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ARMA 08-207

Effect of Weathering on Strength and Modulus of Basalt and Siltstone


Gu, D. X.
Sinclair Knight Merz, Armadale, Vic. AU

Tamblyn, W.
Sinclair Knight Merz, Armadale, Vic. AU

Lamb, I.
Jacobs Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA

Ramsey, N.
Sinclair Knight Merz, Armadale, Vic. AU
Copyright 2008, ARMA, American Rock Mechanics Association This paper was prepared for presentation at San Francisco 2008, the 42nd US Rock Mechanics Symposium and 2nd U.S.-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium, held in San Francisco, June 29July 2, 2008. This paper was selected for presentation by an ARMA Technical Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted earlier by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by ARMA and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of ARMA, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of ARMA is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgement of where and by whom the paper was presented.

ABSTRACT: Engineering properties, such as Unconfined Compressive Strength (UCS), qu and Youngs Modulus, E, of mass rock have a significant effect on project design and construction operation of the rock-structure interface. A better understanding the rock engineering properties can provide a base for a more rational approach to design of civil engineering works. The estimation of rock engineering properties has historically relied on subjective assessments of rock mass quality and measurements of intact values. A recent project in Melbourne, Australia, has provided an opportunity to test rock core-samples from nearly 200 boreholes along an approximately 12 kms length of a sewerage tunnel alignment in both Siltstone and Basalt. This paper presents some previously unpublished laboratory testing data on the engineering properties of Siltstone and Basalt. Also included is an examination of the important influence of moisture content and the degree of weathering on the mechanical properties - particularly the qu and E parameters. The present findings show a good agreement with the results of previous studies on the mechanical properties of both Siltstone and Basalt.

1. INTRODUCTION
The assessment of overall modulus (or stiffness) and strength of a fractured weak to moderately strong rock mass is a key parameter in the design of civil engineering works in these materials. It also provides the highest level of uncertainty due to scale effects, anisotropy and the influence of joint frequency and joint stiffness. Rock mass properties are difficult to measure directly and their estimation has historically relied on subjective assessments of rock mass quality and measurements of intact values. The Northern Sewerage Project (NSP) is being developed by Melbourne Water and Yarra Valley Water to address future sewerage requirements for the Upper Merri Creek and North Darebin Creek Catchments in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The NSP involves the construction of approximately 12 kms of sewer tunnel consisting of several alignment sections, with eight main shafts and tunnel connections. The main features of the Project include a gravity sewer tunnel and

several permanent access shafts. The location of the Project is shown on Figure 1. As shown in Figure 1, the NSP is in an urban area, with commercial and residential development. There were approximately 200 geotechnical investigation boreholes carried out along the sewerage alignment with depth in a range of 30m to 80m. Both insitu and laboratory testing performed on borehole and soil/rock core specimens, such as Borehole Image Processing (BIP), Gamma logging, Packer & Slug testing and unconfined compressive strength (UCS), Point Load Index (PLI), Static Middle-third Ring Youngs Modulus, Sonic Velocity (P and S waves) and Dynamic Youngs Modulus etc. This paper is only concentrated on the laboratory test of rock core specimens, in particular, the effect of weathering (moisture content) on strength and compressibility parameters, such as UCS and Modulus of Basalt and Siltstone.

Fig. 1 - Project location

2. GEOLOGICAL FORMATION
The geology of the NSP area is characterised by a mixed sequence of sedimentary and volcanic materials. Basement rocks in the area are of Silurian Age and mainly comprise interbedded siltstones and sandstones of the Melbourne Formation, referred to herein as the Silurian Formation [1, 2]. These Silurian basement rocks have been subjected to extensive weathering and erosion resulting in an undulating surface with a variable weathering profile. Following erosion during the early Tertiary, marine and non-marine sediments of the Brighton Group Formation were deposited over the Silurian rocks. These sediments typically comprise quartz sands and clays that locally contain iron-oxide cemented zones or nodules. During the late Tertiary Period (Pliocene) deeply incised valleys developed, cutting through the early Tertiary sediments and into the Silurian basement rock. The

