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International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708

Technical Note
Determination of the thermal conductivity of rock from
P-wave velocity
H.T. Ozkahraman a,
*, R. Selverb, E.C. I-ska
. ur
Department of Mining Engineering, Suleyman Demirel University, Cun . Campus, Isparta 32260, Turkey
. ur
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Suleyman Demirel University, Cun . Campus, Isparta 32260, Turkey
Accepted 2 January 2004

1. Introduction temperature. It follows that, for a prescribed tempera-

ture gradient, the conduction heat ux increases with
Energy conservation is an important part of any increasing thermal conductivity. Considering the physi-
national energy strategy and energy conservation in cal mechanism associated with conduction in general,
underdeveloped countries with inadequate resources is the thermal conductivity of a solid is larger than that of
even more important [1]. To an increasing extent, energy a liquid, which is larger than that of a gas [4]. For
usage, and more particularly, energy wastage is receiving example
close examination at present. Using natural rock with a * reclay brick has a thermal conductivity of 1.7 W/
low thermal conductivity improves insulation of build-
m K,
ings by providing an energy efcient solution. Also, * water at 300K has a thermal conductivity of 0.613 W/
knowledge of the thermal properties of rocks is
m K,
becoming more important as thermo-mechanical-hydro- * ice at 273K has a thermal conductivity of 1.88 W/
geological computer codes are being increasingly used in
m K,
rock mechanics studies. The hot plate method [2] is * air at 300K has a thermal conductivity of 0.026 W/
typical of the steady-state method of thermal conduc-
m K.
tivity measurement. The thermal conductivity is deter-
mined by the measurements of temperature gradient in As shown above, when water becomes ice its thermal
the rock and heat input [3]. conductivity increases three times. This trend is due
Guarding or correcting for heat losses is essential, as largely to differences in intermolecular spacing for the
well as accurate measurements of the heat ux. With low two states. The thermal conductivity is a transport
conductivity rock, the necessary steady-state conditions property, providing an indication of the rate at which
take a long time to achieve. Heat conduction follows energy is transferred by the diffusion process. So it
Fouriers law depends on the physical structure of matter, atomic and
molecular, which is related to the state of the matter.
q00 L
k : 1
dT=dx 1.1. The solid state
00 2
In Eq. (1), q is the heat ux (W/m ) and it is the heat
transfer rate in the x-direction per unit area perpendi- A solid is comprised of free electrons and of atoms
cular to the direction of transfer. It is proportional to bound in a periodic arrangement termed the lattice.
the temperature gradient, dT=dx: L is the thickness of Accordingly, transport of thermal energy is due to two
the wall in the x-direction. The proportionality constant effects: the migration of free electrons and lattice
k is known as the thermal conductivity (W/m K) and is a vibrational waves. These effects are additive, such that
characteristic of the material. The minus sign shows that the thermal conductivity k is the sum of the electronic
heat is transferred in the direction of decreasing component, ke, and the lattice component, kl.
k ke kl :
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +90-246-211-1238; fax: +90-246-237-
0859. It is known that ke is inversely proportional to the
E-mail address: (H.T. Ozkahraman). electrical resistivity re. For pure metals, which are of low

1365-1609/$ - see front matter r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
704 .
H.T. Ozkahraman et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708

re, ke is much larger than k1. Pure metals are good Table 1
conductors of electricity. In contrast, for alloys, which are Thermo-physical properties of building and insulating materials and
rocks at 300 K [4]
of substantially higher re, the contribution of kl to k is no
longer negligible. For non-metallic solids, k is determined Density (kg/m3) Thermal conductivity, k
primarily by kl, which depends on the frequency of (W/m K)
interactions between the atoms of the lattice. The Concrete (stone mix) 2300 1.40
regularity of the lattice arrangement has an important Cement mortar 1860 0.72
effect on kl, with crystalline (well-ordered) materials like Perlite 105 0.053
Wood (pine) 540 0.17
quartz having a higher thermal conductivity than
Plywood 545 0.12
amorphous materials like glass. In fact, for crystalline, Rock
non-metallic solids such as diamond and beryllium oxide, Granite (Barre) 2630 2.79
kl can be quite large, exceeding values of k associated Limestone (Salem) 2320 2.15
with good conductors such as aluminium. Marble (Halston) 2680 2.80
Quartzite (Sioux) 2640 5.38
Sandstone (Berea) 2150 2.90
1.2. Insulation systems

