Natural rock joint roughness quantification through fractal techniques

P. H.S.W. Kulatilake, P. Balasingam, Jinyong Park, R. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Accurate quantification of roughness is important in modeling hydro-mechanical behavior of rock joints. A highly refined variogram technique was used to investigate possible existence of anisotropy in natural rock joint roughness. Investigated natural rock joints showed randomly varying roughness anisotropy with the direction. A scale dependant fractal parameter, Kv, seems to play a prominent role than the fractal dimension, Dr1d, with respect to quantification of roughness of natural rock joints. Because the roughness varies randomly, it is impossible to predict the roughness variation of rock joint surfaces from measurements made in only two perpendicular directions on a particular sample. The parameter D r1d × Kv seems to capture the overall roughness characteristics of natural rock joints well. The one-dimensional modified divider technique was extended to two dimensions to quantify the two-dimensional roughness of rock joints. The developed technique was validated by applying to a generated fractional Brownian surface with fractal dimension equal to 2.5. It was found that the calculated fractal parameters quantify the rock joint roughness well. A new technique is introduced to study the effect of scale on two-dimensional roughness variability and anisotropy. The roughness anisotropy and variability reduced with increasing scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1181-1202
Number of pages22
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Anisotropy
  • Fractals
  • Rock joints
  • Roughness
  • Scale effects
  • Two dimensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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