Abstract

British Coal Measures mudrocks are dominantly non-marine, mature sediments with a high average clay minerals content of over 75%. A geological classification based on quartz content does not differentiate the dominant durable mudrocks from the non-durable types and overconsolidated clays in the formation. A uniaxial compressive strength greater than 3.6MN/m2 with a three cycle slake durability value of over 60% is suggested as an appropriate division between durable and non-durable mudrocks of this age. Physical breakdown, which acts as a control on chemical weathering triggered by pyrite oxidation, is considered to be governed by incidence of sedimentary structures, slaking and expandable mixed-layer clay content.

Shear strength reduction during post-glacial weathering can be significant. A tentative fully weathered effective stress peak strength for the weakest mudrocks and clays is deduced to be φ′ = 22°(c′ = 0). Colliery tip investigations indicate that chemical weathering effects on the shear strength of the mudrocks are small. A diagenetic rank factor applies both to peak shear strength and slake durability of mudrocks excavated from UK coal mines.

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