shows an excavation in the Rus Formation at KFUPM campus where a regional fracture cuts across lower and middle Rus. (d) buried sinkhole. A buried solution cavern more than 1 m in diameter containing gravel and sand matrix is shown in Figure 7d. that provided water recharge and drainage that acted to dissolve the Rus carbonates. and 7). Gravel and sand matrix fills the cavern and gypsum is lining the cavern walls (Figures 6a. Solution caverns vary in size and range from a few to several meters in size. (2) well-developed fractured patterns due to doming. These formed during the late Tertiary. (3) variable lithologies and well developed bedding planes. based on Waltham and Fookes [10] classification. Solution caverns are associated with fractures in the Rus Formation. A wet tropical climate likely influenced and lead to development of the karst landforms [10]. 6. July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.

Summary characteristics of the Rus Formation and its lithological and structural variation in the outcrops studied are shown in Figure 8. Solution caverns. Number 2A July 2010 . calcite (1–7%). The wide regional distribution of the Rus Formation in the Arabian Peninsula [17. The lower Rus is thinly to moderately interbedded marl. silty sand.18. subsidence.21]. They tend to be present and pronounced along discontinuities that intersect lithological variations such as anhydrite. and minor quartz (1–6%) and clay minerals (1–2%). 182 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. Solution caverns are lined with gypsum (F).19] suggests that rock instability and engineering hazards may be encountered elsewhere beyond the Dammam dome. especially on structurally high areas similar to the Dammam dome. Infilling material is made of gravelly. The middle Rus consists of massive dolomite (A) which is thickly bedded and widely jointed (B). and moderately Vuggy (C) to highly cavernous dolomite (D). the lower Rus ranges from fine. understanding fracture pattern from outcrop combined with remote sensing and GIS techniques. and gypsum is lining the cavity wall (arrows). dolomite. Porosity typically reaches a maximum of 20%. Regional fractures (arrows) cut across thinly interbedded marls and dolomite in lower Rus (H). whereas the middle Rus is composed of fine-grained. hard crystalline dolomite with very low porosity around 8% (Figure 9). X-ray diffraction analysis indicates that mineralogy of the Rus Formation is dominated by dolomites (91–99%).Osman Abdullatif Figure 6a: A gravelly to sandy matrix fills the regional fracture and extends down through the middle and lower Rus Figure 6b: Fracturing is associated with solution caverns developed in the lower Rus. and rock instability are recorded in the subsurface. Volume 35. Therefore. could aid engineering geological investigation and characterization studies [20.to medium-grained dolomite to dolomitic limestone. Petrographically. and dolomitic limestone (E-H).

Schmidt hammer rebound hardness tests were also conducted on outcrop sections of the lower and middle Rus as shown in Figures 10a. The average permeability in lower Rus is 84. respectively. the lower and middle Rus show average values of 2. Results are shown in Table 2.B) and the lower Rus (C. respectively. The minimum and maximum point load strength values for lower and middle Rus Formation are 0.27 (poor/fair to very good).b. In the lower Rus. and maximum values of geomechanical and physical properties for the lower and middle Rus are shown in Table 5.86 g/cm3.Osman Abdullatif Figure 7: Solution caverns in the middle Rus (A. Volume 35.b). The average. Average porosity in lower Rus is 10. In comparison.10 to 0. The average point load strength values for the lower and middle Rus are 5.14 to 2. Dry density in lower Rus ranges from 1. In the middle Rus.20 and 6. and permeability tests. Young’s modulus values range from 4 to 183 gigapascals (Gp) with an average of 42 Gp.08 to 316.38 (Table 4).98 mD (poor to fair) to 278. 21 and range from 0. only 16% of the measurements are greater than 50 (SHV). PHYSICAL AND GEOMECHANICAL PROPERTIES The geomechanical and physical analyses included point load strength (Is). and 50% of the measurements are less than 30 (SHV) (Figures 10a.39% (poor to fair) and it ranges from 5 to 16% (poor to fair/good).D) at KFUPM campus 7.50 to 13. the average porosity in middle Rus is 8. minimum. dry density.56 g/cm3. 25% are greater than 40%.83 (negligible to poor) and it ranges from 5 to 14% (poor to fair). July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.35 mD (moderate/good). one-inch diameter specimens were selected for determining Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio by static test on the lower and middle Rus (Table 3 and 4). the middle Rus has an average permeability of 58.7 to 2.30 Mpa and 0.72 mD (good). values for middle Rus range from 13 to 207 Gp and average 80 Gp. 75% of the measurements are greater than 50 (SHV) and 25% are between 40 and 50 Schmidt hammer rebound values (SHV). porosity. The lower and middle Rus have similar Poisson’s ratio values that average 0.21 Mpa.90 megapascals (Mpa). In contrast.56 to 24. Number 2A 183 . For dry density. Schmidt hammer tests indicate that the middle Rus has higher values than those encountered in the lower Rus. In contrast.57 milli Darcy (mD) (good) and it ranges from 5. respectively.28 and 2. whereas in the lower Rus.52 g/cm3 and in middle Rus it ranges from 2. A total of 10. and it ranges from 2. uniaxial compressive strength (UCS).

Rock Geomechanical and Physical Properties for Lower and Middle Rus Formation 184 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. Number 2A July 2010 . Volume 35.Osman Abdullatif Table 2.

and the overall rating of the rock mass is made by adding the ratings of the parameters. Number 2A 185 . (4) joint water reduction factor (Jw). Thinly interbedded marl and dolomite (E). (5) groundwater condition. cavernous (F. (2) roughness of joints (Jr). a number of points or rating are allocated to each range of values for each parameter. Rock Mass Classification The Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and the Quality Index (Q) rock classification systems were used to classify the rock masses of Rus carbonates. the intact strength was estimated by using point load strength measurements. The RMR system is a sum of six properties: (1) uniaxial compressive strength. The spacing of joints. number of joints sets (Jn). is given by July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. moderately vuggy (C) and highly cavernous dolomite (D) in the middle Rus.Osman Abdullatif Figure 8: Shows massive (A) and fractured thickly bedded (B). (2) rock quality designation (RQD). Volume 35. conditions of joints. The rock quality designation (RQD) values were estimated from the average frequency of discontinuity using Priest and Hudson's formula. RQD. The Q system consists of five parameters: (1) RQD. (3) joint alteration number (Ja). (4) condition of discontinuities. For both classification systems. and the rock mass is given a class representing the rock mass quality. and (6) orientation of discontinuities [27–30]. For all rock masses. and the rock quality designation.G) and regional fractures (arrows) (H) are shown in the lower Rus. 8. (3) spacing of discontinuities. and the groundwater condition were estimated from the rock mass and discontinuity data sheets. and (5) stress reduction factor (SRF) [31].

90 152.83 2. MPa Lower Rus L-4 L-6 L-7 L-10 L-11 Middle Rus MR-6 MR-7 MR-9 MR-11 MR-13 Young’s Modulus Poisson’s Ratio _________________________________________________________________________________________ 5708 183236 16129 4624 4047 86790 13879 19479 207503 73961 0.86 2.38 0.1λ (0.72 13879 207503 0.35 80322 0.08 4047 0.35 36 60 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 186 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. and (3) good. The Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and Quality Index (Q) for both lower and middle Rus are plotted in Figure 12.56 12.21 50 0.11 0.39 2.10 0. Number 2A July 2010 . Young’s Modulus and Poisson’s Ratio for the Lower and Middle Rus Formation Carbonates ____________________________________________________________________________ Sample No. The rock mass quality data indicates that the lower Rus carbonates have lower rock mass quality compared with the middle Rus. Summary of Laboratory Testing Results for the Lower and Middle Rus Formation Carbonates Studied in Outcrops _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Formation Geomechanical Parameter Lower Rus Average Minimum Maximum Middle Rus Average Minimum Maximum 6.10 12 24.86 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Point load Strength I Index (Mpa) Uniaxial Compressive Strength (Mpa) Porosity (%) Dry Density (g /cm3) Permeability (md) Young’s Modulus E (Mpa) Poisson’s Ratio Schmidt Hammer 5.32 0.35 _______________________________________________________________________________ Table 4.22 0.28 84.33 0. Average. (2) good. and (3) very good.21 0. The lower and middle Rus were classified into three categories: (1) poor.57 42748 0.35 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Table 5.21 288.10 10.5 15 13.56 58. Minimum and Maximum Values of Young’s and Poisson’s Ratio of Lower and Middle Rus Formation Carbonates __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Formation Lower Rus Middle Rus Young’s Modulus Mpa Average Minimum Maximum 42748 80322 4047 13879 183236 207503 Poisson’s Ration Average Minimum Maximum 0.10 0.52 316.14 2.7 5.1 + 1) [31] where λ is the discontinuity frequency per meter.22 33 0.38 54 5 14 2.92 8. (2) fair.3 506 16 2. Results of the quality index according to the NGI quality system are shown in Table 6.20 100. For the lower and middle Rus.10 0.27 183236 0.Osman Abdullatif RQD = 100 e – 0.17 0. Table 3. The rock mass quality rating according to the RMR system is classified into three categories: (1) fair.11 012 0.10 0. the calculation of the Rock Mass Rating and Quality index is shown in Table 6.98 278. Figure 11 shows different categories of rock mass quality for the lower and middle Rus estimated from the Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and Quality Index (Q) rock mass classification systems. Volume 35.12 5 1.38 0.10 0.

