Practical Rock Mechanics: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Practical Rock Mechanics

1st Edition

By Steve Hencher

CRC Press

356 pages | 31 Color Illus. | 317 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781482217261
pub: 2015-09-18
SAVE ~$18.59
Hardback: 9781138430396
pub: 2017-07-27
SAVE ~$41.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429068317
pub: 2015-08-28
from $44.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


An Ideal Source for Geologists and Others with Little Background in Engineering or Mechanics

Practical Rock Mechanics provides an introduction for graduate students as well as a reference guide for practicing engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers. The book considers fundamental geological processes that give rise to the nature of rock masses and control their mechanical behavior. Stresses in the earth’s crust are discussed and methods of measurement and prediction explained. Ways to investigate, describe, test, and characterize rocks in the laboratory and at project scale are reviewed. The application of rock mechanics principles to the design of engineering structures including tunnels, foundations, and slopes is addressed. The book is illustrated throughout with simple figures and photographs, and important concepts are illustrated by modern case examples. Mathematical equations are kept to the minimum necessary and are explained fully—the book leans towards practice rather than theory.

This text:

  • Addresses the principles of rock mechanics as it applies to both structural geology and engineering practice
  • Demonstrates the importance of and methods of geological characterisation to rock engineering
  • Examines the standard methods of rock mechanics testing and measurement as well as interpretation of data in practice
  • Explains connections between main parameters both empirically as well as on the basis of scientific theory
  • Provides examples of the practice of rock mechanics to major engineering projects

Practical Rock Mechanics teaches from first principles and aids readers’ understanding of the concepts of stress and stress transformation and the practical application of rock mechanics theory. This text can help ensure that ground models and designs are correct, realistic, and produced cost-effectively.


"in my opinion, the great strength of this book, and the feature that distinguishes it from any other book that I am familiar with in the field of rock mechanics and rock engineering, is its emphasis on (these) basic geological factors and their influence, often their over-riding influence, on the design and performance of engineering projects constructed in and on rock. … I know of no other book that explains as thoroughly or as well the centrally important relationship between the geological history and the resulting geological features of a site on the one hand, and the investigation, design, construction and performance on an engineering project on the other."

—Professor Edwin T Brown AC, Senior Consultant, Golder Associates Pty Ltd, Brisbane, Australia, Emeritus Professor, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, President, International Society for Rock Mechanics, 1983-87

"Steve Hencher's book has an Earth scientists approach to practical rock mechanics and his in-depth knowledge of geological structures and mechanical properties of rock material offer an excellent introduction to rock mechanics and rock engineering. … excellent case studies from civic works, mines and underground constructions. … written so that students with a basic knowledge in geology can follow the more mechanistic parts and apply the knowledge to rock engineering problems and field cases.

—Ove Stephansson, GFZ Potsdam, Germany and SRC Berlin

"… gives very good description of the rock materials and rock mass. It is very suitable for civil engineers."

—Jian Zhao, Monash University

Table of Contents

Introduction to rock mechanics


Differentiating between soil and rock

Mechanics of failure

Classification of intact rock

Compressive strength of weak rock

Origins of shear strength in intact rock

Shear strength parameters for the sample in Figure

Stability of a cut slope in weak rock

Discontinuities in rock masses

The importance of discontinuities to stability

Early lessons and the relevance of rock mechanics

Application of rock mechanics

History of the subject area

Rock mechanics as a scientific discipline

Load changes

Fundamental mechanics


Mohr circle representation of stress-state

Stress concentration in underground openings

Stresses below foundations

Effective stress

Rock deformation and behaviour

Direct shear

Simple shear and associated rock structures

Surface features on rock fractures

Conclusions to this section

Geological processes and the nature of rock masses


Earth stresses



Rock textures, fabrics and effect on properties

Rock joints and other discontinuities

Major geological structures

Hydrogeology of rock masses


Fundamental concepts and definitions

Hydraulic conductivity and permeability

Measuring hydraulic conductivity

Typical parameters

Unconfined and confined aquifers and storage

Compartmentalisation, aquicludes and aquitards

Flow paths

Characterisation and prediction of hydrogeological conditions for projects


Hydrogeological modelling

Characterising rock for engineering purposes


Initial stages of site investigation

Field mapping

Trial excavations

Discontinuity surveys

Remote measurement


Rose diagrams

Stereographic interpretation

Roughness measurement

Ground investigation techniques

Description and classification of rocks

Rock mass classifications

Interpreting ground conditions and reporting

Contracts for construction

Instrumentation and monitoring

Properties and parameters for design



Role of index testing

Basic characterisation

Rock strength and its measurement

Rock deformability

Rock shear strength at mass scale

Hydraulic conductivity and related parameters

Foundations on rock


Design of shallow foundations

Difficult sites

Deep foundations

Case example: The Izmit Bay crossing: Rock engineering for the anchorage of a major suspension bridge

Site formation

Rock slopes


Design of engineering works

Slope formation


Open-pit slopes

Underground excavations


Difference between tunnels and caverns

Stability categories for underground excavations




Cavern construction

Conversion factors (to two decimal places)


About the Author

Steve Hencher is research professor in engineering geology at the University of Leeds, UK, and an honorary professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Up until recently, he was a director of Halcrow (China) and head of Geotechnics in the Hong Kong Office for approximately ten years. Previously, he worked with Bechtel on the design of the high-speed railway in South Korea and for the Geotechnical Control Office of the Hong Kong Government. He also spent 12 intervening years teaching an MSc course in engineering geology and conducting research at the University of Leeds.

About the Series

Applied Geotechnics

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: