Implications of groundwater behaviour on the geomechanics of rock slope stability

Jeff Price
Monday, October 10, 2016
First presented: 
First Asia Pacific Slope Stability in Mining Conference, Brisbane, September 6-9
Water Management

Groundwater interaction is recognised as one of the key variables influencing slope design and management and is particularly significant in weaker rock masses. Understanding groundwater and pore pressure behaviour in rock masses is generally based on accepted theory related to flow through porous granular media. The presence of discontinuous geological structures within rock masses distorts the accepted hydraulic behaviour and the profile and aperture variability presents the designer with a complex challenge.

The paper adopts a geotechnical perspective and provides a review of our understanding of the interaction of groundwater with rock masses, including the accepted mechanics of water flow through granular and fractured media. The discussion considers how this behaviour can be expected to be locally modified and what implications this may have for slope stability. The discussion references observations as well as laboratory testing and physical measurements with consideration of the role of tortuous laminar flow and capillarity.

Feature Author

Jeff Price

Jeff Price has over 26 years’ experience in consulting engineering and research for civil and mining projects.  His expertise includes feasibility design for open pit mines and infrastructure, tailings scoping and pre-feasibility studies, and numerical modelling for slope depressurisation and open pit and underground stability for projects in Australasia, Eurasia South America and Africa.  He has also been involved in infrastructure corridor assessment using GIS geohazard analysis.  Jeff has published on mining geotechnics, engineering in weak and weathered rock and researched the role of fracture flow on the behaviour of rock masses.  At management level, Jeff has been part of the Practice Leaders Group between 2008 and 2016, and served as a Company Director on the Australian Board from 2012 to 2017.

Principal Consultant (Geotechnical Engineering)
PhD (Civil Engineering), FAusIMM(CP), FGS, MIEAust
SRK Sydney
SRK Worldwide