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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The objective of the course is to provide fundamental and advanced rock mechanics knowledges and tools necessary to engineering-geology design of open pit mines and underground excavations in rock masses.
Students learn to solve main engineering geology problems which can be encountered in professional practice. Students will learn to characterize the rock masses through geomechanical surveys and classification.
The main acquired knowledge will be:
the mechanics of rock and rock masses, their mechanical behaviour and the empirical, experimental and analytical methods used to quantify their characteristics. Special attention is dedicated to the simulation of the mechanical behaviour of rock masses as continuous and/or discontinuous media. Theoretical concepts are implemented in numerical exercises and by a in situ geomechanical survey.
The basic acquired abilities (that are the capacity of applying the acquired knowledge) will be:
- classification of rock masses;
- analysis of stresses under geostatic and tectonic conditions;
- interpretation of experimental results from laboratory tests;
- perform a geomechanical survey.


Previous knowledge from: Applied Geology, Geology II, Hydrogeology.

Course programme

The course forecasts 60 hours of teaching divided in frontal lectures, guided tutorial in the labs and a field trip.
Characterization of rock masses (12 h lectures + 8 h labs) through geomechanical surveys and classification systems;
Interpretation of experimental results from laboratory tests;
Analysis of stresses under geostatic and tectonic conditions;
geomechanical survey techniques;
Basic principles of surficial and underground excavation (6 h lectures + 8 h labs)
Evaluation of the slope stability conditions (6 h lectures + 12 h labs)
Use of numerical codes: RocLab (Rock mass strength analysis using the Hoek-Brown failure criterion); Dips.
The course includes an excursion (8 h field lab).

Didactic methods

The course is organized as follow:
frontal lectures on all the course’s topics;
numerical exercises on some the course topics;
a field trip finalized to the geomechanical survey of rock masses.

Learning assessment procedures

The aim of the exam is to verify at which level the learning objectives previously described have been acquired. Oral exam.

Reference texts

L. González de Vallejo, Geoingegneria, Pearson Ed., 2005, 717 pp.
E.Hoek Practical rock engineering, 2007; freeware at