Recently developed procedures make it possible in cases with suitable geological conditions to assess the degree of safety and the probable displacements of excavations and foundations in discontinuous rock masses. In addition to geological data describing the geometrical system and mechanical data on the behavior of the rock, these analyses require data on the shear strength and deformability of the natural surfaces of weakness being considered. Several methods of sampling and testing joints and other discontinuities have been devised in Europe, and a large number of tests have been completed. Large shear machines have been used in Russia, England, Yugoslavia, and France for testing specimens up to 100 in. in area. In addition, a number of in situ block shear tests have been performed on naturally occurring discontinuities primarily by German, French, Yugoslavian, and Czechoslovakian geologists and engineers. The methods, results, and significance of these studies will be reviewed.
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