Rock mass classification for pre-excavation support planning and at-face excavation performance assessment

Rock Engineering 2009 - Rock Engineering in Difficult Conditions
Abstract The rock mass classification systems were developed for different functions, including support selection, excavation method selection and the determination of rock mass engineering properties for excavation design, among others. This explains in part why we have several rock mass classification systems. It is often cautioned that the rock mass classifications are to be used for preliminary excavation support design, but this caution is now often overlooked and detail/final support design based on the rock mass classification systems. This paper advocates differentiating between rock mass classification for pre-excavation support planning and rock mass classification for at-face excavation performance assessment. It is concluded that most at-face excavation performance problems are attributable to confusing the virgin rock mass rating with the rock mass rating on exposure during excavation, and that this observation is independent of the method of excavation. Procedures are then presented for virgin rock mass rating and for at-face rock mass rating/assessment during excavation.
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