Despite recent efforts, digitization in rock engineering still suffers from the difficulty in standardizing and statistically analysing databases that are created by a process of quantification of qualitative assessments. Indeed, neither digitization nor digitalization have to date been used to drive changes to the principles upon which, for example, the geotechnical data-collection process is founded, some of which have not changed in several decades. There is an empirical knowledge gap that cannot be bridged by the use of technology alone. In this context, this paper presents the results of what the authors call a rediscovery of rock mass classification systems, and a critical review of their definitions and limitations in helping engineers to integrate these methods and digital acquisition systems. This discussion has significant implications for the use of technology as a tool to directly determine rock mass classification ratings and for the application of machine learning to address rock engineering problems.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Digitization and Digitalization in engineering geology and hydrogeology collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/digitization-and-digitalization-in-engineering-geology-and-hydrogeology

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