Osman Abdullatif Figure 9: Microphotographs showing euhedral to anhedral dolomite in lower Rus (A) and middle Rus (B) Figure 10: Schmidt hammer rebound values.2 2.5 6.9 10 5 19. Volume 35.2 3.4 7.8 3. Rock Mass Quality Classification of the Lower and Middle Rus Formation Carbonates Using the Quality Index (Q) and Rock Mass Rating (RMR) Classification Systems Studied in Outcrops Rock Mass # Middle Rus MR 1 MR 2 MR 3 MR 4 MR 5 MR 6 MR 7 MR 8 MR 9 MR 10 MR 11 Lower Rus LR 12 LR 13 LR 14 LR 15 LR 16 LR 17 LR 18 LR 19 LR 20 LR 21 LR 22 LR 23 Quality Index (Q) 20 12.2 6.2 2.4 5 9.9 7.5 7 4.5 9.4 2.1 3.8 6.9 7. Number 2A 187 . lower Rus shows lower values than middle Rus Table 6.3 3.7 Rock Mass Classification (Q) Good Good Fair Fair Fair Poor Fair Fair Poor Good Fair Fair Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Fair Fair Fair Rock Mass Rating (RMR) 80 77 72 71 71 76 85 66 76 92 80 77 68 61 56 52 50 54 53 54 68 54 59 Rock Mass Classification (RMR) Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Fair Good Very Good Good Good Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.

CORRELATION BETWEEN ROCK MASS RATING AND QUALITY INDEX CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS The Rock Mass Rating system (RMR) considers orientation of discontinuities and material strength. The two systems are the most practical schemes for rock mass classification where tunneling is to be reformed.7. where A is between 7 and 14 and B is between 36 and 49.Osman Abdullatif Figure 11: Relationship between rock mass ratio (RMR) and quality index (Q) for lower Rus (triangles) and middle Rus (circles) Figure 12: Correlation and curve fitting for RMR and quality index (Q) data for lower Rus (triangles) and middle Rus (circles) 9. Volume 35. 188 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. Rather. Previous studies indicated that the Rock Quality Index classification system (Q) yields a better forecast of support quantities [33–35]. the two classification systems RMR and Q index indicate that the lower Rus carbonates have lower rock mass quality than the middle Rus carbonates. Number 2A July 2010 .35–37]. Various correlations between the RMR and Q rock mass classification systems have been found and these are summarized in Table 7 [28. Figure 11 shows the relationship between Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and the Quality Index (Q) for lower and middle Rus. These are not directly included in the Quality Index (Q) classification system. Both systems include conditions for discontinuities and groundwater conditions. Figure 12 shows the correlation between RMR and Q has a correlation coefficient of 92%. the Q system considers rock stress and the joint set number. As shown from the linear relationship in Figure 11 and the power relationship in Figure 12.5 x (ln Q) + 39. The relationships between the RMR and Q classification systems are in the form of RMR = A ln Q + B. The relationship between RMR and Q is given by RMR = 15. which are indirectly considered in the Rock Mass Rating system.

supported. Figure 14: Comparison of the result of this study and other studies (adapted after 38) July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. On the basis of this relationship. Number 2A 189 . Cave stability is related to the cave width and the rock mass quality Q value (Figure 13) [31]. The Q data of the lower and middle Rus shows poor to good rock mass quality (Table 6).5 ln Q + 39. or both [10]. and unstable are based on Q quality methods [10]. Figure 13 shows cave stability related to cave width and rock mass quality.7 The engineering hazards presented by karst features include failure of carbonate rocks over voids created by dissolution. Figure 14 compares the results of rock mass quality classification (this study) with other studies (Table 6).35–38]. Cave width observed from Rus outcrop exposures ranges from 1 to 5 m. The data for the lower Rus (red) and middle Rus (yellow) both lie within the stable field. Relationships Between Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and Quality Index (Q) Established by Previous Studies Author Relationship between RMR and Q Bieniawski [28. The data indicate that the field for cave stability lies within the observed cave width values. Structural support is needed in areas where cave width increases to values greater than 5–20 m [10]. Figure 13: Cave stability related to cave width and rock mass quality.30] Kaiser and Gale [35] Al-Harthi [37] Tugrul [38] This study RMR = 9 ln Q + 44 RMR = 8. caves in the lower Rus carbonates are less stable than are caves in the middle Rus.Osman Abdullatif Table 7. modified after [10]. or failure due to downward washing of soil into old stable voids. Volume 35. The results of this study are similar to other studies [30.7 ln Q + 39 RMR = 9 ln Q + 49 RMR = 7 ln Q + 36 RMR = 15. The envelope of the field for limestone caves is derived from observations of caves around the world. The labeled fields of stable.

Various types of regression. Volume 35. and diagenetic processes mainly allow for lower porosities of carboniferous and magnesian limestone.58 g/cm3.Osman Abdullatif 10. Bell [40] recorded that the dry density of marl decreases progressively with increase of degree of weathering. The Rus Formation is deposited within a shallow marine environment associated with continental facies [1]. Low correlations were obtained between point load and permeability.3287 R = 0. and between porosity and permeability. The relationship between porosity and dry density as shown in Figure 15d shows rather moderate correlation with correlation coefficients of 61%.16 to 2. William and McNamara [42] mentioned that both dolomitization and dedolomitization can give rise to increased porosity. the dry density of marls ranges from 1. the dry density ranges from 1. CORRELATION RELATIONSHIPS AMONG INTACT ROCK PROPERTIES Regression analysis was applied to obtain relationships between geomechanical and physical properties measured from lower and middle Rus. some of the dry density values in lower and middle Rus are rather low. and degree of weathering.c). UCS 30 IS = 0. power (y = axb) relationships between geomechanical and physical properties were investigated. and muddy dolomitic limestone.9 to 2. such as a wide range of lithologies. Figure 15 shows some of these relationships and the best fit curves between different parameters.4 g/m3. and at high weathering grade of IV. However. Bell [40] reported dry density values for different carbonate rocks ranging from 2. in addition to linear regression. Number 2A July 2010 . Bivariant correlation provides a means for summarizing the relationship between two variables [39]. Figure 15a shows the relationship between the point load strength and uniaxial compressive strength and the best fit curves for lower and middle Rus samples. It can be seen that the linear relationship between Is and UCS yields a correlation coefficient (R= 99%). The power relationship between Is and permeability yields a rather lower correlation coefficient of 51%. Moderate correlations were obtained between UCS and permeability and between point load and permeability (Figures 15b. composition. Dearman [41] noted that density of carbonate rocks increases with age. IS vs. As indicated earlier. and that age often has an influence on the strength and deformation characteristics of carbonate rocks. This is shown in Figure 15d. Tugrul [38] reported mean values of absolute and effective porosity for Cretaceous limestone which are lower than those of Jurassic limestone. Al Jassar and Hawkins [43] showed that the engineering properties of several lithological types in Carboniferous limestone are related to lithology. The amount of clastic non-carbonate sediments in marine environment means that carbonate sediments may grade into terrigenous clastic rocks. Various regression equations are proposed for predicting mechanical properties and provide an indirect way of estimating the mechanical properties. marly and muddy limestone.9909 25 2 20 IS 15 L Rus M Rus 10 5 0 0 100 200 300 UCS 400 500 600 Figure 15a: Point load strength vs unconfined compressive strength 190 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.047 UCS . The correlation between porosity and dry density conforms to those relationships reported for carbonate rocks by Bell [40]. Figures 15e-j show the relationships among some physical properties and Schmidt rebound hammer values. whilst porosity is reduced. including weathered marls.0. The relationships show rather higher correlations between point load (Is) and uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) (Figure 15a). A relatively higher correlation was obtained between porosity and dry density. Previous studies indicated relationships between index properties and mechanical properties.8 g/cm3. At weathering grades I and II. The relationship between UCS and permeability as shown in Figure 15c also shows a lower correlation with a correlation coefficient of 50%.4 to 1. this might be attributed to the lithological heterogeneity of the Rus in terms of type.

