Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
CARTER, T.G.; DIEDERICHS, M.S. and CARVALHO, J.L.. Application of modified Hoek-Brown transition relationships for assessing strength and post yield behaviour at both ends of the rock competence scale. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2008, vol.108, n.6, pp. 325-338. ISSN 2411-9717.
Support system design for tunnels and underground excavations has for many years relied heavily on the use of rock mass classification systems and the Hoek-Brown failure criterion as a means for characterizing rock mass behaviour. Because of their development, both the GSI system and the Hoek-Brown criterion admirably characterize most 'normal' rockmasses from the viewpoint of their behaviour for rock excavations. They, however, run into difficulties when applied at the two ends of the rock competence scale. This is largely because block size and incipient strength are such that rock mass behaviour in these domains tends not to be controlled by interblock shear strength but rather by material strength. At the low end of the rock competence scale (UCSi << 15 MPa and GSI generally <30) discontinuities play less of a role and rock mass strength tends to matrix strength. Similarly, at the high end of the scale (GSI >> 65, mi >> 15), because discontinuities are now widely spaced, block size becomes so significant that again, intact material behaviour rather than the fracturing becomes the dominant factor controlling rock mass strength. In this paper several case examples are presented to illustrate the application of the high-end (spalling) and low-end (weak ground) transition Hoek-Brown relationships proposed by Carter, Diederichs and Carvalho (2007) as a basis for better defining rock mass behaviour at the extreme ends of the rock competence scale.