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Estimation of Rock Mass Strength Using the Synthetic Rock Mass (SRM) Approach and Particle Flow Modelling

Andres Huaman and Esteban Hormazabal
Monday, October 12, 2015
First presented: 
Slope Stability 2015, October 12 - 14, 2015. Cape Town, South Africa
Published paper
Rock Mechanics

Significant developments in numerical modelling have been achieved during the last decade, but validation of these techniques is required to build up confidence. As these developments represent a significative advance for mining geomechanics, this paper focuses on the application of the relatively recent 3D particle flow code (PFC3D) using the synthetic rock mass (SRM) approach to simulate the mechanical behaviour of not only intact rock, but also rock masses. In this approach, rock mass samples are generated and tested by using these techniques; the obtained rock mass strength assessment is then crosschecked and compared to results obtained from applying empirical and worldwide-accepted rock mass strength criteria such as Hoek-Brown. The main rock properties of the samples to be analysed include the mechanical response under triaxial stress conditions, anisotropy, modulus, damage threshold, and peak strength. Finally, it is worth mentioning that when using the Hoek-Brown strength criterion, the strength envelope curve for each rock mass sample is generated based on input parameters m and a that are measured from triaxial testing of the intact rock.

Feature Author

Esteban Hormazabal
Esteban is a Civil Mining Engineer and holds a Master of Science (Geophysics) specialized in applied hydrogeology. He has 24 years of specific experience in geotechnical engineering, rock mechanics and geotechnical instrumentation, having worked in different mining and civil engineering projects. 
Additionally, he is an expert in analysis and geomechanical design of underground mining and surface excavations using 2D and 3D numerical modelling, stability analysis and slope design in open pits and waste dumps. 
He has led different and important open pit and underground mining projects in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Uruguay and USA. 
Esteban has authored several publications and has been speaker at different national and international conferences. He is a Competent Person of AusIMM and the Commission for the Qualification of Competencies in Mineral Resources & Reserves of Chile (QP). He has been professor of  the Rock Mechanics Chair at the Universidad Católica de Chile from 2013-2018.


Head of Rock Mechanics Services
Min Eng, MSc (Geophysics), FAusIMM, SAIMM, CRIRSCO
SRK Santiago
SRK Latin America