Thermal insulations are comprised of low thermal

conductivity materials combined to achieve an even referred to as thermo-physical properties and include
lower system thermal conductivity. In bre-, powder- two distinct categories, transport and thermodynamic
and ake-type insulations, the solid material is nely properties. The transport properties include the diffu-
dispersed throughout an air space. Such systems are sion rate coefcients such as k, the thermal conductivity
characterised by an effective thermal conductivity, (for heat transfer), and n, the kinematic viscosity (for
which depends on the thermal conductivity and surface momentum transfer). Thermodynamic properties, on
radiative properties of the solid material, as well as the the other hand, pertain to the equilibrium state of a
nature and volumetric fraction of the air or void space. system. Density (r) and specic heat Cp are two such
A special parameter of the system is its bulk density properties used extensively in thermodynamic analysis.
(solid mass/total volume), which depends strongly on The product rCp (J/m3 k), commonly termed the
the manner in which the solid material is interconnected volumetric heat capacity, measures the ability of a
and the percentage of pores in the solid. Therefore, material to store thermal energy. Because substances
porosity is a determinative parameter of the thermal with large density are typically characterised by small
conductivity. specic heats, many solids and liquids, which are very
If bonding or fusing portions of the solid material good energy storage media, have comparable heat
forms small voids or hollow spaces, a rigid matrix is capacities (rCp> 1 MJ=m3 K). Many rocks are also very
created when these spaces are sealed from each other, good energy storage media, in this aspect. Because of
and the system is referred to as a cellular insulation. their very small densities, however gases are poorly
Most of the lymra limestones are an example of such suited for thermal energy storage (rCpB1 kJ=m3 K).
rigid insulations. Evacuation of the air in the void space In heat transfer analysis, the ratio of the thermal
will reduce the effective thermal conductivity of the conductivity to the heat capacity is an important
system. On the other hand, the presence of water in the property termed the thermal diffusivity a, which has
pores will increase the effective thermal conductivity. units of m2/s
The internal structure of a rock having open and a k=rCp:
closed pores in its texture affects its heat transfer. The
heat transfer inside such a stone may have several modes It measures the ability of a material to conduct
of heat conduction, such as: conduction through the thermal energy relative to its ability to store thermal
solid materials; conduction or convection through the energy, Materials of large a will respond quickly to
air in the void spaces; and, if the temperature is changes in their thermal environment, while materials of
sufciently high, radiation exchange between the sur- small a will respond more sluggishly, taking longer to
faces of the solid matrix. The effective thermal reach a new equilibrium condition.
conductivity accounts for all of these processes. The
values for selected insulation systems are summarised in
Table 1. 2. The properties of rocks

1.3. Other relevant properties The mineralogy, grain size and porosity are the
intrinsic properties controlling rock strength. The rocks
In heat transfer, it is necessary to use several containing quartz as the binding material are the
properties of matter. These properties are generally strongest followed by calcite, ferrous minerals; rocks
H.T. Ozkahraman et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708 705

