The British Geotechnical Association (BGA) is the principal
association for geotechnical engineers in the United Kingdom.

A Method for Investigating the Extent of Rock Bridges: FERM

BGA Meeting
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A Method for Investigating the Extent of Rock Bridges: FERM


Junlong Shang of University of Glasgow


Steve Hencher of University of Leeds

16th Jun 2021 17:00 hours

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The talk is based on the Manuel Rocha 2020 prize–winning thesis for the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) prepared by Dr Shang at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Professors Hencher and West.

Professor Hencher will outline the concept of “taking a hillside to pieces”, block-by-block, using non-blasting methods, to establish the extent of rock bridges. Such methods it is argued should allow the delineation of rock bridges, which can be linked to mass weathering classification and structural regime.

Dr Shang will present laboratory and field studies to test the tensile strength of rocks, showing examples of intact bedded sandstone and incipient discontinuities. He will then describe laboratory and field scale studies to open up incipient joints at two quarries, one at Dryrigg, near Horton-in-Ribblesdale, the other close to Leeds. Both tests identified rock bridge sections of intact rock, with much rougher surface texture compared to the incipient joint section.

Finally Professor Hencher will discuss the implications of this research as a tool to improve our understanding of rock slope stability and fluid flow through rock and hence, nuclear waste containment.

Speaker Biography

Dr Junlong Shang

Dr Junlong Shang is a lecturer at the James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow. He holds a PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Leeds, and was a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Junlong’s research centres on rock mechanics for underground space (e.g., tunnels, caverns, geological disposal) and earth resources (e.g., minerals, geothermal energy). He has established a proven track record in the mechanics of rocks and fractures, and multiphysics coupled modelling. In 2020, Junlong was awarded the prestigious ISRM Rocha Medal. He is currently serving as a Future Leader Member of the American Rock Mechanics Association, a Scientific Editor for Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (Elsevier), and an Editorial Board Member of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (Springer). Dr Shang has published around 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, including three ESI 1% highly cited papers.

Professor Steve Hencher

Steve Hencher is Emeritus Professor in Engineering Geology at the University of Leeds and Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong. He is a geologist by first degree. Following his PhD from Imperial College, he started working for Atkins in 1976, supervised 20,000 driven piles for Drax power station, and then joined the Geotechnical Control Office in HK where he was responsible for advances in weathering classification, landslide investigation and shear strength of rock joints. He has since worked at Leeds University, for Bechtel in South Korea on the High Speed Rail line, and was Director of Geotechnics for Halcrow China Limited for over 10 years. He has written two textbooks – “Practical Engineering Geology” and “Practical Rock Mechanics” and has authored over 100 technical papers. He was awarded the Engineering Group Award of the Geological Society, the BGA Prize, the first HKIE Geotechnical prize and recently, the Quigley Award regarding a paper on RQD Rest in Peace (with Pells and Bieniawski

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