You are on page 1of 4


Regional Stresses
h>> v in top 500 m globally, and top 1000 m in Sydney region.
h due to tectonic forces. At near surface depths, could be due to locked strain energy in rocks due to their formation process:
o Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks during compaction, cementation, or recrystallization
o Igneous during solidification
As vertical load decreased, v decreased by stress relief (eg. upward bulging, sheet jointing, thrust faulting). As v decreases, h decreases as per Poissons ratio.
Dyke indicates extensional stress regime
2. Chemical Weathering
- Porous/ more permeable rock more susceptible to chemical weathering eg. dense limestone less at risk than porous sandstone
- Under hot/humid conditions chemical weathering can be rapid (CO2 and organic acids from vegetation and oxygen in water)
- Chemical weathering usually facilitated by joints/ bedding planes and faults facilitate groundwater flow and thus weathering.
- Silica and Quatz less susceptible to chemical weathering
- Cementation (iron oxide/limonite) stronger rock (warm humid/tropical)
- Leaching (iron oxide/limonite) rock is weaker (warm humid/tropical)
- Rapid solution evaporate minerals anhydrite, gypsum, halite. Also causes instability in soils.
3. Variable Weathering Profiles (PAGE 32-33)
- If rate of valley erosion is high, SW-FR cab be at valley floor, with more weathered newer rock at sides.
- In tectonically active areas, faulting/uplifting of deeply weathered rock and subsequent erosion
4. Groundwater/ Topography
- Weathering more likely on gradual slopes above groundwater table due to slower rate of runoff
- V. little weathering below groundwater table
5. Landslides (PAGE 66 for rapid rock slides)
- Cutting of toe/ inundation of toe of slope may reactivate landslide
- Increased rainfall + groundwater pressures
- Steep slopes a risk
- Adversely dipping joints/sub-vertical jointing/ faults/ previous shear planes/ remoulded zones
- Stress relief
6. Folding/Faulting
- Differential movement between beds (esp. after stress relief)
- Shears and faults of residual strength
- Deformation concentrated in weaker layers
- Faults can facilitate (if high k) seepage or act as water to groundwater creating high groundwater pressure across the barrier (build-up)

7. Rock Types and Geotechnical Considerations:
FRESH Weathering/ Outcrops Slope Stability Stress Relief
M-C Grained
Igneous Rock
- V. durable
- Strong ~ Extremely Strong
- Joints widely spaced
- Sheet joints common (often v
- (GM) Silty Gravel/ (GC) Clayey Gravel
- (SM) Silty Sand/ (SC) Clayey Sand
- Silty materials Highly Erodible
Weathering (GRANITE ONLY)
- Weathering is common under
FR outcrops.
- Weathers to silty clayey
- PAGE 29/31 for weathering

Slope Stability (GRANITE ONLY)
- Landsliding is common in steep
valleys underlain by weathered
Granite can form thin skins
- Faults soil props - activated by
high pore pressures??
- Fractured SZ/ CZ

Stress relief effects Volcanics

(Basalt, Dolerite,
- V. durable
- Strong ~ Extremely Strong
- Columnar joints (high k)
- Lava tunnels (high k)

- If rock alters to produce monmorillite
then will have v low slake durability and
Weathering (VOLCANIC ONLY)
- Weathers to form clayey soils
which may be expansive or
fissured (Basalt)
- Variable weathering common
- PAGE 31 for common
weathering profile

Stress relief effects - Strong Rock
- High h at shallow depths.
- Sub-horizontal sheet joints (tension
joints) near ground surface.
- Joints due to tension failure
(buckling/spalling) cause by high h
(rough, irregular/plumose)
- May be some local shear failure at ends
of sheet joints (slickensided)
- In fractured rock mass, opening up of
joints due to stress relief e.g. sub-vertical
joints in valley sides.

