Engineers Australia

HKGES webinar on Rock strengthening upon heating – FACT or MYTH?


AGS members are invited to attend a HKGES webinar Rock strengthening upon heating – FACT or MYTH? by Dr Louis Wong, Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong.

The webinar will be held on 9th October 2020 (Fri), GMT+8 (HKT) 6:30pm.

Further details are available in the flyer.


Most underground projects, such as geothermal energy extraction, nuclear waste repository and underground excavation for deep mining and caverns, are implemented at the depths ranging only from hundreds to thousands of meters where the temperature is far from reaching the high level for the sole operation of the thermal weakening factors. On the contrary, some experimental studies have reported that rock can be strengthened upon heating, rather than weakened in the mild temperature range from room temperature to 200 °C. Despite the profound scientific and practical significance in the geophysical and geological fields, whether rock will be strengthened or weakened in response to elevated temperature is elusive. We carry out a comprehensive literature review and find that the dual effects of three major mechanisms and their interplay may either increase or decrease rock strength in the mild temperature regime. Nevertheless, rock strengthening is more or less an intrinsic property depending on various factors. We also find that there exists a “transition period” at elevated temperatures from rock strengthening to weakening. This discovery is important for underground engineering projects, since the determination of a number of design parameters relies on the laboratory-measured rock strength. Misinterpreted temperature impact on rock strength in an engineering project potentially leads to structural and/or economical failure. For accurate evaluation of rock strength, future laboratory studies should concentrate on the mildly heated rock relevant to the in situ ground conditions.