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In the nature there are so many types of rocks are available.

But when it comes to usage all of

them having different properties and parameters. Mainly for engineering purposes rocks need
to be classified. In 1974 Z.T.Bieniawski proposed the Geomechanics classification system of
rocks based on the Rock Mass Rating (RMR) value of rock.

Properties of Rocks for Engineering Purposes:

The Rock Mass Rating (RMR) value depends upon the rock quality and its value vary from 0
to 100. The RMR is derived from 6 parameters given below.

1. Strength of rock

2. Drill core quality

3. Joint spacing

4. Joint characteristics

5. Ground water conditions

6. Orientation of joints

Compressive Strength of rock:

The RMR value depends up on the unconfined compressive strength (qu) of the rock and it
can be determined from laboratory compression test on a prepared rock specimen. Or
otherwise find out the approximate value of compression strength from point load test on
intact pieces of drill core. Use the following equation to find qu.

qu = 25 Is

Where Is = point load strength.

The following table gives RMR value of rock depending upon the point load strength (Is) and
unconfined strength (qu). The increments vary from 15 to 0.

Point load Unconfined Rock mass

index (Is) compressive rating
(MPa) strength (qu) increments
>8 >200 15
4-8 100-200 12
2-4 50-100 7
1-2 25-50 4
10-25 2
3-10 1
<3 0
When RMR value increment is less than 3 (for last 3 rows), then do not use this rock for
engineering purposes.

Drill core quality:

The drill core quality is related to rock quality designation (RQD) which is expressed in
terms of %. The RQD of a rock is determined from the percentage recovery of core in lengths
greater than 10 cm for NX cores (57.2 mm diameter). And for other types, the percentage
recovery is determined in lengths greater than twice the corresponding diameter.

The RMR value for drill core quality depend upon the RQD value is shown in below table.
The increment vary from 20 to 3.

(%) increment
91-100 20
76-90 17
51-75 13
25-50 8
<25 3

Joint spacing:

Spacing of joints should also decides the rock mass rating value. The rating increment should
also reflects the joint set which is most critical for a particular application. If the rock mass
has fewer sets of joints, the rock mass rating is increased.

The below table will gives the rating increment for different joint spacings (m) and the
increments may vary from 30 to 5.

Joint RMR
spacing (m) increment
>3 30
1-3 25
0.3-1 20
0.005-0.3 10
<0.005 5

Joint characteristics:

Along with the joint spacing, the characteristics of joints are also influence the RMR
increment value. That is the condition of a joint set which is most critical for a particular
application should be considered for the rating. And RMR for joint characteristics also
depends upon the roughness of the joint.

Below table gives the rating increments depending upon the joint characteristics and these
vary from 25 to 0.
S.N Joint description RMR
o increment
1 Very rough surfaces of limited extent, 25
hard wall rock
Ground 2 Slightly rough surface, aperture < 20 water
conditions: 1mm, hard wall rock
3 Slightly rough surface, aperture < 12
Ground water 1mm, soft wall rock conditions
can influence 4 Smooth surface, aperture of 1-5mm, 6 the rock mass
behavior to a joints extending more than several large extent
because of meters more
dependency 5 Open joints filled with more than 5mm 0 of rock
condition on of gauge, joints extending more than ground water.
The rock is several meters assigned the
category dry, moist, water
under moderate pressure or severe water problems and the rating increments vary from 10 to
0. If there is an exploratory adit or pilot tunnel then the RMR increment should also depends
on inflow per 10m length. It also depends on joint water pressure divided by major principal

S. General Inflow per 10m Joint water RM

N condition tunnel length pressure R
o (lit/min) divided by incr
major eme
principal nt
1 Completely None 0 10
2 Moist 25 0.0-0.2 7
3 Water under 25-125 0.2-0.5 4
4 Severe water 125 0.5 7

Orientation of joints:

Orientation of joints is the other parameter that considered for engineering purposes
especially for specific applications in tunneling, mining and foundations. If the orientation of
joints is very favorable for the work under consideration, no points are subtracted from the
sum. But, if they are unfavorable, then negative ratings are to be applied which are given in
the below table. The rating increments for tunnels are from 0 to 12 and for foundations 0 to

Orientation RMR RMR

of joints increment increment
condition for tunnels for
Very 0 0
Favorable -2 -2
Fair -5 -7
Unfavorabl -10 -15
Very -12 -25