Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

Hi Everyone,
There are various tables and formulas for bearing capacity of rocks. However they give very different numbers ranging from 3 MPa to 35 Mpa for the site that I am working on. 35 MPs is not a reasonable number to me but want to hear other opinions.
The methods used are as simple of correlating with RQD, Rock type, UCS and also usace method considering joint spaces. The rock is granite but joints are as close as 5 inches and in some cores RQD is as low as 60 percent.
UCS is more than 150 MPa as you can imagine. But I think joints are controlling factor not strength of a piece of intact rock.
Please let me know your thoughts and your estimated guess based on above.

Thank you for your contribution
Appreciate this forum

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

You will have a huge bearing capacity with UCS of 150MPa. Probably more than the structural capacity of your concrete. That is likely the limiting factor.

Sorry I can respond with recommended method later. Shooting out now.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

Thank you ErieChch.
Can anyone else share their thoughts. The question is basically about effect of closely spaced joints on bearing capacity. Thanks

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

We typically recommend 20,000 psf (~1 MPa) for footings bearing directly on sound unweathered hard bedrock, such as granite. I've never had a client be upset at that value but I haven't been in a situation where that is a limiting value. We also provide them minimum footing dimensions for continuous and isolated footings which probably govern more than the allowable bearing capacity.

An RQD of 60 isn't bad so for shallow foundations so I wouldn't be concerned.

I would start being concerned with really low RQD's, low recoveries, sloping bedrock, active faults, soft rock, weathered zones, ect. I can't tell you specific values for each item as I feel like it's more experience and local knowledge that governs when dealing with shallow foundations on rock rather than a manual.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

I would recommend that you determine mohr coulomb parameters using Hoek Brown criteria. This will give you c' and phi'.

You can plug these into equation 2.26 of Tomlinson Foundation Design and Construction 7th. This will most certainly give you an ultimate well over 1MPa.

And yes you are correct, any jointed rock strength should be assessed to consider the discontinuities. This is what Hoek Brown criteria considers.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

1 MPa allowable is what we start calling rock, and it's sandstone.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

I have some questions for you.

What are you building? Will the client benefit from a less conservative allowable bearing pressure?

How thorough was your subsurface investigation? Did you actually core below bottom of footing elevation?

Do you know who will be doing the rock blasting/excavation? Are you confident they won’t over-drill and over-blast?

These are the things that would go through my mind before recommending a non-conservative value. Bedrock quality will vary with depth and location across the site. Settlement will typically control. So you have to be confident that there won’t be highly weathered zones in your rock below the footing. I’ve seen enough variation in my regions to warrant being conservative.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

See... any comments from real geotekkies? Earlier I posted a link in the electrical forum that I thought was great... and wasn't so great. ponder


Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?


RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

What I usually do is employ Hoek & Brown method to assess the phi-c' parameters of the rock mass and then treat the rock mass as an extremely very stiff-dense soil. This has already been described by EireChCh previously.
However, this method is correct only as far as the rock mass is isotropic at the scale of the potential failure surfaces involved. If the rock mass is anisotropic, that is discontinuities govern, then there are more elaborate methods and the phi-c' parameters at the joints, families of joints must be considered. I confess I rarely used the more elaborate methods in the small or medium sized projects I'm usually involved with.
The above being said if the foundation is on rock mass and if it's a rigid, not weak rock, even with pervasive joint networks (low GSI number) the bearing capacity will invariably be huge.
Bottom line, the calculations have a practical sense only if the loadings on the rock are very substantial.

RE: Rock bearing capacity. Which method?

I follow the same reasoning as McCoy - there are "rules of thumb" if I recall, that in a very well-jointed rock mass with poor joint quality, you would divide the rock UCS by 10 to obtain a safe allowable bearing pressure; in the instance of a tight rock mass you would divide the UCS by 3 for same.

As already noted, the calculation becomes academic since prescribing a "bearing capacity" in excess of 1 to 2Mpa for a shallow footing doesn't produce any noticeable reduction in the foundation costs, to the best of my knowledge. I rarely prescribe an allowable bearing pressure in excess of 1MPa and no bridge engineer has ever complained or asked for anything higher...


Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close