5143 25 2 -0.Osman Abdullatif IS vs Perm 30 IS = 16.24 Perm R = 0. Number 2A 191 .4249 400 UCS 300 L Rus M Rus 200 100 0 1 10 Perm 100 1000 Figure 15c: Unconfined compressive strength vs permeability July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.156 Perm R = 0.4539 20 IS 15 L Rus M Rus 10 5 0 1 10 Perm (mD) 100 1000 Figure 15b: Point load vs permeability UCS vs Perm 600 UCS = 347.5055 500 2 -0. Volume 35.

9 2.61 18 16 14 12 Porosity L Rus M Rus 10 8 6 4 2 0 1.9 3.1 2.7 2.5 2.3 Dry Density 2. Number 2A July 2010 .5 1.88 Dry Density + 36. Volume 35.383 R2 = 0.1 Figure 15d: Dry Density vs porosity Figure 15e: Point load strength (Is) vs Schmidt hammer rebound number 192 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.7 1.Osman Abdullatif Porosity vs Dry density 20 Porosity = -10.

Number 2A 193 .Osman Abdullatif Figure 15f: Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) vs Schmidt hammer rebound number Figure 15g: Porosity (%) vs Schmidt hammer rebound number July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. Volume 35.

The heterogeneity of the intact rock and rock masses are influenced by a number of factors. This conclusion conforms to the results of intact rock geomechanical properties. Volume 35. as shown in Table 5. whereas. 194 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. The regional fractures are related to dome emplacement. Number 2A July 2010 . DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS The rock mass quality classification using the Rock Mass Rating (RMR) and the Quality Index (Q) systems indicate that the lower Rus has lower rock mass quality than that of the middle Rus. Dissolution caverns vary in type and size and are typically present along discontinuities and changes in lithology. where the lower Rus carbonates have lower average values than those of the middle Rus. and dissolution caverns. including fracturing and bedding. weathering. The variation in rock mass qualities in the Rus Formation suggests that different support requirements and designs are needed for excavation and engineering structures in the lower and middle Rus carbonates. The Rus Formation is characterized by fractures of regional to local extent. including lithological variation and the presence of multiple discontinuities.Osman Abdullatif Figure 15h: Grain density vs Schmidt hammer rebound number Figure 15i: Log permeability vs Schmidt hammer rebound number 11. the local fractures probably formed in response to minor block movements.

