Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 1975–1989 | Cite as

Selecting Equivalent Strength for Intact Rocks in Heterogeneous Rock Masses

  • Mahmoud Behnia
  • Ahmad Rahmani Shahraki
  • Zabihallah Moradian
Original Paper


Many surface and underground structures are constructed in heterogeneous rock formations. These formations have a combination of weak and strong rock layers. Due to the alternation of the weak and strong layers, selecting the equivalent and appropriate geomechanical parameters for these formations is challenging. One of these problems is choosing the equivalent strength (i.e., uniaxial compressive strength) of intact rock for a group of rocks. Based on the volume of weak and strong parts and their strength, the equivalent strength of heterogeneous rocks changes. Marinos and Hoek (Bull Eng Geol Environ 60(2):85–92, 2001) presented the “weighted average method” for defining the uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) of heterogeneous rock masses based on the volume of weak and strong parts. Laubscher (1977) used the volume ratio of the strength of a weak part to a strong part (UCS weak/UCS strong) to determine the equivalent strength. In this study, the two methods are compared and their validity is evaluated by experimental data and numerical analyses. The geomechanical parameters of two heterogeneous formations (Aghajari and Lahbari) in the west of Iran were estimated using these methods. The results of the present study obtained through numerical analyses using particle flow code are compared with those of previous studies and discussed. Laboratory and numerical results show UCS decrease and approach to weak strength with an increasing in volume of weak part. When strength ratio of strong to weak rock increase, equivalent strength decrease more severely. The findings show that Laubscher’s method gives more appropriate results than the weighted average method.


Heterogeneous rocks Uniaxial compressive strength Weighted average method GSI Geomechanical parameters Numerical analysis PFC 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahmoud Behnia
    • 1
  • Ahmad Rahmani Shahraki
    • 1
  • Zabihallah Moradian
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mining EngineeringIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Resources Lab (ERL)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)CambridgeUSA

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