with clayey binding material are the weakest. In general, granite, andesite and sandy tuff. He concluded that
the higher the quartz content, the greater is the strength testing ten specimens can give 90% condence level in
[5]. The strength of rocks is greater for ner grained determining the strength of rock. Therefore, to test
rocks [6]. Compressive strength decreases with increase about 10 samples would be enough to accept the result
in porosity [5,7]. with high condence.
Solidied volcanic ashes namely tuffs (tuff stones) and
briquettes made from pumice, are used in Turkey in 2.1. Mechanical significance of porosity and density data
buildings as insulating material. These kinds of building
stones have a large percentage of porosity. On the other The presence of pores in the fabric of a rock material
hand, porous materials are good insulators of heat and decreases its strength, and increases its deformability. A
sound. small volume fraction of pores can produce an appreci-
The thermal properties of a rock depend primarily on: able mechanical effect.
Information on the porous nature of rock materials is
* Its mineral composition and constitution.
frequently omitted from petrological descriptions, but is
* Its structural and textural features. These include
required if these descriptions are to be used as a guide to
mineral size ne grained or coarse grained, mineral
mechanical performance. Sandstones and carbonate
shape and the presence of pores. Also the presence of
rocks in particular occur with a wide range of porosities
micro cracks.
and hence of mechanical character; igneous rocks that
* The amount of pore water present.
have been weakened by weathering processes also have
* The condition it is in, when tested (e.g., temperature,
typically high porosities.
water content).
Most rocks have similar grain densities and therefore
In bulk specimens of intact rock, the mechanical have porosity and dry density values that are highly
properties depend not only on the properties of the correlated. A low-density rock is usually highly porous.
individual minerals, but also upon the way in which the It is often sufcient, therefore, to quote values for
minerals are assembled. The relevant information is porosity alone. But a complete description requires
given by a full petrographic description, which includes values for both porosity and density.
the mineral composition of crystals, grains, pores and Samples were cut into cubes from several rock lumps.
cracks. The degree of isotropy or anisotropy is also The lump sizes are chosen to be large to minimise the
important and varies with the size of the body of rock effect of experimental error.
under consideration. For example, in schist, gneiss, and Bulk density determination was carried out according
other foliated rocks, the constitutive properties vary to I.S.R.M. Committee on Laboratory Tests, suggested
with direction even at the microscopic scale, and to the methods for determining physical properties such as
extent that the mechanical properties even of a small porosity or density [9]. Grain density is taken as density
specimen are affected. However, in sedimentary rocks, of solid component of the sample. The buoyancy
which are generally laminated, the rock within a lamina method is used to determine bulk volume using
may be relatively isotropic, where as at a scale that Archimedes principle, from the difference between
includes the separation between laminae, the same rock saturated-surface dry and saturated-submerged sample
may be relatively anisotropic. On the other hand, other weights. Grain mass or the mass of the solid part of the
rocks may be strongly anisotropic, even within very thin sample is obtained by oven drying at a temperature of
sheets. Primary anisotropy, brought about by prefer- 105 C.
ential orientation during crystallisation, or by recrys- Porosity was calculated from the bulk volume and
tallisation during sedimentation or metamorphic grain volume using the pulverisation method. This gave
processes, may be distinguished from secondary aniso- total porosity. Therefore, the pore volume obtained
tropy, brought about by geologic deformation of the includes that of the closed pores as well as the open
rock. pores. The ratio of the volume of interconnected pores
The number of specimens to be tested should of called open pores to bulk volume of the sample only
course be large enough to obtain a precise value. But to gives effective porosity value, which can be determined
limit the testing costs without sacricing the reliability of from water absorption quantity.
results, it is necessary to ascertain the minimum number
of specimens to be tested. In determining the number of
specimens to be tested, account must be taken of the 3. Thermal conductivity of rocks and minerals
variability of test results and the desired accuracy and
reliability of the mean value. Yamaguchi [8], analysed Clauser and Huenges [10] illustrated the various
this problem by using a statistical technique Decision of factors that inuence thermal conductivity in rocks
the sample number after carrying out experiments for and minerals in two ternary diagrams, as shown in
compressive and tensile strengths on three kinds of rock, Fig. 1. The diagrams relate different types of rocks with
706 .
H.T. Ozkahraman et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708

Quartz replaced by air and water, as the high variability of

= 7.7 Wm-1 K-1 porosity in these rocks is a major factor controlling their
thermal conductivity. Especially for sedimentary rocks,
Metamorphic rocks Plutonic rocks the controlling factors on thermal conductivity are
Quartzite porosity and origin of particular sediment. As far as
origin is concerned, chemical sediments, mainly formed
by precipitation of dissolved minerals or by compaction
ne of organic material, and low porosity (o about 30%)


ani orite
physical sediments formed by compaction and cementa-
To an

e n ali od tion of elastic material have relatively high thermal
Mafic minerals o te i
hib Dio conductivities. In contrast, high porosity (> about
Pyroxene rite Feldspars
A Sy 80%) mainly marine physical sediments display a
amphibole Gabb eni

