In rock mechanics and rock engineering, the models developed depend considerably on the input data such as boundary conditions, rock material and rock mass properties. Correct characterization and evaluation of the properties of rock material, discontinuities and rock mass frequently requires laboratory and in-situ tests, supplemented with a high degree of experience and judgment. Accordingly, since 1974, ISRM has spent considerable effort in developing a succession of the ISRM Suggested Methods (SM) for different aspects of rock mechanics. This paper emphasizes the need and importance of standardization of rock characterization and testing methods within the context of the ISRM SMs and briefly discusses near future trends in rock characterization and testing.


Rock mechanics is the basic science of mechanics applied to rocks. The application of mechanics on a large scale to a pre-stressed, naturally occurring material is the main factor distinguishing rock mechanics from other engineering disciplines. The first experimental rock mechanics studies were performed by Gauthey, who built a testing machine in about 1770 and noted that the compressive strength of longer specimens was lower than the cube strength [1]. In terms of experimental rock mechanics, important developments were performed between 1945 and 1960. The subject of rock mechanics started in the 1950s from a rock physics base, gradually became a new discipline in its own right during the 1960s mainly by the efforts of Professor Leopold Müller, who officially endorsed International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) in Salzburg, Austria, in 1962.

Since site investigations and laboratory and field tests provide important inputs for rock modelling and rock engineering design methods, determination of properties and rock characterization are the main important areas of interest in this field. Increasing demands from rock engineering studies, rapid advances in technology and recognition of the fact that laboratory test results from a small specimen of rock cannot be directly applied to solve all rock engineering problems resulted in development of a number of laboratory and field testing and site characterization methods. However, after some nearly 60 years of activity and continued work of ISRM, there are still many unanswered questions in the field of rock mechanics and rock engineering. In this paper, test method and importance of standardization of rock testing methods are introduced within the context of the ISRM SMs and current developments and future trends in rock characterization and testing methods are briefly discussed.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.