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ENGINEERING GEOLOGY Chapter 4: Geological structures & discontinuities

in rock
Chapter 1.0: Introduction to engineering geology
Chapter 2.0: Rock classification
Igneous rocks
Earthsurface is still undergoing physical changes, in
Sedimentary rocks
both small- & continental-scale.
Metamorphic rocks
Chapter 3.0: Weathering & soils
Chapter 4.0: Geological structures & discontinuities Changes are result from the effect of geological
in rock. processes: weathering, erosion & tectonic forces.
Chapter 5.0: Ground Investigation.

Geological structures & discontinuities in rock

Geological structures & discontinuities in rock
The characteristics include presence of geological
Inresponding to the physical changes (e.g. state of structures & discontinuities in rock & the most important
stress) of the surroundings, a rock mass mass may in construction activities are: FOLDINGS, FAULTS &
deform or change its physical state.
These geological structures & discontinuities induce
Changes in rock mass include: expands if confining unfavorable state, weaknesses, & defect into rock
stress reduces; deforms plastically (ruptures) if bodies.
acting stress is larger than its strength; deforms
elastically (reshapes) if acting stress is smaller than A number of discontinuities are formed during formation
of the rock mass, e.g. bedding plane & joints.
its strength.
They affect rock mass behaviour when subjected to
As result, rock mass displays certain characteristics, loading ( e.g. stability of tunnel excavated in highly
indicating changes in the surrounding. jointed rock mass, compared to massive rock).

Folds: Folds:

Type of folding: symmetrical, non-symmetrical, over-

Folds only occur in clastic sedimentry rocks that turned & recumbent fold.
exhibit beddings/strata, in metamorphic rocks
originate from clastic sedimentary rocks, & volcanic Recumbent fold can affect sequence of bedding
rocks. arrangement (difficulties in verifying the relative age of

Beddings are weakness planes in rock relative Beddings are weakness planes which are originally
displacement can occur between bedding planes. horizontal. When folded the beddings become inclined
inclined weakness planes.
Folds is formed when bedded/stratified rock is
Important geometrical parameters of fold:
subjected to lateral compressive stress in the earth
Limbs; syncline & anticline; dip direction & dip of
crust. inclined beddings at the limbs.


Types of fold Geometrical features of fold

When rock strata are folded, they are under a state
of strain, this will induce remnant or residual stress Slope excavated in folded rock mass may exhibit
in the folded rock mass. instability inclined bedding plane at limbs.

For a symmetrical fold residual tensile stress

For petroleum industry, folded strata is the main
occurs in the upper portion of the fold, & residual
compressive stress in the lower portion. Usually, target area in exploring for an economic petroleum
tension tension cracks can be found at the crest. reservoirs.

For a deformed rock mass (e.g. folded), the in situ

stress field can become more complex presence
of remnant (geological) stresses.


Fault a fracture between two rock blocks where

there has been observable relative displacement.

Oneof the block can be displaced upwards or

downwards or even displaced laterally.

Faultcan occur in all types of rocks (whenever

cracks are present).

Important geometry of fault: dip direction of fault,

Inclined bedding planes in folded strata dip angle, strike & amount of displacement.


Associated displacements in formation of fault

Geometrical features of fault


Faults are classified based on their formation:

normal fault, reverse fault & strike-slip fault

Alarge scale displacement (few kms) may induce

metamorphism in the surrounding rock, forming
metamorphic rocks e.g. fault breccia & clay gouge.

Fault traversing a river gives rise to waterfall.

Springline is a result of groundwater flowing a long
a fault line.

Largefaults (10 20 km deep) can act as passage

for magma to flow upwards from the mantle. NORMAL & REVERSE FAULT

STRIKE - SLIP FAULT (horizontal displacement) Movements of fault


San Andreas Fault two continental plates Earthquake is produced by a sudden slip along
slide past one another interlocked fault line

Fault: Fault:

Ideally, the stress distribution in rock mass without

Formation of multiple large size faults is called fault
zone, may induce remnant or residual stress in host discontinuities (faults & fold), can be assumed in a
rock. state of hydrostatic stress (P gh); stresses are
equal in all directions.
Residual shear stress may occurs in rock bodies at
If faults are present in rock mass, stress in one
the vicinity of a fault zone.
direction may not be equal to stress in the opposite
direction (e.g. horizontal stresses , h).

Expansion of rock bodies due to reduction in
Joint is a fracture, separating two rock blocks, overburden stress, e.g. decreasing thickness of
where there is no observable (very small) materials covering a deep seated bed rock after
continuous & intensive weathering at the surface
displacement. sheet joints.

Formation of joints are associated with tensile Tensile stress acting at crest of a fold tension
stress within a rock body. The source the stresses cracks.
can be from any/all of the followings: For impermeable rock (e.g. granite) joint acts as a
secondary permeability.
Expansion & shrinking of a massive magma
body during cooling process joint sets that are As other fracture discontinuity in rock, joints are
perpendicular to each other. weakness planes in rock.


Joint in granite, intersecting of more than 2 joint sets Exposed joint surfaces

Joint are weakness planes, displacement can

Joint set in almost vertical in orientation occur along this discontinuity


Important geometrical parameters: dip angle, dip

direction, joint spacing & persistency. In terms of
scale joints are relatively smaller compared to fault
(few m).

A group of joints of almost similar orientation is

called JOINT SET.

Two or more joint sets intersecting each other is

termed as JOINT SYSTEM.

Ina joint system, if one joint set is more dominant

Joints are potential failure planes when there is than other sets, this set is called the primary set.
free face created in a rock mass, e.g. a cut slope


Joint set: 1 set & 3 sets, due to its nature granite

usually exhibit more than 3 sets of joint. Joint set


Strength of rock mass largely depends on the

density, orientation and extent of fractures (joint)
within it.

When the number of joint set increases the rock

mass strength decreases dramatically.

For less number of joint set (say 1 set), the

orientation of the joint plays a significant role on the
strength of the rock mass.

For an infinite number of joint set, with small joint

spacing, the rock mass properties approching that
of soil .
Effect of 1 joint set on uniaxial compressive
strength (UCS) of rock

Effect of multiple joints on UCS of rock in highly fractured

Effect of 2 joint sets on UCS of rock rock the strength may approach that of soil


The more is the number of joint sets in a rock
body, the weaker and more unstable is the rock. Intrusive igneous rock (e.g. granite) usually
exhibiting at least 3 sets of joint, a typical joint
Rock with more joint sets is easier (cheaper) to characteristic for massive & strong rock, which
excavate. Bed rock displaying multiple joint sets exhibits random minerals arrangement.
may not be suitable for foundation of large
For rocks displaying structured minerals
in hard rock are passage for weathering arrangement in certain orientation (lamination, slaty
agents (water, O2) to penetrate into rock thus, & schistosity), e.g sedimentary & metamorphic rock,
rocks with more joint sets are more easily the major joint sets are usually parallel to the
weathered compared to rock with less joint sets. mineral arrangement.

Types of structural Rock types

Igneous Sedimentary Metamorphic
Fault plane
Joint plane

Bedding plane -
Foliation - -
Slaty & schistosity - -


Voids -

Table 4.1: Types of discontinuity/weakness planes & and their

Fracture plane parallel to lamination (sandstone) formation in different rock types.

Thank you