olivine Dunite ro te
serpentine Serpentinite Anorthosite distribution which is biased towards low conductivities.
biolite kalifeldspar
= 2.5 to 5 Wm-1 K-1 = 1.5 to 2.5 Wm-1 K-1
4. Tests conducted in the laboratory
= 7.7 Wm-1 K-1
Tests were conducted in the laboratory on specially
prepared rock samples to determine a relation between
thermal conductivity and their physico-mechanical
properties. The types of rocks chosen are mainly used
e in building construction as a structural element or
Volcanic rocks
d s ton Sedimentary rocks
San cladding inside and outside walls. Thermal conductivity
ite tests conducted on 50 mm 50 mm as 30 mm thick
hyol hale plates at a temperature of 300 K. The P-wave velocity
Tu ite was measured on oven dried prismatic samples
ma f (ite des sal
t (50 50 160 mm3) using the Pundit apparatus. All
lim rine ) An Ba
sed ic Non quartz the rock specimens were oven dried in all tests. The bulk
. Carbonate
Airwater minerals density was found from the bulk volume. The bulk
= 0.02 to 0.6 Wm-1 K-1 = 1.5 to 5 Wm-1 K-1 volume of regular specimens was calculated using
(B) Archimedes principle, from the difference between the
Fig. 1. Thermal conductivity of basic rock-forming minerals and dry and submerged sample weights. During the tests, a
compositional relation with rock type. (A) Metamorphic and plutonic thermostatically controlled, ventilated drying oven
rocks, (B) Volcanic and sedimentary rocks. For volcanic and capable of maintaining a temperature of 105 C for a
sedimentary rocks, the third mineral phase is air or water, due to period of at least 24 h is required. After determination of
the importance of porosity for the thermal conductivity of these rocks,
Clauser and Huenges [10].
bulk volume and grain mass, the oven-dry sample is
pulverised and its grain volume is determined by
displacement of an equivalent volume of water in a
those factors that have the most pronounced effect on volumetric ask (picknometer). Porosity calculated
their thermal conductivity. Fig. 1A is for metamorphic from bulk volume and grain volume by this method is
and plutonic rocks; Fig. 1B is for volcanic and termed total porosity, since the pore volume obtained
sedimentary rocks. The different rocks are representa- includes that of closed pores. Porosity values given in
tive for various classes of rocks within each group, thus Table 2 are total porosity values including open and
representing the total spectrum of thermal conductivity closed pores.
in each group. Feldspars having low thermal conductiv- Cubic specimens with side lengths 40 and 100 mm are
ity and low variability are not further classied. The tested for compressive strength tests. Tests were carried
position of a rocks name in the compositional triangle out in accordance with procedures laid out in the
indicates, in a qualitative way, its thermal conductivity. I.S.R.M. Suggested Methods [9]. The results of tests
Metamorphic and plutonic rocks are made up of carried out are given in Table 2.
quartz, feldspars, and mac minerals, and the content of
minerals from these three groups basically determines a
rocks thermal conductivity since these rocks display a 5. Saving energy by using rock plates in buildings
much smaller porosity. Quartz content determines
conductivity since low conductivity associated with Energy efciency is a subject that needs to be
low quartz-content in metamorphic rocks. In volcanic considered by all engineering disciplines. To an increas-
and sedimentary rocks, the third mineral component is ing extent, energy usage, and more particularly, energy
H.T. Ozkahraman et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708 707

Table 2
Laboratory determined thermal conductivity, compressive strength, porosity, density and P-wave velocity values of various rock types

Type of rock Thermal conductivity P-wave velocity (m/s) Porosity (%) Bulk density (kg/m3) Uniaxial compressive
(W/m K) at 300 K strength (MPa)

Burdur beige 2.7 6300 1.82 2690 84.8

Bucak travertine 1.6 5400 2.3 2550 57.0
Lymra limestone 0.8 4300 13.2 2430 44.0
Andesite 0.64 3600 16 2240 50.6
AAC blokea 0.186 1800 84 500 3.43
AAC is autoclaved aerated concrete (Ytong) which is a structural, insulating building material made of a combination of cement, lime, gypsum
and a siliceous material.

Thermal Conductivity, (K),W/mK

wastage is receiving close examination. By using stones
Thermal conductivity versus P-Wave Velocity
of a low thermal conductivity the insulation of buildings 3
is improved providing an energy efcient solution. 2.5
The increase in limestone usage depends on supply 2
and demand in the natural stone market. The early
historical use of stones at the beginning was just placing
one stone on top of another as a massive construction 0
without paying much attention to costs as today. Later, 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000
to achieve larger spaces, people begin to choose the P-Wave Velocity,m/s
shape, position and installation of stone. So builders y = 0.0681e0.0006x
sought stable ways to make the pieces stay together; this R2 = 0.9944

led to masonry stone workshops. However, the raw Fig. 2. Thermal conductivity versus P-wave velocity.
materials can become expensive due to scarcity and
hence increased costs. So builders had to optimise the
Thermal Conductivity versus Porosity
stone and make it thinner, smaller and more even.
Thermal Conductivity,(K), W/mK

Therefore natural stones lost their role as a foundation
element and other materials such as concrete were used
for this purpose and stones begin to be used for cladding
interiors and exteriors. Today, cement mortar, together
with chemical additives, is still used to attach the stone
to the support wall. Now, even thinner stone panels and
faster building techniques are being used. Research is 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
still centred on how to reduce weight, save labour and Porosity,%
ofcourse, costs. So new technology involves either y = 3.4934x
R2 = 0.97
reducing stone to the thinnest possible sizes or using
lightweight limestones like lymra limestone, since it has Fig. 3. Thermal conductivity versus porosity.
a lower thermal conductivity coefcient and is lighter
due to low bulk density.

thermal conductivity of any rock can readily be

6. Conclusions calculated from laboratory determined P-wave velocity,
from the relation
The graphs of thermal conductivity against P-wave
Y 0:0681e0:0006 x : 2
velocity, porosity, density and compressive strength
have been presented. From the graphs it can be seen Thermal conductivity values of 0.75, 1.37 and 2.49 W/
that, P-wave velocity, bulk density and compressive (m K) are obtained by inserting 4000, 5000 and 6000 m/s
strength of the rock specimens are directly proportional values in Eq. (2). Prediction from P-wave velocity is
to thermal conductivity and porosity is inversely easier than measuring thermal conductivity on larger
proportional to thermal conductivity. plates of 500 500 30 mm3 plates, which takes longer
Among the relations, thermal conductivity against P- time and requires larger plates to prepare. In conduc-
wave velocity (Fig. 2) has the best correlation R tivity tests to reach steady-state conditions takes a
0:9944 (i.e. is nearest to unity). This means that the longer time.
708 .
H.T. Ozkahraman et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 41 (2004) 703708

Thermal Conductivity versus Density curve as given below:

Thermal Conductivity,(K),W/mK

Y 0:0979 e0:001 x ; R2 0:8331: 4
2 The thermal conductivity versus compressive strength
curve was also an exponential curve (Fig. 5) given by
1 Y 0:1677 e0:0005 x and R2 0:9375: 5
0.5 Energy conservation in buildings by using natural
0 rocks that have low thermal conductivity will reduce
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000
energy requirements and reduce fossil fuel combustion
and the associated polluting products. The limestone
y = 0.0979e0.001x
R2 = 0.8331 usage will increase due to its high demand in the natural
stone market.
Fig. 4. Thermal conductivity versus density.

Thermal Conductivity,(K),W/mK

Thermal Conductivity versus Compressive Strength

3 [1] Hasan A. Optimising insulation thickness for buildings using
2.5 life cycle cost. Applied energy, vol. 63. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1999.
2 p. 11524.
[2] British Standards Institute. Determining thermal insulating
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874, 1986.
0.5 [3] ASTM C. 1045-90. Practice for the calculation of thermal
0 transmission properties from steady state heat ux measurements.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Pennsylvania, USA: American Society for Testing and Materials;
Compressive Strength,MPa 1990.
y = 0.1677e0.0335x [4] Incropera FP, Dewitt DP. Fundamentals of heat and mass
R2 = 0.9375 transfer. New York: Wiley; 1990.
[5] Price NJ. The compressive strength of coal measure rocks. Coll
Fig. 5. Thermal conductivity versus compressive strength. Eng 1960;37:28392.
[6] Brace WF. Dependence of fracture strength of rocks on grain size.
Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium on Rock Mechanics.
University of Park, Pennsylvania, PA, 1961. p. 99103.
[7] Smorodinov MI, Motovilov EA, Volkov VA. Determinations of
Also, the thermal conductivity versus porosity curve correlation relationships between strength and some physical
(Fig. 3) has a correlation coefcient close to unity R2 characteristics of rocks. Proceedings of the Second Congress of
0:97; indicating a meaningful relation the International Society of Rock Mechanics, vol. 2. Belgrade;
1970. p. 357.
Y 3:4934 x0:6369 ; R2 0:97: 3 [8] Yamaguchi U. The number of test pieces required to determine
the strength of rock. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 1970;7(2):20927.
The thermal conductivity versus density relation is not [9] I.S.R.M. Committee on Laboratory Tests. Suggested methods for
as good as the porosity and P-wave relations, since the determining water content, porosity, density, absorption and
bulk densities of natural rocks do not differ much, related properties, Int J Rock Mech Min Sci & Geomech Abstr,
1972. p. 12.
(22402690) as shown in Fig. 4. The minerals constitut- [10] Clauser C, Huenges & E. Thermal conductivity of rocks and
ing the solid part of these rocks have close specic minerals, Washington, USA: American Geophysical Union; 1995.
gravity values. The data were tted to an exponential p. 10526.