valleys were filled with sediments, referred to as subbasalt alluvium, and basalt lava flows. The basalt flows, range in consistency from finely crystalline massive rock to a vesicular (honeycombed with gas bubble cavities) porous material. Tuff and scoria have been observed within these lava flows. The basalt flowed not only in the valleys but spilled over the entire landscape during the late Tertiary and early Quaternary Periods. Erosion of the resulting basalt-capped plateau produced the Monee Ponds and Merri Creek valleys, which contain recent (Quaternary) sediments ranging in thickness from a few meters to greater than 15 m [1,2]. The Tertiary basalts are essentially flat-lying, while the underlying Silurian rocks are characterised by a series of folds with north to north-easterly strikes [3]; a trend that is reflected by similar bedding orientations recorded by down-hole borehole logging along the NSP alignment. Discontinuities, particularly in the Silurian rocks, include partings or joints parallel to the bedding and steeply dipping joint sets approximately normal to bedding. Minor faults and shears are present, though

previously mapped structural features of this type are not specifically known in the project area. Fracture zones, breccia zones, and steeply dipping dykes typically weathered to clay are also present in the Silurian rocks. A typical geological cross section is shown in Figure 2 [4]. The borehole locations and tunnel alignment are also superimposed on Figure 2. Both basalt (Newer Volcanics) and siltstone (Silurian) consist of a wide

range of weathering grades, Extremely Weathered (EW), Highly Weathered (HW), Moderate Weathered (MW), Slightly Weathered (SW) and Fresh Rock (FR). The types and sequence of materials encountered by the drilling for the NSP project are generally consistent with the geology map of Melbourne Victoria. Kenley [5] stated that at some locations the Brighton Group comprise Black Rock Sandstone Formation and Red Bluff Sands Formation.

Fig. 2 - Typical geological cross section of NSP [4]

3. STRENGTH AND MODULUS OF BASALT 3.1. Unconfined Compressive Strength More than 200 tests to measure the intact rock strength, qu, of the basalt were performed on core specimens recovered from the project drilling investigations. The basalt cores tested were of variable moisture content and weathering grade, assessed by visual inspection. The intact rock strength
tests included both Unconfined Compressive Strength (UCS), for the direct measurement of the rock qu value, and Point Load Index (PLI) tests. The PLI test provides an index number (I50) that can be used to estimate the qu value of the rock, using a multiplier factor, when

correlated with the UCS test results. Figure 3 shows the test results of UCS (qu) versus moisture content (%) and weathering grades (EW to FR) of the basalt. Figure 4 shows the test results of PLI versus moisture content and weathering grades.

FR-SW

SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW

HW-EW

ratio of UCS/PLI is in a range of 6 to 40 for basalt and appears to correlate with the degree of weathering.
EW-HW HW HW-MW MW-SW SW SW-FR

300

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, (UCS) qu (MPa)

250

Basalt (qu) 0 to 15

100

Basalt (qu/I50) 0 to 15

200

150

Ratio of UCS/PLI, qu/I50


0 5 10 15 20 25

10

100

50

Moisture content (%)

Fig. 3 UCS versus Moisture content (Basalt)


FR-SW SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW HW-EW

1 0.1

10

100

1000

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, qu (MPa)

Fig. 5 Variation of qu/I50 with UCS (Basalt)

15

3.2. Youngs Modulus


12

Basalt (I50) 0 to 15

Point Load Index, I50 (MPa)

Empirical relationships to assess rock mass modulus based on intact rock strength (uniaxial compressive strength, qu) have been proposed by a number of authors [eg. 6, 7]. The test results of secant Youngs Modulus (E) of the basalt versus moisture content (%) is shown in Figure 6. Similar to UCS, there is a clear trend of decrease in Modulus with an increase in the moisture content. The variation of the ratio (E/qu) with qu is shown in Figure 7. From the limited results, it indicates that the ratio of (E/qu) increases with the increasing of qu, and the ratio is in a range of 70 to 600 which is consistent with the published data [8].

0
0 5 10 15 20 25

Moisture Content (%)

Fig. 4 I50 versus Moisture content (Basalt)

From Figures 3 and 4, a clear trend of UCS (or PLI) deceases with the moisture content increases. The data indicates some scatter which we believe can be attributed to variations in the vesicularity of the samples tested. The ratio of UCS/PLI with the UCS of basalt is shown in Figure 5. A general trend of the ratio (UCS/PLI) increases with the UCS value increasing. The

FR-SW

SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW

HW-EW

(EW to FR) of the siltstone, while Figure 9 shows the test results of PLI (I50) versus moisture content (%).
FR-SW SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW HW-EW

200

Basalt (E) 0 to 15
150

100

Youngs Modulus, E (GPa)

Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS), qu (MPa)

80

Siltstone (qu) 0 to 15

100

60

50

40

0
0 5 10 15 20 25

Moisture Content (%)

20

Fig. 6 Youngs Modulus versus moisture content (Basalt)


EW-HW HW HW-MW MW-SW SW SW-FR

0
1000
0 5 10 15 20 25

Moisture content (%)

Fig. 8 UCS versus Moisture content (Siltstone)

FR-SW SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW

HW-EW

Ratio of Modulus/UCS, E/qu

100

Siltstone (I50) 0 to 15

Point Load Index, I50 (MPa)

Basalt (E/qu) 0 to 15

10 0.1

10

100

1000

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, qu (MPa)

Fig. 7 Variation of E/qu with qu (Basalt)

4. STRENGTH AND MODULUS OF SILTSTONE 4.1. Unconfined Compressive Strength


Approximately 300 intact rock strength tests including Unconfined Compression Strength (UCS) and Point Load Index (PLI) tests were performed on siltstone core specimens obtained during the project drilling investigations. The siltstone cores tested were of variable moisture content and weathering grade assessed by visual inspection. Figure 8 shows the test results of UCS, (qu) versus moisture content (%) and weathering grades

0
0 5 10 15 20 25

Moisture content (%)

Fig. 9 I50 versus Moisture content (Siltstone)

From Figures 8 and 9, a clear trend of UCS (or PLI) decease with an increase of the moisture content of the sample is shown. Some scatter is indicated by the plotted data. The scatter shown by the plotted date is more pronounced in Figure 8, UCS vs. moisture content compared to Figure 9. This is considered to be due to the inclusion of all test data on this plot, including tests that failed on defects rather than through intact rock. For

these tests the UCS rock strength value will be lower relative to the moisture content. In comparison the PLI tests are more likely to provide results for the intact rock value and a reduced amount of scatter against moisture content. The ratio of UCS/PLI with the UCS of siltstone is shown in Figure 10. A general trend of the ratio (UCS/PLI) increase with the increase of the UCS value for the siltstone is shown by the Figure 10 plot. The ratio of UCS/PLI for the siltstone is in a range of 3 to 30 and appears to correlate with the degree of weathering.
EW-HW HW HW-MW MW MW-SW SW SW-FR

4.2. Youngs Modulus


The test results of secant Youngs Modulus of the siltstone versus moisture content is shown in Figure 11. Similar to basalt, there is a clear trend of a decrease in modulus with an increase of the moisture content. The variation of the ratio (E/qu) with qu is shown in Figure 12. From the results, there is an indication that the ratio of (E/qu) increases with the increase of qu. The ratio (E/qu) to qu is in the range of 100 to 900 which is consistent with the published data [9, 10].
EW-HW HW HW-MW MW MW-SW SW SW-FR

1000
100

Siltstone (qu/I50) 0 to 15

Ratio of UCS/PLI, qu/I50

Ratio of Modulus/UCS, E/qu

100

10

Siltstone 0 to 15

1 0.1

10 0.1
1 10 100

10

100

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, qu (MPa)

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, qu (MPa)

Fig. 12 Variation of E/qu with qu (Siltstone)

Fig. 10 Variation of qu/I50 with UCS (Siltstone)


FR-SW SW SW-MW MW MW-HW HW HW-EW

5. COMPARISON WITH PUBLISHISHED DATA


Chiu (1981) [9] presented the correlations for siltstone (Melbourne Mudstone) between the intact rock strength (qu) and intact rock modulus (E) (measured at 50% of peak load) with moisture content. The results are given in Figures 13 to 15. Reasonable correlations between qu and moisture content (Figure 13) and secant Youngs modulus and water content (Figure 14) exist but correlation between intact rock strength and E/qu shows considerable scatter (Figure 15). This scatter may be due to the use of all available test data in the analysis without discrimination for possible non-representative data. The results obtained from the NSP project study agree reasonably well with the published results.