2879–2907. Engineering Geology. both intact rock properties and rock mass quality classification indicate that lower Rus carbonates have lower geomechanical properties and lower rock mass quality than those of middle Rus carbonates. lower density. J. The complexity of geology in the Dammam dome area indicates that there is a need for an engineering geological data base. Pinto. “Solution Caverns in the Dammam Dome. Aiban. Saudi Arabia”. and porosity and dry density. 102(2008). Saudi Arabia”. Fookes. Touma. A New Guide”. a high correlation was obtained between point load strengths (Is) and uniaxial compressive strengths (UCS). Egeli. “Surface Geology. 4(2)(1999). Ali. Saudi Arabia.Osman Abdullatif The Rus Formation varies in its physical and geomechanical properties. Johnson. Abdullatif and M. S. pp. J. “A Sinkhole Susceptibility Zonation Based on Paleokast Analysis Along a Stretch of the Madrid-Barcelona High Speed Railway Built over Gypsum. Jado and D. 1(1980). However. Second Saudi Engineering Conference (1985). F. Lucha. in Proceedings of the International Conference of Geo-Environmental Engineering. and design of local and extended engineering works and structures. and Tertiary Growth of the Dammam Dome. 123–131. J. Volume 35. A. lower Schmidt hammer rebound values. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology II. REFERENCES [1] [2] [3] R. Eastern Saudi Arabia”. 47–54. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author would like to thank Dr. For example. pp. pp. Hariri. 8(1983). Low correlations were obtained between Is and permeability and between porosity and permeability. The lower Rus carbonates are expected to show less cave stability than those in the middle Rus. “Compressibility and Swelling Characteristics of Al-Khobar Palygorskite. 299–307. and D. or expensive repair remedies on the Dammam dome. 62–73. Richards. Weijermars. “Environmental Impacts of Engineering and Quarrying Works. Moderate correlations were obtained between UCS and permeability. Lithostratigraphy. Jefferson. “The Effects of Cavities in Limestone on the Construction of a High Rise Building in Al Khobar. 33–49. pp. 101–118. 199–266. “Solution Cavities in the Limestone of Eastern Saudi Arabia”. Cagatay. M. (1978). Riyadh.and SALT-Bearing Evaporites (NE Spain)”. A. I. A. Such a data base is important for land use. and P. G. and relatively higher water absorption and higher average porosities than the middle Rus. I. The lower Rus has lower strength. N. Fookes. (2003). In conclusion. P. in Proceedings of the Symposium on Geotechnical Problems in Saudi Arabia. foundation instability problems. Waltham and P. Chew. “Middle East . “Palygorskite in the Eocene Rocks of the Dammam Dome. Outcrop surveys and measurements aided with geophysical surveys can help characterize the rocks and establish a susceptibility zonation that might need further investigation or application of certain mitigation measures [10. pp. eds. 36(2)(2008). Hariri for his help and support. Eastern Region. Is and porosity. H. pp. M.11. pp. Crosch. “Some Geotechnical Problems in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia”. support is needed in areas where cave width increases to values greater than 5–20 m [10]. Saudi Arabia”. in Proceedings of the Symposium on Geotechnical Problems in Saudi Arabia. F. pp. A. R. M. (1981). and to acknowledge KFUPM and SABIC for their support for this project under SABIC Grants (Project # 2002-06). O. planning. F. Dhahran. p. In conclusion. pp. Lord. 38(3)(1990). A. Clays and Clay Minerals. Singapore.Inherent Ground Problems”. generally the intact rock material properties indicate that the lower Rus has lower physical and geomechanical properties than the middle Rus Formation. Bivariant correlation relationships between geomechanical and physical parameters were determined by this study. 205–219. This may help others to avoid potential hazards. Engineering Geology. The author thanks AJSE reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions which improved the original manuscript. G. M. G. Bonachea. H. M. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. “Engineering Classification of Kast Ground Conditions”. GeoArabia.44]. Saudi Arabia”. Number 2A 195 . and H. Gutierrez. Abu Taleb and I. King Saud University. S. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. Guerrero. Davies and J. pp. 813–819. Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. the data indicate that the field of cave stability of the Rus Formation lies within the stable field under observed cave width values. J. 87(2006). C. On the basis of observed cave widths (1 to 5 m) and Q value relationships. 69–73.

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“Limestone to Dolomite to Dedolomite Conversion and Its Effect on Rock Strength: A Case Study”. 91–96. “Prediction of Engineering Properties of a Selected Litharenite Sandstone from Its Petrographic Characteristics Using Correlation and Multivariate Statistical Techniques”. Dearman. M. 46(2004). (1993). M.. “The Application of Rock Mass Classification Systems to Underground Excavation in Weak Limestone. W. and C. International Association Engineering Geology. Williams and K. pp. A. M. Dammam Dome. B Hawkins. Quarterly Journal Engineering Geology. F. H. 5(1992).Shuhail. in The Engineering Geology of Weak Rock. “Application of CSIR and NGI Classification Systems Along Tunnel No. Al. G. (1977). A. 337–344. Eastern Saudi Arabia”. H. 171–178. Al-Harthi. “Engineering Properties of Carbonate Rocks”. pp. S. [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] July 2010 The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. S. Al-Jassar and A. 3 at Al-Dela Descant. and M. and M. J. 3–13. Hariri. 135–157. Makkawi. in Proceedings of the 4th International Congress International Society Rock Mechanics. Eng. 50(1998). Engineering Properties of Soils and Rocks. Asir Province.Osman Abdullatif [37] A. International Geology Review. Cripps. McNamara. Saudi Arabia”. H. eds. M. Montreux. Moon. Coulthard. Culshaw. pp. Hencher. Number 2A 197 . R. Tugrul. 2000. pp. Rotterdam: Balkema. Geo. Engineering Geology. Forster. 37(1994). “Using Ground Penetrating Radar to Delineate Fractures in the Rus Formation. 24(1981). Turkey”.. R. 3–17. pp. K. Volume 35. pp. F. Ataturk Dam. M. A. 323–328. C. A. G. pp. Ider. J. A. R. Bell. Tureli. Bulletin. D. Ulusay. “Geotechnical Properties of the Carboniferous Limestone of the Bristol Area”.