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Geology 659

GEOL 659
Principles of Rock Mechanics

Catalog Entry

GEOL 659. Principles of Rock Mechanics
Three hours lecture/discussion (3).

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and GEOL 455 or 555 (Principles of Engineering Geology).

Investigations into the principles describing the mechanical response of rock media to stress, particularly human-induced stresses. Included are the application of rock characterization; scale effect; in-situ stresses; mechanisms of rock deformation and fracture; and rock engineering.


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

The course is designed as an elective in the comprehensive graduate-level study of engineering geosciences. The topics and concepts addressed in this course include:

1. Origin and distribution of rock, rock types
2. Geologic processes that alter rock
3. Rock classification systems
4. Rock ID, characteristics testing
5. Fundamental concepts of mechanics

a. Vectors, force, stress, equilibrium, moduli, Mohr’s circles

6. Behavior of solid rock

a. Stress/strain, strength testing

7. Behavior of discontinuous rock

a. Discontinuities, mapping of discontinuities, strength testing

8. Field techniques

a. Drilling, sampling, instrumentation, mapping, geophysics

9. Mitigation

a. Monitoring, support, protection, grout, blasting

10. Computer modeling


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The course will include three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory each week. The lecture portion will cover topics in a structured progression divided into three distinct realms of rock mechanics. Video presentations as well as slides will be used to illustrate specific case histories in rock mechanics. The laboratory portion will include both field oriented and indoor laboratory exercises. Homework problems will be assigned weekly from the textbook and students will share in presenting solutions to the class. A research project that requires both a written paper, in the format of the Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists, and an oral presentation will be required.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The general goals and objectives are to:

1. Increase understanding of applications of principles in rock mechanics, both in a theoretical context and in practical application toward solving real engineering geologic problems involving rock properties.
2. Gain experience in designing and implementing remediation strategies for dealing with unusual rock mechanics situations and challenges that may be encountered in real life situation.
3. Strengthen quantitative and mathematical competency with regard to numerical computation, graphic visualization, and analytical problem solving.
4. Further familiarity with the rock mechanics literature, principally journals and collected papers in proceedings and the like. The use of online informational databases and web searching with be required.
5. Increase effectiveness in technical writing and report preparation. This emphasizes not only good English writing style but also presentation of precise and concise reports as required today in the engineering geologic fields.
6. Gain further experience in making oral presentations supported with graphical aids, particularly computer-generated graphics make by the students.


Assessment measures

There will be two examinations. These will combined with grades from laboratory assignments, homework problems, and the research project to determine the final grade. Projects will be evaluated by the instructor on the basis of thoroughness of research, completeness in presentation, organization and quality of the final paper; and, organization and quality of the final oral presentation.


Other course information



Review and Approval

April 2000 Approved by chair