50

40

Siltstone (E) 0 to 15

Youngs Modulus, E (GPa)

30

20

10

0
0 5 10 15 20 25

Moisture content (%)

Fig. 11 Youngs Modulus versus moisture content (Siltstone)

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, UCS (MPa)

6. SUMMARY
More than 500 intact rock strength Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS) and Point Load Index (PLI) laboratory tests were performed on both basalt and siltstone specimens obtained during the drilling investigations for the NSP. The important influence of moisture content and the degree of weathering on the mechanical properties, qu and E, is presented in this paper. A clear correlation between a decrease in strength and stiffness with the increase of moisture content for both rock types tested is shown. The scatter of the test results is probably indicative of the inclusion of test results biased by joint/fracture influences. The current findings agree reasonable well with published results. Correlations between rock strength and other factors such as color intensity or depth can not readily be made for this study data set. This is due primarily to the complex geological history of the Melbourne area and the processes that shaped the current configuration and condition of the rocks in it. A variation of qu/I50 is in a range of 5 to 40 for both basalt and siltstone, and E/qu is in a range of 100 and 400. Both ratios increase with the increase of rock strength.
Moisture Content (%)

Moisture Content (%)

Fig. 13 UCS vs Moisture content (Siltstone) [9]

Secant Youngs Modulus, E (GPa)

Fig. 14 Youngs Modulus vs Moisture content (Siltstone) [9]

Ratio of Modulus/UCS (E/qu)

Table 1 presents a summary of proposed unconfined compressive strength (qu), ratio of E/qu () and Youngs Modulus (E) at different moisture content conditions and rock weathering grades. This summary is based on the data presented in this study for both the basalt and siltstone rock. This summary is considered to be representative of the properties for these rock types throughout the Melbourne area. .

Uniaxial Compressive Strength, UCS (MPa)

Fig. 15 Variations of E/qu with UCS (Siltstone) [9]

Table 1. Engineering properties of Basalt and Siltstone


Rock type Weathering grade EW-HW HW HW-MW MW MW-SW SW SW-FR EW-HW HW HW-MW MW MW-SW SW SW-FR Moisture content (%) >12 10-12 8-10 6-8 4-6 2-4 <2 >11 9-11 7-9 5-7 3-5 1-3 <1 qu (MPa) 1 2 3 4.5 8 15 30 4 10 25 50 90 150 250 n (E /qu) 100 105 110 135 180 250 400 100 125 160 200 250 300 400 E (MPa) 100 210 330 608 1440 3750 12000 400 1250 4000 10000 22500 45000 100000

Siltstone

Basalt

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors gratefully acknowledge the permission from Melbourne Water and Yarra Valley Water for this publication, and partially financial support to the first author for preparing this paper provided by Sinclair Knight Merz.

Gu X. F and C. H. Haberfield (2004). Laboratory investigation of shaft resistance for piles socketed in basalt. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences Special issue: SINOROCK 2004.

9 Chiu H. K. (1981). Geotechnical Properties and Numerical analyses for socketed pile design in weak rock. PhD Thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Australia, 1981 10 Benson, N. D., and C. H. Haberfield. (2003), Assessment of mass modulus of a weathered argillaceous rock. ISRM 2003Technology roadmap for rock mechanics, South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2003.

REFERENCES
1 SKM-JA (2006a). Northern Sewerage Project Stage 1 Geotechnical & Hydrogeological Factual Report GFR. Final report prepared by SKM-JA for Melbourne Water, April 2006. SKM-JA (2006b). Northern Sewerage Project Stage 2 Geotechnical & Hydrogeological Factual Report GFR. Final report prepared by SKM-JA for Yarra Valley Water, December 2006. Peck W. A., J. R. Neilson , R. J. Olds, K. D. Seddon (1992) Engineering Geology of Melbourne, Balkema, Rotterdam.

4 JA-SKM (2006). Northern Sewerage Project Stages 1& 2 Geotechnical Baselinel Report GBR. Final report prepared by JA-SKM for Melbourne Water and Yarra Valley Water, December 2006. 5 6 Vicmap Kenley, www.mapsdownunder.com.au/cgibin/mapshop/VM25-7528-2-4.html Deere D. U. (1968). Geological Considerations. Rock Mechanics in engineering practice. Edds Staff K.G. and Ziekiewicz O.C., Toby Wiley & Sons, p 1-20 Hobbs N. B. (1974). Settlement of foundations on rock. General Report. Proc. British Geotech Society Conf on Settlement of Structures, Cambridge, pp 98-529