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Assessing the Shear Strength of Rock Discontinuities at Laboratory and Field Scales

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This paper sets out an approach to assessing shear strength of rock joints at project scale based on measurement and analysis rather than empiricism. The role of direct shear testing in this process is discussed in detail and the need for dilation measurement and correction emphasised. Dilation-corrected basic friction angles are presented for various rock types. The characterisation of first and second order roughness features and their contribution to shear strength at project scale are discussed with reference to possible scale effects. The paper is illustrated by a case example of a spillway slope for a dam in the Himalayas.

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The permission by HCC Contractors (India) to use data from the Kishinganga HEP Project is gratefully acknowledged as is the assistance provided by the Contractor in the field and from engineers and engineering geologists from CH2MHILL (India) during field work. The design strategy for the slope in the case example was developed with Nick Swannell and Mike Palmer of CH2MHILL (UK). Shear tests reported here (raw data) were conducted at the University of Leeds by Kirk Handley, whose careful work is gratefully acknowledged.

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Hencher, S.R., Richards, L.R. Assessing the Shear Strength of Rock Discontinuities at Laboratory and Field Scales. Rock Mech Rock Eng 48, 883–905 (2015).

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