A comprehensive site characterization exercise is essential for all types of geotechnical projects in the mining and heavy civil engineering sectors.
To be successful in rock engineering and geomechanics design, geomechanics practitioners must have an integrated knowledge of the site-specific geological setting and a comprehensive geomechanical ground behaviour model. At RockEng we advocate that the first and most important phase of any design exercise is to understand the geological conditions (lithology, structures, alteration, mineralization, hydrogeology – all of it!), and develop of a ‘ground behaviour model’ (a term describing used to describe the compilation of all available site geomechanical data). The exercise of data compilation, analysis, spatial interpretation, and identification of hazard implications ensures that the practitioner, or team of practitioners, tasked with a design study conceptualize the fundamental mechanics of the problem at the onset of engineering workflow. This not only helps to optimize data gathering and streamline the design process, but also facilitates pragmatic and meaningful design outcomes.
Rock mass classification data provides key input for geotechnical design of surface and underground excavations. If geotechnical designs are based on poor quality data, or poor interpretation of data, this may result in overly- or under-conservative designs.
Unfortunately, this may occur if data is collected by personnel without sufficient experience, expertise, and understanding of geotechnical parameters. For example, consider the implications to project safety and economics that can occur when design is based on poor quality geotechnical data. Overly conservative design can occur when the rock mass is characterized as poorer than actuality. This can result in higher support costs, project delays, and reduced productivity. Overly aggressive design can occur when the rock mass is characterized as higher quality than actuality. This can result in falls of ground – with the resultant risk of injuries or fatalities, damage to equipment, and production disruptions and delays. As can be deduced from the examples, inaccurate characterization of a rock mass can have significant impacts of project economics, timelines, and even safety. Properly performed data collection and interpretation can have major impacts on project design, construction and operations.
At RockEng, we offer a range of site characterization services performed by highly qualified, skilled professionals that will help you gain insight and understanding regarding your project site.