- Can contain clay cementation
significant clay content when
compacted in thin layers.
- Medium to High porosity and
Weathering (SANDSTONE)
- Sandstone weathers to sands/ clay
or silty/clayey sands
- Poorly cemented sandstones with
high clay% show similar slaking to

Slope Stability
- Landsliding along bedding shears
- Bedding shears likely at contacts of
strong S/S and Shale.
- Adversely dipping EW seams/faults/
Stress Relief Effects Volcanics
- Open/ in-filled joints in valley floors and
valley sides due to high h
- Sheet-jointing in valley floor

Mineral content
- High quartz% is abrasive to TBM
- High clay content in cementation makes
clayey material when crushed.
Implications for swelling when wetted
- VL-L strength
- V. low strength along bedding
- Anisotropic strength (High axial
strength/ low diametral strength)

Weathering (SHALE)
- Low slake durability when
exposed/ wetted
- Rapid weathering of exposed
- Shrink-swell upon
wetting/drying (may develop
fine cracks)
- If fine cracks occur rapid
deterioration (water absorbed
in cracks)
- OK in constant humidity

Slope Stability:
- Sheared bedding planes (may be
residual strength) adversely
- Bedding shears esp. at contact with
strong sandstone slickensided
- Clay seams/ infilled bedding partings
- SZ/ CZ may be low strength
Stress relief effects
- Expansion, spalling, fretting upon
unloading and exposure (due to release
of strain energy locked in)
- Bedding shears
- Surface faults common
- Slickensided adversely dipping joints?

- Claystone/siltstone/mudstones may
contain perched water tables high
groundwater pressures slopes

Mineral content
- High smectite% or clay% may cause
clogging of TBMs

- Quartz Schists are ~M H strength
- Chlorite-rich (Green schists) V weak
- Highly anisotropic strength/stiffness
- Greatest strength when loaded at 90
deg. To foliation. Weakest when
- Strength reduction observed when
- Quartz-rich resistant to
- High clay mineral% or chlorite
v. susceptible to weathering.

EW micaceous-rich:
- Forms silty/clayey soils.
- Highly erodible if silty, low
density thus high dust.
Slope Stability
- Landsliding prevalent when
underlain by schists (weak planes of
foliation esp. planar foliations. Low
friction angles due to
- Knotted schists (contorted foliation)
are more stable.
Structural features PAGE 96
- Minor faults (narrow, SZ, Crushed seams)
parallel to foliation and at acute angles to
- Foliation shears

High Solubility
- Soluble (esp. in saline water and lower
water temps.) May cause differential
settlement/form sinkholes.
- Limestone and Gypsum highly soluble
- Possible leaks into tunnels
- Complex cavity network - concrete
- Lowering water table can lead to
collapse of overlying soils into
previously submerged caverns/cavities.
- Expect v. irregular longitudinal
bedrock profile (tunnels)
- Expect caves at depth
(solution below water table)

- If k is sensitive to applied stress then
may generate high groundwater

- Anhydrite swells when exposed and
forms gypsum
- Swells upon wetting
- Can be controlled by rapid
construction, sealing if exposed (eg
coal tar for tunnel) and good

Foundation Issues:
- Low density
- Highly compressible
- Weak

Alluvial Soils - Stratification of different layers kh>>kv
- Pre-existing slopes/ shear planes at residual?
- Compressible materials
- Lag deposits/point bar deposits
- Sand/Gravel underlain by Siltstone likely to be unsuitable for filters (Siltstone is low durability and the gravel will break-up easily)

Deep Marine
- EQ generated slope instability - tsunamis
- High pore pressures due to gas decomposition within sea beds (lower seal levels)
- Growth of salt diapirs which result in fracturing and over-steepening of slopes
Laterised Profile
(indicative of
- High k of upper pisolithic gravel layer
- Soil likely to have relic joints/fissures/root holes (high k)
- Quartz-rich zone overlying bedrock is high k

- Deep weathering profile (may be stability issues depending on expected loads)
- Upper bedrock usu. Fractured and moderate k
8. Grouting/ Dental Treatment
Erodible Rock foundation apply sand-cement grout (10-25 mm) or shotcrete to 150 mm min
Open joints/ Weak seams flush out compressible material and backfill with concrete to depth of
3 x joint aperture (thickness). Hood for seams day-lighting upstream of reservoir in valley.
Narrow surface cracks slush grouting to reduce seepage.