Rock mechanics


Learning basic concepts related to rock mechanics in the framework of civil and mining engineering interventions, particularly with regard to the study of the state of stress, strength and deformability of intact rocks versus rock masses (RM), the relevance of joints and the characterization methods of such features, both in the field and in the lab; furthermore, aspects related to representativeness of sampling and scale effect problematic in the scope of RM, to the failure criterion and an introduction to modelling issues are also introduce.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Paula Fernandes da Silva


Weekly - 5

Total - 80

Teaching language



No special requirements but it´s advisable to dominate basic concepts in engineering geology.


Anon., Desenvolvimentos recentes no domínio da mecânica das rochas. LNEC, Lisboa, 1983.

Comité Français de Mécanique des Roches, Manuel de mécanique des roches.  École des Mines, Paris, Tome 1(2000) e Tome 2 (2003). 

Goodman R., Introduction to rock mechanics. John Wiley & Sons (2nd ed), New York, 1988. 

Hudson J., Rock mechanics - principles in engineering practice. J. A. Butterworths, London, 1989.

Rocha M., Mecânica das rochas; LNEC, Lisboa, 1981.

Vallejo L. I. González de, & Ferrer M., Geological Engineering. CRC Press Balkema Group, 2011.

Teaching method

The teaching, supported in the use of multimedia projections and e-learning methods (Moodle program), embrace theoretical and practical lessons, namely with lab tests and the resolution of practical exercises on selected themes, complemented by seminaries (at least two) with specialists on rock mechanics field.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will have a continuous component and includes two tests - T (practical and theoretical) and a work (W) – a special presentation and discussion of a real case study on the application of rock mechanics in a civil or mining engineering project.

Final grade:  0,8.(T1+T2) + 0, 2.(W) = 20 values

Subject matter

Rock Mechanics: fundamentals. Intact rock, discontinuities and rock masses (RM). Index properties intact rocks. State stress: tensor, special cases; principal stresses, relationships. Stress and deformation. In situ stresses: around the world; ISRM in situ tests – scale effect and anisotropy. Strength and deformation of intact rock. Modes of failure; stress–strain curve. Triaxial solicitations. Rheological behaviours. In situ and laboratory testing. Discontinuities - relevance for the study of rock masses. Scale effect. Sampling and representativeness. Shear strength of discontinuity surfaces - laboratory and in situ tests. Scale effect. Models proposed for their evaluation. Influence on rock mass behaviour. Strength and deformability of RM: empirical methods; correlations. Failure criterion: applicability and limitations. CHILE vs DIANE. Hydromechanical behaviour of RM; assessment of hydraulic conductivity and modeling. Numerical methods; practical applications.


Programs where the course is taught: