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D Venkat Reddy
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Karnataka
E-28, Sector-8, Noida-201301 (UP)
Phone: 0120-4078900 • Fax: 4078999
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First Edition 2010

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Civil engineering is one of the oldest professions of mankind. All civil engineering activities have to take
into consideration one or the other geological aspect during planning. Practicing engineers face several
geological challenges in the field almost everyday. Engineering geology helps in proper assessment of civil
engineering structures and provides suitable practical solutions to the geological problems encountered
during their planning, design and maintenance.
This textbook discusses various branches of geology, internal structure, composition of the earth and
provides an introduction to engineering geology. It introduces the fundamentals of geology, such as
mineralogy, petrology, structural geology and physical geology which includes features, such as weathering
of rocks, soil formation and geological work of rivers, oceans and ground water. Topics such as mineral
resources, their statewise statistics of production, resources and reserves, their commercial uses,
ornamental/decorative rock deposits of our country, proposals for linking major rivers of India (Ganga-
Cauvery) and similar projects in several other countries, ground water development and management, etc.,
have also been discussed in the book.
However, the main thrust of this book still lies on the application of earth sciences in providing
effective solutions to civil engineering/geotechnical field problems since it is impossible to separate
engineering application of geology from civil engineering practices. It is very important to study the
geological aspects of civil engineering sites in detail before the project is initiated. To meet this
requirement, civil engineers and the engineering geologists have to work together on the field right from the
initial planning stage to the completion of the project.
Site selection, design, the construction of onshore and offshore structures and all other civil
engineering constructions are influenced by the geological factors of the area. Weathering pattern, soil
erosion, conservation and treatment, flood control, ravine control and reclamation, coastal erosion and
protection measures, ground water hazards, ground water pollution, earthquake protective structures, etc.,
are a few of the several topics included in the book that not only help in developing a deeper insight of the
subject but also provide effective guidelines to the practicing engineers in planning their projects. An
exclusive note has been added on rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge techniques of ground water
(CGWB suggestive methods) with typical case in points.
The latest trends and developments in the site investigation techniques have been mentioned that can
help in preparation and utilization of toposheets and topographic map. Geological maps of several regions
have been incorporated to explain the step-by-step method of geological map right from its preparation to
its interpretation and its engineering significance. GPS systems, their importance, applicability in field site
investigations have also been incorporated.
Indian case studies/case points have been exclusively added in each chapter for the reader to have an
in-depth analysis of the geological constraints encountered on the field and their impact on the civil
engineering design. In addition to each case study, the geological study of the site, geotechnical problems
and their treatment/remedial measures have also been discussed in order to overcome the geological
constraints of that site.
The book has been designed as a textbook for BTech students of Anna University. It is an effort to
provide a common ground of knowledge and understanding to the readers for enhancing their technical and
professional skills. It would be a great accomplishment for me if the information provided in this book can
help in building requisite professional and technical skills in this field.
I would like to thank and express my appreciation to all my friends who have extended intellectual and
moral support to me while writing this book. I would also like to thank the entire editorial team of Vikas
Publishing House for its continuous support and perseverance.
I dedicate this book to my beloved family – my wife Smt. Vasumathi, daughter Jyosna Vanhoof,
son-in-law Jeffrey Vanhoof, grand daughter Megan Vanhoof and son Ravinder Reddy D, who actively
supported and encouraged this undertaking.
‘Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.’
‘Earth Science for Every One’
NITK- Surathkal Dharmapuram Venkat Reddy
I wish to acknowledge the contribution and cooperation of the following
organizations and my fraternity members who provided me the critical data,
suggestions and other inputs required in writing this book.
• V S Krishnaswamy (GSI)
• Prof. F G H Blyth and M H de Freitas
• Prof. K M Gurappa
• E M Winkler
• Geological Survey of India
• F C Loughman
• Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development
• K L Rao (Central Water Commission)
• Lakshimi Roy
• Planning Commission of India
• B M Ravindra
• Krishna Rao
• Prof. Subba Rao
• Ministry of Water Resources, GOI
• Central Ground Water Board, GOI
• Prof C V R Murthy (IIT Kanpur)
• Prof Sudhir K Jain (IIT Kanpur)
• BK Rastogi (NGRI)
• India Meteorological Department
• P N Mehta and I Prakash
• K S Subramanian and K Gopalakrisnan
• Eugene S Schweig, Mark Peterson, Paul Bodin and B K Rastogi
• US Geological Survey
• Survey of India
• Prof. M K Gurappa (KREC, NITK)
• Kathrine Mather and Bryan Mather
• P G Cooray
• Bureau of Indian Standards
• R K Gupta (NRSA)
• Dr G S Dwarakish (NITK)
• Central Board of Irrigation and Power
• D N Kulkarni and B M Karmarkar
• Richardson Asir, (Konkan Railway Corporation Limited)
• D J Varnes
• Jagannatha P Rao (CRRI)
• B M Ravindra (Department of Mines and Geology, Karnataka)
• Prof. R K Yaji (KREC, NITK)
• Karra Ramchandra (NITK)
• Indian Bureau of Mines
• B P Radhakrishna
• S K Acharryya (GSI)
• Directorate General of Hydrocarbons
• Oil India Limited
• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited
• Kalachand Sain (NGRI)
• Bhu Jal News
• Department of Atomic Energy
• World Tunnelling Information Journal

D Venkat Reddy

1. Introduction to Geology and its Branches

• Study of the composition of the earth
• Study of the structure of the earth
• Study of surface features and processes
• Study of the earth’s history/stratigraphy/palaeontology
2. Engineering Geology
• Geology in civil engineering
• Case study
3. Crystallography and Mineralogy
• Crystallography
• Crystal systems
• Mineralogy
• Mineral deposits
• Case study – I, II
4. Petrology
• Major rock types
• Forms of igneous rocks
• Sedimentary rocks
• Metamorphic rocks
• Rocks as constructional materials: Building and Ornamental stones
• Criteria for selection of suitable building stone
• Rock hardness and engineering parameters
• Case study – I, II
5. Structural Geology
• Folds
• Faults
• Joints
• Unconformity
6. Weathering of Rocks
• Weathering process
• Case study – I, II
7. Soil
• Soil formation
• Case study – I, II
• Saline and Alkali soils of India
• Soil surveying
8. Geological Work of Rivers
• Stages in a river system
• Geologic action of rivers
• Changes in river course
• Case study – I
• Study of Indian rivers
• Case study – II, III, IV
• Interlinking of rivers: Ministry of water resources task force
• Similar projects in other countries – A look back
• Case study – V
9. Geological Work of Oceans
• Waves, tides and winds
• Sea erosion
• Coastal erosion
• Coastal protection measures: Coastal engineering geology
• Recent trends and innovative methods of coastal protection
10. Ground Water
• Hydrologic cycle
• Rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water in India
• Expected benefits of rainwater harvesting and ground water recharge
• Ideal conditions for rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water
• Rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water in India
11. Tips on Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction
• Tip 1
• Tip 2
• Tip 3
• Tip 4
• Tip 5
• Tip 6
• Tip 7
• Tip 8
• Tip 9
• Tip 10
• Tip 11
• Tip 12
• Tip 13
• Tip 14
• Tip 15
• Tip 16
12. Site Investigating Techniques for Civil Engineering Projects
• Toposheets/Topographic maps/Computerized maps
• Geological maps and their interpretation in site investigation
• Geological map of inclined formations
• List of rock and mineral names for use by concrete laboratory petrographers
• Geophysics in civil engineering/geotechnical engineering
• Types of geophysical surveys
• Educational utilization of standardization
• Bureau of Indian standards
13. Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System
• Remote sensing
• Case study
• Geographical information system
14. Investigations for Major Dams and Reservoirs
• Failed dam projects
• Standard guidelines for major dam and reservoir investigations
• Case study
15. Tunnels and Underground Excavations
• Tunnel and underground excavations – Methods of site selection
• Tunnel excavation in various rock types – Geological problems
• Case study – I
• Geological problems
• Precautionary measures for safe tunnelling
• Case study – II
16. Landslides and Mass Movement
• Causes of landslides
• Landslide investigations
• Case study – I, II, III
17. Buildings
• Classification of buildings
• Geological factors in design of buildings
18. Stratigraphy of India: Economic and Engineering Significance
• Principles of correlation
• Geological time scale
• The Archaean system
• Case study
• Building/ornamental/decorative rock deposits
• Proterozoic formation
• Building/ornamental/decorative stones
• Vindhyan supergroup
• Decorative/ornamental stones
• The Cambrian system
• Gondwana supergroup
• Deccan traps
• Tertiary rocks
• Quarternary rocks
• Importance of stratigraphy in engineering
• Palaeozoic era – Cambrian to carboniferous
University Question Papers
List of Abbreviations
AICTE All India Council for Technical Education
AIJ Architectural Institute of Japan
AOC Assam Oil Company
API American Petroleum Institute
ASTM American Society of Testing Materials
BCM Billion Cubic Metre
BIS Bureau of Indian Standards
BRP Bottom Pressure Recorder
BSR Bottom Simulating Reflector
CGWB Central Ground Water Board
CI Contour Interval
CNZ Compressed Natural Gas
CRRI Central Road Research Institute
CSIR Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
CSWCRTI Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute
CWC Central Water Commission
CWRM Completely Weathered Rock Materials
DBMS Database Management System
DCDB Digital Cartographic Database
DGPS Differential Global Positioning System
DTM Digital Terrain Modelling
EEZ Exclusive Economic Zone
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
FCC False Colour Composite
GHSZ Gas Hydrate Stability Zone
GIS Geographic Information System
GPS Global Positioning System
GSI Geological Survey of India
GSLV Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
GTO Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit
HE Horizontal Equivalent
HR Hard Rock
HWRM Highly Weathered Rock Materials
HZL Hindustan Zinc Limited
ICRP International Commission on Radiological Protection
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
IECQ IEC Quality Assessment
IFOV Instantaneous Field of View
IHD International Hydrological Decade
ILW Intermediate Level Waste
IMD Indian Meteorological Department
INSAT Indian National Satellite
IREL Indian Rare Earths Limited
ISEG Indian Society of Engineering Geology
ISI Indian Standards Institution
ISM Indian School of Mines
ISRM International Society of Rock Mechanics
ISRO Indian Space Research Organization
ISO International Organization for Standardization
KIOCL Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited
MMI Modified Mercalli Intensity
MMT Million Metric Tonne
MoEF Ministry of Environment and Forest
MSK Medvedev-Sponhener-Karnik
MWRM Moderately Weathered Rock Materials
NGRI National Geophysical Research Institute
NH National Highway
NIOT National Institute of Ocean Technology
NMDC National Mineral Development Corporation
NPP National Perspective Plan
NRSA National Remote Sensing Agency
NWDA National Water Development Agency
ONGC Oil and Natural Gas Corporation
OPEC Oil Producing Economic Countries
OCMA Oil Companies Material Association
PCA Principal Component Analysis
PWRM Partially Weathered Rock Materials
RMR Rock Mass Rating
SLAR Side-looking Airborne Radar
SAR Synthetic Aperture Radar
SMQC Standardization, Measurement and Quality Control
SRF Stress Reduction Factor
SST Sea Surface Temperature
UCIL Uranium Corporation of India Limited
UNO United Nations Organization
USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
VES Vertical Electrical Sounding
VLF Very Low Frequency
WHO World Health Organization
Syllabi – Book Mapping


SYLLABUS Mapping in
the book:
Geology in Civil Engineering - Branches of geology - Earth Structures and 1,2,5,6,8,
composition - Elementary knowledge on continental drift and plate technologies. 9,10 and 11
Earth processes - Weathering - Work of rivers, wind and sea and their engineering
importance - Earthquake belts in India. Groundwater - Mode of occurrence -
prospecting - importance in civil engineering.
Elementary knowledge on symmetry elements of important crystallographic 3,4 and 18
systems - physical properties of minerals - study of the following rock forming
minerals - Quartz family. Feldpar family, Augite, Hornblende, Biotite, Muscovite,
Calcite, Garnet - properties, behaviour and engineering significance of clay
minerals - Fundamentals of process of formation of ore minerals - Coal and
petroleum - Their origin and occurrence in India.
Classification of rocks - distinction between igneous, sedimentary and 4
metamorphic rocks. Description occurrence, engineering properties and distribution
of following rocks. Igneous rocks- Granite, Syenite, Diorite, Gabbro, Pegmatite,
Dolerite and Basalt Sedimentary rocks sandstone, Limestone, shale conglo,
Conglomerate and breccia. Metamorphic rocks. Quartizite, Marble, Slate, Phyllite,
Gniess and Schist.
Attitude of beds - Outcrops - Introduction to Geological maps - study of structures - 5 and 12
Folds, faults and joints - Their bearing on engineering construction. Seismic and
Electrical methods for Civil Engineering investigations.
Remote sensing techniques - Study of air photos and satellite images - 7,13,14,15,
Interpretation for Civil Engineering projects - Geological conditions necessary for 16 and 17
construction of Dams, Tunnels, Buildings, Road cuttings, Land slides - Causes and
preventions. Sea erosion and coastal protection.
Chapter 1

Introduction to Geology and its

Learning Objectives

➠ scope of geology
➠ study of the composition of the earth
➠ study of the structure of the earth
➠ study of surface features and processes
➠ study of the earth’s history

Geology is the branch of science dealing with earth and related subjects (from
Greek, geo = earth, logos = science). The geological science and its branches
deal with the study of the earth.
The subject geology is divided into several subdivisions. These divisions
are so intimately interrelated that no sharp boundaries truly exist. Furthermore,
they are intermixed with physics, chemistry, biology and other branches of
engineering, including civil, mining and petroleum engineering. The term
geology which literally means the study of the earth thus, can be regarded as
embracing all of the geological sciences.
The subject can be broadly classified as follows:
I. Study of the composition of the earth–
Igneous petrology
Sedimentary petrology
Metamorphic petrology
Economic geology
II. Study of the structure of the earth–
Geodesy and Geophysics
Structural geology
III. Study of the surface features and processes–
Geomorphology/Physical geology
IV. Study of the earth history–
Historical geology and Stratigraphy
V. Engineering geology
Nearly all geological studies seek to determine an order of events and the
main objective of the science is to work out the full history of the earth and its
animal and plant inhabitants. The integrating nature of the subject requires that
geological sciences be versatile in their approach to problems. The geological
sciences serve man in a variety of ways. As in all sciences, one of the strong
motivating forces is man’s curiosity about nature.


▆ Mineralogy
Mineralogy is the branch of geology dealing with minerals, the basic units of
composition of rocks. As per the generally accepted definition, a mineral is a
naturally occurring solid material of more or less specific chemical composition
that generally occurs in crystalline forms and is usually inorganic in nature.
Although oil and coal are commonly referred to as minerals (or more specifically
as mineral fuels), neither oil nor coal is a mineral as defined in geology because
neither is crystalline and furthermore, both have an organic origin. Minerals as
basic constituents of rocks and ore deposits are quite obviously an integral part
of geology. Approximately 3,000 distinct minerals are recognized, but few are
important out of the rocks that are abundant in the outer parts of our planet. Rock
identification can be done on the basis of estimation of essential minerals. Rock
identification in the field is essential during civil and mining engineering works
for successful completion of projects.
The science of crystallography is concerned with the geometrical properties
and internal structure of crystals. Since minerals are generally crystalline,
crystallography is an essential aspect of mineralogy.
Although a major concern of mineralogy is to describe and classify the
geometrical, chemical and physical properties of minerals, it is also concerned
with their origin. Physical chemistry and thermodynamics are basic scientific
tools for understanding mineral origin.

▆ Petrology
Petrology (from Greek, petro = rock, logos = science) is the branch of geology
dealing with the study of rocks and is strongly dependent on mineralogy since,
rocks are natural aggregates of minerals.
The known rocks are classified into three main groups: igneous rocks,
which have solidified from molten magma; sedimentary rocks, which are
composed of fragments derived from preexisting rocks or from materials
precipitated from solution or from organic products and metamorphic rocks,
which have been derived from either igneous or sedimentary rocks under
conditions that caused changes in their composition, texture and internal
structure. The branches of geology dealing with these rock types are termed as
igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic petrology respectively. The rocks of the
earth’s crust are exposed to view on continents and islands, which form almost
30 per cent of the earth’s surface. Rock specimens obtained from other planets
and the moon also reveal its geological, biological and economic significance.
In all civil and mining engineering projects, it is a must to distinguish
between rock soil materials in order to take decisions in the field itself for further
progress of the work.

▆ Economic Geology
Our civilization on a large part is dependent on mineral deposits, which are
obtained from the earth’s crust and therefore, have a prominent place in the study
and practice of the branch of geology termed as economic geology. Economic
geology consists of several principal sub-branches that include the study of ore
deposits, petroleum geology, geology of nonmetallic deposits and other
commercially valuable materials. It is now emphasized that metallogeny has
closely followed crustal evolutionary trends through geological time and simpler
mineral deposits confined to the Archaean (oldest rock formations of the earth)
are getting more and more diversified and specialized during later periods,
analogous to trends in the organic evolution. Earlier concepts of magmatic,
hydrothermal and replacement origin of metalliferous deposits have been
modified substantially. In addition to this, exploration geology, ore reserve
estimations, prospecting methods of mineral and fossil fuel resources are also
included in economic geology. India is one among the few countries in the world
endowed with rich mineral resources that provide a tremendous scope for setting
up of various mineral-based industries in the country.

▆ Hydrogeology and Ground Water

Hydrogeology, which deals with the study of water in the ground, can also be
grouped under economic geology. This branch essentially deals with the
occurrence of ground water, the factors governing its availability or scarcity and
so on. Hydrogeological parameters play an important role in the occurrence and
movement of subsurface water. Ground water availability depends on
hydrometeorological elements and hydrogeological conditions such as porosity,
permeability, specific capacity, specific retention and structural controls of the
region. Ground water over exploitation, in many hard rock terrains and drought-
prone regions of our country led to a decline in ground water levels and hence, to
an acute shortage of water. Ground water recharge, rainwater recharge structures
and rooftop rainwater harvesting methods, etc., are of primary need to the nation
in order to develop ground water at specific sites for proper utilization. Each
drop of rainwater is to be stored in geologically designed subsurface structures
for proper utilization by the common people.
Ground water has its influences in civil and mining engineering projects to
a great extent. In some field conditions excessive ground water seepage leads to
the collapse of civil/mining tunnels, subways, foundation problems for hydraulic
structures, etc. In each civil and mining project, the local hydrogeological
conditions and aquifer characteristics of the region must be carefully dealt with
before the execution of the projects.

▆ Geochemistry
This branch is broadly concerned with the application of chemistry in virtually
all aspects of geology. Most problems of geochemistry are so closely linked with
other aspects of geology that it is difficult to isolate them as purely geochemical
problems. One of the great general concerns of geochemistry is the continued
recycling of the materials of the earth’s crust, largely through agencies of the
hydrosphere and atmosphere, coupled with mountain building and other types of
deformation of the earth’s crust. The earth’s minerals and rocks under the
influence of the atmosphere as also the process of weathering lead to
disintegration of the rock mass. Thereafter the rock mass is transported by
various agencies and deposited in favourable sites. These deposits once again get
converted into rock and the crustal cycle continues. In civil engineering
constructions, the selection of suitable concrete and road aggregates, etc., play a
vital role. Chemical reactions of aggregates with cement lead to the formation of
gels. This, in turn, develops osmotic pressure or swelling pressure to distend or
rupture. Such chemical reaction leads to the collapse of structures or destabilizes
the civil engineering construction. Geochemical analysis of concrete, road
aggregates or foundation or building stones, etc., are required to analyse the
extent of the influence of chemical alterations, before utilizing them for civil
engineering constructions.

▆ Geochemical Problems
In mineral exploration, geochemical anomalies help to find the mineral deposits
of the region. Alteration of mineral and ore deposits also results in the formation
of new deposits. In mining programmes, it is a must to analyse the extent of
alterations of mineral deposits for finding out the migration of deposit or for the
location of commercial deposits. Geochemistry is the inextricably linked with
other aspects of geology so that it is difficult to isolate them as purely
geochemical problems.


The earth’s chemical layer is broken into a series of concentric shells of different
compositions. These layers are distinguished as the outermost crust, below
which is the mantle and below the mantle is the core. Understanding the interior
of the earth is not as simple as understanding the surface features of the earth
because we have to rely on indirect studies, such as observations of deep mining
regions, drilling of the deep continental regions/oil wells, probing with seismic
data, analysis of geothermal gradient, etc. Seismic waves travelling through the
earth are also used to probe its deep interior.

▆ Geodesy
The main objective of geodesy is to determine the size and shape of the earth in
cooperation with other geological sciences, in order to study the internal
structure of the earth. The practical role of geodesy is to provide a network of
accurately surveyed points on the earth’s surface, the vertical and geographical
elevations and positions of which are precisely known and in turn, may be
incorporated in maps, toposheets which include the contours (lines connecting
points of equal elevation), earth surface features, longitudes, latitudes, etc. The
Survey of India (SOI), has already prepared the toposheet of our country.
Toposheets are the basic requirement for all geological, civil and mining
engineering works. Each toposheet of the specific area gives topographical
information with specific longitudes, latitudes. Presently photogrammetrical
techniques, aerial photos, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Geographic
Position System (GPS) are being used for upgradation of the existing toposheets
of the country.

▆ Geophysics
Geophysics is the study of the earth that involves the methods and principles of
physics and is an interrelated subject with all branches of geology. The study of
the earth’s interior provides a good example of geophysics’ approach to
problems. Astronomical and meteorological parameters can also be measured
utilizing geophysical parameters. In earth science, civil and mining engineering
surveys are conducted using geophysics to detect contrasts in the physical
properties of the earth’s materials. Electrical, magnetic, gravity, seismic surveys
provide geologists, civil and mining engineers, the knowledge about subsurface
features, structures, minerals, oil and natural gas, etc. Geophysical surveys
became one of the integral parts of all mineral exploration programmes and
geotechnical investigations. Geophysics is widely separated into divisions, such
as electrical, seismic, magnetic, gravity and radiometric methods for utilizing
specific surveys, based on the requirement of user agencies.

▆ Structural Geology
Structural geology deals with the geometrical relationships of rocks and geologic
features in general. Most geological features have an aspect that pertains to their
geometrical or spatial relationships and are therefore properly included in the
domain of structural geology.
Structural features on a small-scale may be divided into two broad classes:
(a) The primary structures that were acquired in the genesis of a rock mass. (b)
The secondary structures that result from later deformation of the primary
structures. Towards the other end are large-scale structural features that include
mountain ranges and gently warped strata that extend over large areas.
In nature, no rock deposit is perfectly continuous. Natural discontinuities
are formed due to tectonic conditions of the region. Joints, fractures, folds,
faults, unconformities, etc., are formed as a consequence of geotectonic events.
Petrological characters are also influenced by the major and micro structural
discontinuities of geological events.
Structural geology plays a very important role in almost all geological
features, mineral and rock deposits and geomorphologic features of the region.
Selection site for major civil engineering projects mainly depends upon the
structural conditions of the region. Many project sites were changed or rejected
due to adverse structural discontinuities. In opencast mining and underground
mining, rock discontinuities adversely affect mining, drilling and blasting. In
case of civil and mining projects, it is must to prepare a structural geological
map before starting the project. Ground water availability and movement is
directly related to the local structural discontinuities of that region. Selection of
artificial ground water recharge projects and rainwater harvesting techniques
requires an in-depth study of the major and minor structural discontinuities of
the geological terrain before adopting these measures.

▆ Volcanology
It is the science of volcanoes and deals with their structure, petrology and origin.
It is also concerned with the contribution of volcanoes to the rock structure of
the earth’s crust, with their role as contributors to the atmosphere and
hydrosphere and to the balance of chemical elements in the earth’s crust and to
the relationships of volcanoes to certain forms of metallic ore deposits. The
study of volcanoes is linked with the study of large-scale crustal phenomena,
including earthquakes and mountain building. Volcanoes result from materials
emerging in molten form from the depths of the earth’s crust. The principal
motives for studying volcanoes and volcanic products are that volcanism
involves processes that were related to the origin and evolution of the earth and
other planets.
The study of volcanology is important in finding out unknown behaviour in
earth’s interior. Volcanologists camp (protective fire proof materials used) at
eruption sites to measure and record the eruption process and the temperature of
volcanic lava, to collect specimens for chemical analysis in order to decipher
unknown secrets of the earth. Astronauts collected volcanic rock specimens from
the moon, to understand the formation process of the moon. Unmanned
spacecraft also collected rock specimens from other planets to establish their
formation and enable a correlative study with earth processes. Volcanological
studies also reveal the causes of the earthquakes particularly in the volcanic
terrains of the world.
In our country volcanic rocks covered almost entire Maharashtra, Gujarat
and parts of Karnataka covering about 5,00,000 sq km. Major earthquakes of
recent times in Killari, Latur, Koyna, Bhuj were in basaltic terrains and are under
active study of volcanologists, seismologists and geologists.
Civil engineering constructions require an in-depth study of the volcanic
terrains before the planning and execution of the project. Generally, volcanic
basaltic rocks are hard and compact except weathered ones. However, no major
mineral deposits are related with these formations.


▆ Geomorphology/Physical Geology
Geomorphology deals principally with the topographic features of the earth. It
deals with the topographic and is concerned with the classification, description
and origin of landforms. It is interdependent on many other branches of geology,
particularly those dealing with processes that act on landscape. Geological work
of atmosphere, rivers, oceans, wind, and their interrelation and physical
processes are also covered in the subject. Natural and geological processes that
influence landforms/physical features form an important aspect of
geomorphology. Exogenic process includes weathering of rocks, geological
work of rivers, lakes, glaciers, wind, oceans, etc., and the influence of these
agents on physical/landforms brings about the degradation of these. Hence,
weathering process is considered as one of the partners in degradation.
Weathering of rock materials leads to physical, chemical and biological
disintegration and consequently rock masses lose their strength. In a few
instances, chemical alterations in rocks and minerals lead to the formation of
new deposits. Rock weathering by erosive agents leads to the formation of soil.
In all civil engineering works, soil investigations and soil mechanics play an
important role. Extensive soil erosion in many parts of the country resulted in
silting of reservoirs losing mineral nutrients resulted in decrease of agricultural
production clogging of river courses with extensive sand deposition resulted
obstructing the river flow, causing floods. Highly weathered and altered rock
formations also resulted in creep flow of materials during the rainy season and
major land slips/slides, debris flows in highly mountainous regions.
Geomorphological classification of land features is a must in all applied
aspects of earth sciences and geotechnological studies to understand the extent
of natural weathering conditions of the region before planning for developmental
structures, etc.


▆ Historical Geology
The main objective of earth science is to establish the history of the earth from
its origin to the present form in a chronological time scale. The basic historical
document by which the earth scientists study the history of the earth’s crust are
minerals, rocks, plant and animal fossils, etc. Stratigraphical historical geology
has, as its aim, the description and classification of rocks with a view to arrange
them in the chronological order in which they were laid down on the surface of
the earth.
Historical geology and stratigraphy reveals the regional geology of a
specific region, age of rock formations, sequential order in comparison to
standard geological time scale which, in turn, is useful in determining the
association of mineral, ore mineral, fossil fuel, nuclear fuel deposits. For
instance, major coal deposits of the world are restricted to Gondwana
formations, oil and natural gas deposits to Tertiary formations, a majority of base
metallic deposits to Archaean/Dharwar system, etc. In natural sedimentary
formations, the oldest rocks were laid down at the bottom and gradually younger
formations deposited succeedingly. The bottommost formation is considered as
the oldest formation whereas the topmost formation as the youngest. However,
tectonic/earth erosional processes dislocated the chronology of these formations,
and they were tilted, folded, faulted, displaced in such a sequence that it is a very
hard task to delineate the oldest and youngest formations on the basis of
depositional theory. In such instances, fossils if present, indicate the age and
relative age group of the succeeding formations. In some field conditions, the
absence of fossils makes it necessary to use radiometric dating for the
determination of the age of each rock formation.

▆ Palaeontology
Palaeontology is the science of fossils of ancient life forms and their evolution.
Palaeontology is also considered as a branch of biology. Palaeontology is
subgrouped into vertebrate palaeontology, invertebrate palaeontology,
micropalaeontology, palaeobotany, palynology, etc.
Fossils play a vital role in earth science. They serve as indicators of the
ancient environment. The presence of fossils reveals the age of the rock
formation and the environment during the period of their deposition.
Palaeobotany is the study of plant fossils. Plant fossils also indicate the presence
of carbonaceous deposits. Palaeontology became one of the tools helping in the
exploration of prospective coal, oil and natural gas deposits. Micropalaeontology
is the study of microfossils, which are studied under microscopes. Palynology
mainly deals with the study of plant spores and pollens.
Historical geology, stratigraphal, regional geological, palaeontological
studies are required essentially to understand the regional/local geology of the
region before planning for any civil and mining engineering or developmental

▆ Astrogeology
Astrogeology is concerned with the geology of the solid bodies in the solar
system, planets and asteroids (minor planets). Questions regarding the origin of
planets and asteroids are germane to both geology and astronomy. Astrogeology
is a bridge between these two groups of science. Some of the geological
problems are similar to those of the moon and other planets. Astronauts collected
specimens from the moon to know its geological history. After analysis a few
conclusions were drawn about the geological episodes, which resulted in the
formation of moon and solar system. Spacecraft are continuously probing the
other planets to confirm the evolution of the universe and other inner secrets of
the earth. Recent microwave anisotropic probe revealed some new facts about
the Big Bang Theory. Scientists using robotics precisely determined the age of
the universe as 13.7 billion years. In addition, their probe confirmed that the first
stars in the cosmos started shining just 200 million years after the Big Bang.

▆ Engineering Geology
Engineering geology seeks to apply the geologist’s skill for the benefit of
engineering enterprises. It is concerned with the application of geology in
engineering. A detailed description concerning the scope, application,
development of engineering geology in India is included in Chapter 2.

Descriptive Question
1. Describe in detail the various branches of geology. Discuss the importance of these subjects in

Supplementary Questions
2. Define geology.
3. What is mineralogy? State its importance.
4. What is crystallography? State its importance.
5. What is petrology? Discuss its importance.
6. What is meant by economic geology? Justify the importance in mining.
7. What is meant by hydrogeology? Discuss its importance in civil and mining engineering.
8. What is meant by geochemistry? Briefly discuss its importance. Add a brief note on
geochemical anomalies that will indicate the presence of hidden mineral deposits.
9. What is meant by geodesy? Discuss its importance in surveying and in GIS and GPS
10. What is meant by geophysics? State its importance in earth sciences and engineering.
11. What is meant by structural geology? Discuss its importance in engineering projects.
12. What is volcanology? Explain its importance in understanding the volcanoes of the world.
13. What is the difference between physical geology and geomorphology? Discuss the importance
of these in understanding the physical processes of the earth.
14. What is meant by stratigraphy? State its importance.
15. What is palaeontology? Enumerate its importance in regional geology.
16. What is astrogeology? Discuss its importance in understanding the solar system.
17. Define engineering geology. Add a note on its importance in civil engineering.
18. Who was regarded as the father of engineering geology?
19. Name the pioneer engineering geologist of India.
20. Expand the following abbreviations and explain the role of each of them in earth sciences and
(i) GSI
(ii) ISRO
(iii) NASA
(iv) SAC
(v) NRSA
(vi) SOI
(vii) NGRI
(viii) NMDC
(ix) MEC
(x) COIL
(xi) AMD
(xii) UCIL
(xiii) KGF
(xiv) HGM
(xv) NIOT
(xvi) NIO
(xvii) BARC
Chapter 2

Engineering Geology
Learning Objectives

➠ basics of Engineering Geology

➠ importance of geology in Civil Engineering
➠ responsibilities of civil engineers and the geologists
➠ use of geotechnology in India

The foundation of engineering geology was laid by William Smith, who was
professionally a civil engineer but diverted to geology due to his interest in
nature. He was the first person to introduce the term Engineering Geology hence,
he is regarded as the Father of Engineering Geology. Gradual acceptance of the
value of earth science for orderly planning of major civil engineering projects
was introduced afterwards. The rapid industrialization all over the world also
played a key role in the development of infrastructure by utilizing engineering
geology for planning, from the investigation stage to the maintenance stage.
Engineering geology deals with assessing and providing suitable solutions
to the geological problems encountered during the planning, design and
maintenance of civil engineering structures. Civil engineering is one of the
oldest professions. It is well-known that the successful execution of large civil
engineering structures depends upon the extent to which a particular structure
has been adapted to the geological environment around it. Engineering geology
is a multidisciplinary subject calling for better understanding of the problems of
engineering. Site selection, design and construction of public works, such as
roads, buildings, bridges, dams, reservoirs, tunnels, harbours, etc., are influenced
by the local geological considerations. The development of a nation and its
status are primarily based on its economic stability, which in turn is directly
related to its agricultural and industrial growth. Water and power for a nation of
our size can only be met by civil engineering projects. Adequate knowledge of
engineering geology is essential for civil engineers while dealing with
geoengineering problems.

▆ Definition
Engineering geology is the science or discipline of geology applied to civil
engineering particularly as applied to the design, construction and performance
aspects of engineering structures on and inside the ground.
Engineering geology is concerned with the engineering properties of
geological materials, including strength, compatibility, porosity, permeability
and with the influence of these properties on the selection of location for large
buildings, roads, railroads, bridges, dams and reservoirs, airfields, river pier,
ocean pier and harbour breakwater, etc.
Engineering geology is an independent geologic specialization, with an
individual technical content and with objectives and methods distinct from other
geologic fields of specialization.
The Webster’s defines engineering as the ‘science concerned with applying
scientific knowledge to practical uses divided into different branches as civil,
electrical, mechanical, chemical, mining engineering’. However, the
development and expansion of the engineering field added different disciplines,
such as electronic engineering, material engineering, resource engineering,
computer engineering (Information Technology), etc., to the major subjects, as
per the requirement of the industry and the nation. Many specialized sub-
branches are added based on the requirement of the industry and the nation.
The Dictionary of Geological terms defines an Engineering geologist as
‘one who applies the geological sciences to engineering practice for the purpose
of assuring that the geological factors affecting location, design, construction,
operation and maintenance of engineering works are recognized and adequately
provided for.’


Geology is to civil engineering as faith is to work. The success or failure of an
onshore or offshore civil engineering structure depends largely on the physical
conditions which fall within the province of geology. Thus, the work of an
engineer should be based on his implicit faith in geology and the findings of the
Engineering geology is the branch of earth science studying the geological
conditions for the construction and utilization of engineering structures. The
main purpose of engineering geology is to provide a solution for the safe
construction of civil engineering structures. This is where an engineering
geologist’s role begins: he has to observe and record geological information and
translate this data to practical engineering design, construction and maintenance
of civil engineering projects.
The application of geology—preliminary exploration, design, construction
operation, etc., in the construction of engineering projects, such as dams,
tunnels, highways, canals and buildings results in better and economical
engineering structures. The engineering projects are built on rocks and soil.
Rocks and soil are the basic sources of construction materials. The geological
conditions at the project site influence the engineering problems, which have to
be overcome. Thus, before an engineer chooses the most appropriate site for his
project, he must have a geological prognosis of the concerned site, which means
that there should be compatibility between the rocks and soil of the site and the
construction material (Roger Rhoades, 1946).
The geological aspects of the civil engineering site have to be studied in
detail before the commencement of the project. The civil engineer and the
engineering geologist have to work together in the field in the initial planning
stage. They work together or separately in some stages based on field and project
work requirements. Civil engineers require field training in geology to
understand the natural geological conditions and their influence on civil
engineering projects. A civil engineer must be in a position to understand the
geological map of the project area with due practical knowledge for assessing
the data. Generally, the engineering geologist of the project site approaches the
project civil executive engineer to present field geological maps, geological
cross-sections of the construction site, borehole data details, etc., for taking final
approval for the commencement of the project. In adverse geological conditions
of the project site, the geologist may reject the site or suggest alternative site on
the basis of the geological setting of the region. In such alternatives, the civil
executive engineer should be in a position to study all submitted engineering
geological data for taking a final decision regarding the project. Civil engineers
must take field training in geology to understand geological settings particularly
in the identification of lithological units, outcrop pattern, attitudes of geological
formations, field recognition of faulted displaced zones, assessment of
weatherability pattern of the region, etc. In addition, they must be in a position to
read surface and subsurface geological maps of the region. Engineering geology
is a multidisciplinary subject having interrelation with other disciplines, such as
hydrogeology, rock mechanics, soil mechanics, remote sensing,
photogrammetry, exploration geology, geophysics, geochemistry, drilling,
blasting, etc. A trained civil engineer understands all the field geological
problems and interprets the submitted geological documents to take further
effective action for early clearance, approval or rejection of the project. The
Geological Survey of India, Organization and Training Division, conducts field
trainings on various aspects of geology, including engineering geology. The
earth science departments of a few universities and the Geological Society of
India also undertake field geological camps and training in selective areas with
highly qualified and experienced geologists. In addition, the All India Council of
Technical Education (AICTE), which is a premier body for engineering and
technical education in the country, has undertaken the responsibility of
organizing short-term training programmes through the premier national level
institutions on topics of current interest, including engineering geology.

▆ Responsibilities of Civil Engineers and Geologists

The function of the engineering geologist is to interpret the character of structure
sites and the natural construction materials to be used in the project thus,
supplying information, essential plan and specifications most effectively thereby
reconciling the engineering objective with the natural conditions (Roger
Rhoades, 1946).
The civil engineer’s responsibility is to define what kind of information he
needs concerning the materials and surface and subsurface conditions, it is an
engineering geologist’s responsibility to obtain and interpret that information.
The burden of geologic interpretation rests with the geologist, the burden of
engineering interpretation and application rests with the engineer. The geologist
must assimilate the data and present conclusions and recommendations to the
engineer in a concise, practical form (Roger Rhoades, 1946).
Civil engineers and engineering geologists work together in major civil
engineering projects at different levels starting from the planning stage to the
construction and maintenance stage. Generally, a major civil engineering project
site will be selected on the basis of field investigations. This task starts from the
reconnaissance stage to construction and maintenance. The responsibilities of the
civil engineer and the geologist in a few fields are listed below.
Geological Mapping
An engineering geologist has to prepare a regional geological map of the project
site on the basis of field studies and aerial and satellite data interpretation. In
selective areas subsurface geological maps are also required. A geological map
of the project site is the initial document for geologists and civil engineers to
take further steps in the direction of a detailed exploration.

In this stage a project geologist will undertake selective exploration
techniques for geological feasibility and confirmation of the site for civil
engineering work. Selective geophysical exploration techniques are also utilized
for the confirmation of sub-surface geological conditions. However, it depends
upon the type of the project and nature of the field conditions. In addition,
detailed petrological, structural, mechanical properties of in-situ rocks are also
conducted in the field for the determination of the strength of rocks.

Project Planning
Project planning is the most important aspect in civil engineering. Every civil
engineering project requires a systematic planning of the project and executive
methodologies to be carried out at each stage, based on the type of civil
engineering works. For instance, road planning differs from selecting site for a
major reservoir. Each type of civil engineering project requires planning that
suits the design of the construction. In general, a civil executive engineer
requires a feasibility report of the project that he wants to undertake.
Engineering geologists prepare a basic project report on the basis of the
geological exploration/investigations, taking all field aspects into consideration.
Based on the geological report, the civil engineer prepares a project planning
schedule taking into account the engineering parameters, financial resources,
ecological and social conditions of the region.

Hydrological/Surface Water Maps

Most of the civil engineering projects require a detailed information about the
surface water of the project site. A civil engineer prepares a detailed
hydrological map incorporating available surface water conditions of the region.
The reservoir/dam construction projects require hydrographs of the river basins
before the commencement of the work. Flood data, hydrometeorological data (if
available, for the past 100 years) are required to assess the river basin character
in the past and plan for the reservoir in keeping with the 100 years schedule of
the project. The volume of total runoff, drainage characteristics, sedimentary
process, weatherability, erosion potential estimate are required before planning
for major reservoirs and dams.

Hydrogeological Maps
Ground water is one of the major problems in most of the major civil
engineering works, particularly in tunnel excavation, underground excavations,
underground rail lines, underground mining, deep water foundations, oil and
natural gas extraction structures, dams and reservoir, etc., which cut across the
ground water table. Hydrogeological parameters, such as, porosity, permeability,
specific capacity, specific retention, specific yield, aquifer parameters, etc., are
to be studied in detail before the execution of subsurface civil engineering
structures. Ground water flow depends upon the local hydrogeological
conditions and structural controls of the region. Generally, an engineering
geologist also prepares a structural frequency diagram to assess the movement of
subsurface water.

Slope Stability/Landslide/Land Slip

Landslides are the major sliding activity of rocks or soil mass along slopes.
Stability of slopes is an important factor for all civil engineering projects or
developmental activities. All slopes have the tendency to move. In planning for a
road network in steep hilly terrains, a detailed geological, geomorphological and
a structural geological map of the terrain is required. Geotechnical engineers
assess the nature and extent of the slide on the basis of strength parameters of the
rock mass as well as geological, hydrological, meteorological and structural
conditions of the terrain before adopting suitable landslide preventive measures.

Hydraulic Structures/Dams and Reservoirs

Selection of a suitable site for large dams and reservoirs is a major challenge for
an engineering geologist. The Engineering Division, Geological Survey of India,
generally undertakes field geological investigations of major reservoirs/dams in
our country. Generally, two to three sites are selected initially for projects.
Detailed geological, geotechnical and geophysical surveys are conducted for
confirming surface and subsurface geological conditions of that terrain. Detailed
reports are prepared incorporating previously determined field data and
submitted to the chief engineer for final approval. Geological organizations
recommend and suggest suitable sites based on their investigation. Civil
engineers and geologists discuss technical details of the site on the basis of field
data. Every report requires an in-depth study and interpretation of the field data
before the final selection of the site. In addition, the civil engineer and geologist
both conduct in-situ tests for foundation materials, supervise the construction
methods and appraise the structure after completion.

Seismic Hazards/Seismicity
Among the various natural hazards that our earth is subjected to, an earthquake
happens to be the most devastating natural calamity resulting in a huge loss of
life and material. More than 650 earthquakes of more than magnitude 5.0 have
been recorded since 1890 in our country. It is estimated that over 50 per cent of
the Indian mass is subjected to varying degrees of earthquake shocks. Major
civil engineering constructions require an in-depth study of the seismicity of the
site before the execution of the project. Geophysists, seismologists and
earthquake engineers usually determine the measure to which seismicity affects
the project site before the execution of the work. India’s seismic zoning maps are
available with the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Indian Meteorological
Department (IMD) and National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad. At
present the seismometer and recording instruments are installed in all the major
meteorological departments, National Seismological Observatories at Delhi,
Shillong, Pune, Kodaikanal, National Geophysical Research Institute, Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and in several
other organizations in the country like the Geological Survey of India, Central
Water and Power Research Station and the state governments of Maharashtra,
Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and in a few
universities. A few more seismic recording stations are under different stages of
construction at specified locations in our country.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Each civil engineering project must get ecological clearance from the
government. It is mandatory for the State government/Central government civil
engineering divisions to get the approval of the Department of Environment and
Forest, before the commencement of the project. Each project must accompany a
detailed environmental assessment report incorporating environmental and
ecological aspects of the region before the construction of the civil engineering
structure. In addition, a detailed precautionary or preventive measure for
reduction on the environment and reclamation measures should also be
incorporated. Civil, environmental and geotechnical engineers and engineering
geologists are required to study all ecological problems of the region before
starting and after the completion of the project so as to prescribe suggestive
remedial measures in order to protect the environment of the region.
The civil engineer and engineering geologist must work together in the field
from the reconnaissance stage to the completion of the project with good
coordination to identify the field problems and suggest possible remedial
measures in case of specific geoengineering problems.

▆ Use of Geotechnology in India

In India, the various archaeological structures like innumerable temples, canals
and tanks bear ample testimony to the high skill of engineering and the
application of geological knowledge.
The earliest known application of geotechnology in the construction of
buildings is the ‘Taj Mahal’, built between 1632–1650, in which the principle of
transfer of load to depth, using piles was successfully utilized. Thus, this
monument has been built on a cylindrical well foundation sunk into the soil at
close intervals. The soundness of the design is time testified, even after four
centuries of its existence, the lines and angles of the structure are as accurate as
they were at the time of construction.
Thomas Oldham of the Geological Survey of India is considered as one of
the pioneer engineering geologists. He analysed, in as early as 1852, the
geological factors influencing the choice of the proposed railway alignment
between Calcutta and Patna, a distance of 500 km.
India was one of the few countries in the world that had appreciated the
value of applying geological principles to engineering problems as early as in the
second half of the nineteenth century. Since the last part of the nineteenth
century, the responsibility of engineering geological investigations in India has
been entrusted with the Geological Survey of India (GSI), the pioneer
organization engaged in the pursuit of geological sciences.
R.D. Oldman of GSI undertook studies on the effects of earthquakes on
civil engineering structures. In the late nineteenth century, which saw the
foundation of engineering and seismology, Oldman studied the Assam
earthquake of 12 June 1897. He published a catalogue of Indian earthquakes
from the earliest times to the end of 1896. The first seismograph in India was
installed at Moosa, Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1869. The Indian Meteorological
Department (IMD) set up a network of seismological observations at Shimla,
Kolkata, Kodaikanal, Agra and Hyderabad. In India, the activities in the field of
geophysics began in 1947.
The geophysical research wing at the Geological Survey of India, Calcutta
(now Kolkata) came into existence in 1961. The wing was then transferred to the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1964 and was renamed,
the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI). The institute was then
transferred to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Ever since its inception, NGRI has
conducted several site investigations throughout the country.
A strategic branch of geology was opened within GSI in 1942 to look after
the problems related to the defence requirements of the country. A full-fledged
branch dealing with engineering geology and ground water was established in
1945 under the leadership of J. B. Auden, who was responsible for starting the
modern practice of engineering geology used in our country. Many subdivisions
were established in 1957 at regional centres of GSI to meet the increasing
demand in the field of engineering geology.
The methods, techniques and tools of engineering geological investigations
vastly improved during the period 1950–1980. Standardization of the
methodology and techniques of geotechnical investigations of river valley
projects has been initiated during this period by the Indian Standards. Facilities
for research and teaching in engineering geology and geotechnology have
increased in the Indian universities, institutions and special technological centres
dealing with earthquake-resistant design and construction of structures, roads
and buildings have been established (Krishnaswamy, 1982).
A group of interested geologists from Australia, France, India, Turkey and
the United States of America who had gathered for the twenty-second
International Geological Congress in 1964, formally accepted to form the
International Association of Engineering Geology. The association is a non-
government, independent body, free from political influence and the government
policies. Its objectives are to promote research to diffuse knowledge and to
promote international cooperation in the field of engineering geology for the
benefit of mankind and to support and encourage an exchange of views on the
application of the science of geology for the engineering constructions and
industrial activities.
The Indian Society of Engineering Geology (ISEG), founded in 1965, has
been actively conducting several conferences, symposia related to different types
of engineering developments in the country. ISEG has also been publishing
journals on engineering geology.
Various geoscientists have reviewed the engineering geological problems
and development of engineering geology and geotechnology in India. Among
the few experts are Balasundaram and Rao (1972) who studied the history and
development of engineering geology in India; Hukku, Raju and Sarama (1972)
dealt with the problems of engineering geology in India; Krishnaswamy (1972)
dealt with systematic geotechnical studies in the country; Ramachandran and
Gangopadhyaya (1972) studied engineering geological features of soft rock
areas; Srinivasan, Chalapathi Rao and Bansode (1972) and Ray, Mehta and
Ashraf (1972) studied construction materials available in India and their
utilization in engineering problems in recent years.

▆ Departments Dealing with the Subject

The Engineering Division of Geological Survey of India has been actively
involved in various major civil engineering projects in different geological
terrains in the country.
Engineering and geotechnical divisions have been modernized and they
have procured the latest equipment, instrumentation and computational devices
to take care of difficult geological problems, to solve them and also to suggest
them to the civil engineer right from the planning stage to the construction and
maintenance stage. In addition, technical study is also carried out in marine
geotechnology. The Marine Wing of the Geological Survey of India is looking
after all marine geotechnical problems and mapping of ocean floor. GSI is giving
technical assistance and consultancy to state government agencies and other
required firms after getting approval from the Director General, GSI. The
standard geological map of India, mineral and geological maps of each state,
engineering geological maps of major dams and reservoirs, other civil
engineering sites, etc., are prepared by this organization. Required user agencies,
research scholars, students, those involved in the field of engineering geology,
civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, mining engineering and earth
science fields can get these maps and reports after getting permission from the
Director General, GSI.
A separate Granite Dimension Stone Cell is also established by the GSI for
the preparation of basic granite and ornamental stone deposit maps of different
states. This unit of GSI has already prepared the commercial ornamental rock
deposits of many states. Detailed reserves and resources of commercial rocks
data and maps are available for user agencies. India is one of the leading
exporters of granite/ornamental rocks to other countries. For technical
consultancy and procurement of geological maps, reports, etc., one can contact:
The Director General
Geological Survey of India
27 Jawaharlal Nehru Road
In addition to the Department of Science and Technology collaborated
organizations, the Indian Institute of Technologies, National Institute of
Technologies (former Regional Engineering Colleges), Anna University, Centre
for Geo-engineering, earth science departments of other universities are also
involved in the research and development fields of engineering geology, marine
geotechnology and commercial rock deposits. The Department of Ocean
Development, Central Government, established the National Institute of Ocean
Technology (NIOT), at Chennai, Tamil Nadu for carrying out exclusive study of
marine/ocean technology in the field of marine structures, oceanography, marine
engineering and geological investigations, marine archaeological investigations.
NIOT collaborates for carrying out research and development in the field of
thrust areas in ocean technology and related areas. Research scholars, faculty,
technical universities can contact:
The Director
National Institute of Ocean Technology
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
The Secretary
Ministry of Earth Sciences
Department of Ocean Development
Government of India, New Delhi.
The National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM) is one of the premier
institutes for rock mechanic studies and design of excavations. Recently, a
department of dimension stone, the first of its kind in the country, has been setup
at NIRM by the Ministry of Mines to assist the granite industry for scientific
exploration. NIRM will provide all scientific and technical services for
characterization of the deposits and scientific design of quarries for
granite/dimensional stones. The rock testing facilities are available at the
Institute of International Standards and these are being augmented to meet the
diverse requirements of the industry. NIRM also undertakes civil engineering
project investigations, tunnel excavations, reservoirs, dams, canal works, drilling
and blasting designs of civil engineering sites. Civil/mining/earth science
students, research scholars, faculty, private and public organizations who require
technical knowledge in the field of rock mechanics, can contact the organization
to get more information. Contact address is:
The Director
National Institute of Rock Mechanics
PO: Champion Reefs
Kolar Gold Fields 563 117, Karnataka.
The University Grants Commission (UGC), Department of Science and
Technology (DST), Engineering and Science Division, Science and Technology
Division, Ministry of Human Resource Department (MHRD), Research and
Development Division, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are
some of the agencies that are giving financial support to the research projects in
the field of thrust areas of geoengineering, exploration methods in georesources
evaluation, material engineering, civil and geotechnical engineering. These
organizations frequently change their policies keeping in view the priorities of
our country. The UGC, MHRD, DST and AICTE recently drafted a few schemes
for the benefit of students to get financial assistance for higher education.
Interested students and research faculty can download more information from
the respective websites. In addition, many other Central Government
organizations also actively support the funding of research projects in the field of
engineering geology, geotechnical engineering and environmental geotechnical
engineering. A few international research funding agencies are also supporting
the developing countries in the fields of engineering and geotechnology.


The knowledge of engineering geology and geotechnology plays a vital role in
civil engineering projects (Venkat Reddy, 1995). Few examples which throw
light on the application of engineering geology in India are listed below (extracts
from Krishnaswamy et al., 1974 and 1982).

▆ Hirakud Dam, Orissa

The longest dam in the world is at Hirakud, Orissa, with 5 km of main dam made
of concrete/masonry/earth and about 20 km of low earthen dykes to form the
reservoir. Geological investigation was carried out before the construction of the
dam started in 1948. The dam was completed in 1957. The project area exposed
the Archaean metamorphic rocks, sedimentaries belonging to Gondwanas and
Cuddapahs and post-Cuddapah intrusives. In the right concrete dam area, the
150 m wide fault zone between the Archaeans and Cuddapahs lay towards the
right extreme of the power dam section and continued transversely over the
entire foundation area. The entire fault zone excavation was done under difficult
conditions. Consolidated grouting of the mylonites in the fault zone was carried
out over the entire dam base. To control heavy seepage in the power plant
foundation, 20 tons of cement were injected.

▆ Bhakra Dam, Punjab

One of the very high straight gravity concrete dams in the world – the Bhakra
Dam, Punjab was founded on soft rocks and medium hard rocks, which were
riddled with fault zones cutting across the foundations and abutments in different
latitudes. Geological investigations of the project and construction were carried
out during 1948–1963. The remedial treatment of the problems depended on the
nature, orientation, extent and position of the structure.

▆ Koyna Dam, Maharashtra

One of the fairly high cyclopean dams in the world, constructed across the River
Koyna at Deshmukhwad, Maharashtra, survived a major earthquake that was
very close to that location. Minor horizontal and vertical hairline cracks were
noticed in the dam which was then strengthened by grouting prestressed
anchoring and enlargement by concrete backing during 1969–70. Geological
investigation of the project started in 1956 and the dam was completed in 1961.

▆ Idukki Dam, Kerala

The first major arch dam constructed in the country lies in Idukki, Kerala.
Charnockites and associated granites, pegmatites and biotite-hornblede gneisses
of Peninsular Gneissic Complex (Archaean) constitute the main rock type of the
area. The V-shaped Idukki gorge with a chord-high ratio of 2:1 and massive
rocky abutments with no major adverse geological features offers a natural site
for an arch dam. Geological investigations at the project site started prior to the
commencement of construction in 1966. The dam was completed in the year

▆ Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Andhra Pradesh

The highest stone-masonry dam in the world, the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Andhra
Pradesh has been constructed across River Krishna. The rock types exposed at
the dam site and its vicinity are the granitic gneisses of the Peninsular Gneissic
Complex (Archaean) overlain unconformably by quartzites and shales of the
Srisailam group of the Cuddapah supergroup. The project area lies very close to
the eastern faulted contact of Archaeans and Cuddapah sediments. The main
geotechnical problem encountered at the dam site relates to the treatment of fault
and shear zones in the granites exposed at the foundation and the treatment of
sedimentaries on the abutments to render them watertight. The construction of
the Nagarjuna Sagar multipurpose project was taken up in 1956 and was
completed in 1965. The Engineering Geology Division, GSI carried out the
geotechnical investigations throughout the construction stage.

▆ Srisailam Dam, Andhra Pradesh

The Srisailam Dam has been constructed across the River Krishna, the second
largest river in Peninsular India. It is located at the extreme northwestern corner
of the Cuddapah basin. At the dam site, the quartzites and interbedded shale lie
deceptively flat and undisturbed. However, older argillaceous sediments around
the dam site are exposed in a highly disturbed and contoured state with repeated
foldings and faults. A few portions posed problems of settlement and sliding.
The remedial measures which were adopted against sliding, were to mobilize the
frictional resistance on both sides of the deep channel by slightly arching the
axis of the dam. The physical characteristics of the bedrock units are determined
to establish strength characters. GSI had been associated with the geotechnical
investigations of the project from time to time (Mahendra, 1974).

▆ Ukai Dam, Gujarat

One of the earliest earthen cum masonry dams in India is at Ukai, Gujarat. The
entire dam site is covered by a thick clay overburden and the subsurface geology
in the area had deciphered by drilling 390 boreholes. For evaluation of
subsurface geological structures and bedrock configuration. En-echelon shear
zones, 15 to 90 m wide occur at the dam site. The earth dam section developed
seepage through the foundation, particularly along the shear zones and the
riverbed. Geotechnical investigations were carried out extensively and to
minimize seepage through the shear zones which extend into the reservoir,
chemical grouting employing sodium silicate-monosodic phosphate sodium
silicate-aluminate grout mixes were carried out. GSI, Engineering Geology
Division executed geological/geotechnical investigations prior to the
commencement of construction in the year 1964. The dam was completed in
▆ Pondoh Dam, Himachal Pradesh
One of the longest inter-river diversions in the world, the Beas-Sutlej Link
Project (Pondoh Dam) has been constructed across the Beas River near Pondoh
in Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh for diverting the water from Beas to Sutlej
River along a 33.7 km long tunnel. Some portions of the tunnel had to undergo
very difficult flowing and squeezing conditions. Special tunnelling techniques
were adopted in crushed kaolinized areas and crushed granites and adequate
drainage was provided with grouting. Geological investigations at the project
site started prior to the commencement of construction in the year 1965. The
dam was completed in 1977.

▆ Obra Dam, Uttar Pradesh

One of the successful reservoirs on fairly cavernous Precambrian limestone is at
Obra Dam, Uttar Pradesh. The Obra dam was constructed on the shale with
interbeds of limestone underlying the Kajrahat limestones. The existence of
solution cavities in the limestone interbeds within the shale occurring in the
foundations and the Kajrahat limestone in the reservoir gave rise to two-fold
problems of settling the foundations of civil engineering structures and leakage
of reservoir water from the dam foundation and through the left and right rims of
the reservoir. Elaborate remedial treatment was resorted to in order to tackle
reservoir leakage, piping, settlement and sliding of the foundation, such as a
grout curtain has been provided along the concrete rock main dam below the
bedrock. No significant post-construction problem has been recorded so far
during the last 25–30 years of the operation. Geological and geotechnical
investigations at the project site were carried out prior to construction in 1964
(Krishnaswamy et al., 1974 and 1982)


Descriptive Questions
1. List the technical responsibilities of a civil engineer and an engineering geologist. Discuss the
role of a geologist in civil engineering projects. Add few typical cases in points illustrating
the importance of geology in civil engineering projects.
2. Describe in detail the development of engineering geology and geotechnology in our country
post-independence. Add a note on the typical major civil engineering projects which were
influenced by adverse geological conditions.
3. What is meant by GSI? Discuss the role of the Engineering Division of Geological Survey of
India (GSI) in major civil engineering projects.
Supplementary Questions
4. Define Webster definition of engineering.
5. Define engineering geology in terms of dictionary of geology.
6. Who was the father of engineering geology?
7. Discuss in detail the geological problems encountered during the first railway line project in
8. Name a straight high gravity dam of the world. Enumerate the geological formations of the
project site.
9. Name a concrete/masonry/earth dam of the world. Discuss the geological conditions of the dam
10. Where is the Koyana dam situated in our country? What is its significance with respect to RIS?
11. Where was the first arch dam constructed? State the geology of the dam site.
12. Where is the highest stone and masonry dam situated? State the geology of the dam site.
13. State the geology of Krishna Raja Sagar dam site.
14. What geological problems were encountered during the construction of Ukai dam and how were
they overcome?
15. Name the longest inter-river diversion tunnel in India. What geological problems were
encountered during tunnelling?
Chapter 3

Crystallography and Mineralogy

Learning Objectives

➠ basics of crystallography
➠ different properties of the crystals
➠ different crystal systems
➠ basics of mineralogy
➠ different types of mineral deposits
➠ different properties of minerals

Mineralogy is the branch of geology that deals with the minerals, the basic unit
of composition of rocks. A mineral is a naturally occurring solid material that
has more or less a specific chemical composition. Since minerals are generally
crystalline, crystallography is an essesntial aspect of mineralogy. Hence, the
branch of science that deals with the geometrical properties and internal
structure of the crystals is known as crystallography.

Crystals are bodies bounded by surfaces, usually flat, arranged in a definite
shape which is an expression of the internal arrangement of atoms. They are
formed by the solidification of minerals from the gaseous or liquid states or from
solutions through a process known as crystallization.

▆ Characteristics of Crystals
Crystals are bounded by a number of surfaces that are usually perfectly flat, but
may be curved as in some specimens of siderite and diamond. These surfaces are
termed as faces. They are of two types: viz., like and unlike siderite.

A crystal made up of like faces is called a simple form. A crystal that consists of
two or more simple forms is called a combination.

An edge is formed by the intersection of any two adjacent faces. The position of
an edge in space depends, however, upon the position of the faces whose
intersection gives rise to it.

Solid Angle
A solid angle is formed by the intersection of three or more faces.

Interfacial Angle
The angle between any two faces of a crystal is termed interfacial angle.

Inspection of many crystals shows that their faces are so arranged that the edges
formed by the intersection of certain faces are parallel to one another. Such a set
of faces constitutes a zone and the line with which the edges are parallel is called
the zone-axis.

By examining a crystal, we can see that there is a certain regularity of position of
like faces, edges, etc. This regularity constitutes the symmetry of the crystal. The
symmetry is defined with reference to four parameters:
• Plane of symmetry
• Axis of symmetry
• Centre of symmetry
• Crystallographic axes
Plane of symmetry: A plane of symmetry divides a crystal into two similar and
similarly placed halves. Each half is a mirror image of the other.
Axis of symmetry: If a crystal, on being rotated, comes to occupy the same
position in space more than once in a complete turn, the axis about which the
rotation has taken place is called an axis of symmetry. Depending upon the
degree of symmetry, a crystal may occupy the same position two, three, four or
six times in a complete rotation. The terms applied to these different classes of
axes are as follows:
Two times: two-fold, diad or diagonal axis.
Three times: three-fold, triad or trigonal axis.
Four times: four-fold, tetrad or tetragonal axis.
Six times: six-fold, hexad or hexagonal axis.
Centre of symmetry: A crystal has a centre of symmetry when like faces and
edges, are arranged in pairs in corresponding positions and on opposite sides of a
central point.

Crystallographic Axes: In solid geometry the position of a plane in space is

given by the intercepts that the plane makes on three given lines called axes. The
axes are termed crystallographic axes. For most crystals three axes are required,
namely a, b and c; the axial lengths and interaxial angles depending upon the
crystal system to which the crystal belongs. The three axes intersect at the origin.

Although there are seven crystal systems and 32 crystal classes, many of the
classes have either no mineral representatives or are represented by very rare
minerals or chemical compounds. The crystal classes are described in the
following paragraphs followed by the important mineral representatives of each
class. The classes shown in bold have an importance over the other classes.

▆ Cubic System
Three axes at right angles and with a = b = c
(1) Cubic holosymmetric (hexoctahedral) class: A centre, 9 planes, 3 tetrads, 4
triads and 6 diads. Minerals: Free metals like gold, silver, copper, lead,
platinum and iron; halite (NaCl), galena (PbS), fluorite (CaF2), spinels,
magnetite, garnet (gem varieties of garnet like pyrope, almandine,
spessartine, grossular, and andradite), leucite, diamond.
(2) Pentagonal icositetrahedral class: No centre, no planes, 3 tetrads, 4 triads
and 6 diads. Minerals: Cuprite was thought to belong to this class.
(3) Hexatetrahedral class: No centre, 6 planes, 4 triads and 3 diads. Minerals:
sphalerite, and some telluride and phosphates, tetrahedrite, boracite.

Fig 3.1. Axes and planes of symmetry of a cubic system

(4) Didodecahedral class: A centre, 3 planes, 4 triads and 3 diads. Minerals:

Iron pyrite (FeS2), cobaltite and many nitrates.
(5) Tetrahedral pentagonal dodecahedral class: No centre, no planes, 4 triads
and 3 diads.

▆ Tetragonal System
Three axes at right angles and with a = b = c.
(1) Tetragonal holosymmetric (ditetragonal bipyramidal) class: A centre, 5
planes, 1 tetrad and 4 diads. Minerals: Rutile (TiO2), cassiterite (SnO2), and
zircon (ZrSiO4), anatase, iodocrase and apophyllite.
(2) Tetragonal trapezohedral class: No centre, no planes, 1 tetrad and 4 diads.
(3) Tetragonal scalenohedral (tetragonal bisphenoidal) class: No centre, 2
planes, 1 inversion tetrad (which is equivalent to a diad) and 2 diads. (The
symmetry can also be written as no centre, 2 planes and 3 diads). Minerals:
Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) and the melilite group of minerals.
(4) Ditetragonal hemimorphic (ditetragonal pyramidal) class: No centre, 2
planes and 1 tetrad.
(5) Tetragonal bipyramidal class: A centre, no planes and 1 tetrad.
(6) Tetragonal sphenoidal class: No centre, no planes and 1 inversion tetrad
(equivalent to a diad).

Fig. 3.2. Symmetry axes and planes of a tetragonal system

(7) Tetragonal hemimorphic (tetragonal pyramidal) class: No centre, no planes

and 1 tetrad.

▆ Hexagonal System
Four axes, three horizontal at 120° and one vertical. The three horizontal axes a1
= a2 = a3 are different in length from vertical axis c.
(1) Hexagonal holosymmetric (dihexagonal bipyramidal) class: A centre, 7
planes, 1 hexad and 6 diads. Mineral: Beryl (BeAl2Si6O18) (gem varieties:
emerald, aquamarine).
(2) Hexagonal trapezohedral: No centre, no planes, 1 hexad and 6 diads.
(3) Ditetragonal bipyramidal class: No centre, 3 planes and 1 inversion hexad
(equivalent to a triad axis normal to a plane of symmetry). This gives a
centre, 4 planes, 1 triad and 3 diads.
(4) Dihexagonal hemimorphic (dihexagonal pyramidal) class: No centre, 6
planes and 1 hexad.
(5) Hexagonal bipyramidal class: A centre, 1 plane, and 1 hexad. Mineral:
Apatite ([Ca, F]Ca4[PO4]3) is the most important mineral.
(6) Trigonal bipyramidal class: No centre, no planes and 1 inversion hexad
(equivalent to 1 triad and 1 plane, normal to the axis).
(7) Hexagonal hemimorphic (hexagonal pyramidal) class: No centre, no planes
and 1 hexad. Mineral: Nepheline (NaAlSiO4) is the most important

▆ Trigonal System
(1) Trigonal holosymmetric (ditrigonal scalenohedral) class: A centre, 3 planes,
1 triad and 3 diads. Minerals include the carbonates (calcite, siderite,
rhodocrosite), hematite (Fe2O3) and brucite (Mg[OH]2), corundum
(varieties: ruby, sapphire).
(2) Trigonal trapezohedral class: No centre, no planes, 1 triad and 3 diads.
Minerals: Quartz (gem varieties: chalcedony, sard, agate, flint, chert, jasper,
plasma, blood stone) and cinnabar (HgS).
(3) Ditrigonal hemimorphic (ditrigonal pyramidal) class: No centre, 3 planes
and 1 triad. Minerals: Tourmaline Na(MgFc)3 Al6(BO)33(Si6O18) (OH)4.
(4) Rhombohedral class: No centre, no planes and 1 inversion triad (equivalent
to a centre and 1 triad). Mineral: Dolomite (CaMg[CO3]2)

Fig 3.4. Symmetry axes and planes of a trigonal system

Fig. 3.3. Symmetry axes and planes of a hexagonal system

(5) Trigonal hemimorphic (trigonal pyramidal) class: No centre, no planes and 1

Crystals belonging to tetragonal and hexagonal systems are characterised by
two distinct refractive indices (RI), one in the direction of ‘c’ axis (e) and the
other along ‘a’ axis (w). The RI is identical in all directions at right angles to ‘c’
axis that is equivalent to (w). These crystals possess a single optic axis that
coincides with the vertical axis and therefore they are called uniaxial (Karanth,
Table 3.1. List of uniaxial gems (After Karanth, 2000)

The orthorhombic, monoclinic and triclinic systems are grouped under the
head biaxial crystals. Biaxial gems possess three distinct values of refractive
indices at right angles to each other namely, a—the minimum RI, b—the
intermediate RI and g—the maximum RI for a given mineral.

▆ Orthorhombic System
Three axes at right angles and with a ≠ b ≠ c.
(1) Orthorhombic holosymmetric (orthorhombic bipyramidal) class: A centre, 3
planes and 3 diads. Minerals: Barite (BaSO4) and celestine (SrSO4),
stibnite (Sb2S3), olivine group ([MgFe]2SiO4), orthorhombic pyroxenes,
orthoamphiboles, staurolite, cordierite, andalusite and sillimanite,
chrysoberyl (gem varieties: alexandrite, cymophane).

Fig 3.5. Axes and planes of symmetry of an orthorhombic system

(2) Orthorhombic sphenoidal class: No centre, no planes and 3 diads. Minerals:

Some sulphates and chromates belong to this class.
(3) Orthorhombic hemimorphic (orthorhombic pyramidal) class: No centre, 2
planes and 1 diad. Minerals: Natroloite and hemimorphite.

▆ Monoclinic System
Three axes, with angle b between a and c; and with a ≠ b ≠ c.
(1) Monoclinic holosymmetric (monoclinic prismatic) class: A centre, 1 plane
and 1 diad. Minerals: Gypsum (CaSO4) and many silicates including the
mica group, the clinopyroxenes, the monoclinic amphiboles, K-feldspar, the
epidote group and the chlorite group, jade.
(2) Monoclinic clinohedral (monoclinic domatic) class: No centre, no planes
and 1 inverse diad, which is equivalent to 1 plane. Minerals: Kaolin.

Fig. 3.6. Symmetry plane and axes of a monoclinic system

(3) Monoclinic hemimorphic (monoclinic sphenoidal) class: No centre, no

planes and 1 diad.

▆ Triclinic System
Three axes, none at right angles, with angles a∧c = β, a∧b = γ, b∧c = α. The
three axes are also unequal with a ≠ b ≠ c.
(1) Triclinic holosymmetric (triclinic pinacoidal) class: A centre, no planes and
no axes. Minerals: Plagioclase feldspars, kyanite, axinite.
(2) Asymmetric (triclinic pedial) class: No centre, no planes and no axes.
Some gem minerals are shown in the following figures (after Karanth,

A mineral is a naturally occurring homogeneous solid, inorganically formed,
with a definite chemical composition and an ordered atomic arrangement. There
are at least 2,000 different minerals in nature, of which about 100 are common
and of out of the other 100, about ten are abundant. The essential minerals form
the basis of rock identification which is mandatory for a civil engineer to embark
on his new engineering project. The identification of rock minerals is based on
their physical characteristics as given hereafter.

Diamond Quartz from Central Kerala

Boules of Synthetic corundum and spinel

Synthetic ruby, sapphire

Rough crystals of cubic zirconia

Phatom quartz
Cut forms of synthetic corundum and spinel

Synthetic cobalt-spinel on stilbite

Cut forms of cubic zirconia

▆ Physical Properties of Minerals

Colour depends on the absorption of some and the reflection of other coloured
rays or vibrations which compose ordinary white light. The colour of a mineral
is the most important property. However, in nature, the same mineral may show
different colours. The mineral quartz is colourless in pure form but also found in
various colours, for example, blue, brick-red, greyish-black, etc. However, the
ore mineral chalcopyrite is bronze-yellow in colour, malchite is light green while
azurite is always blue. The colour of a mineral may depend on its usual chemical
composition. For example, an emerald-green colour is characteristic of minerals
containing chromium. Many manganese minerals have a pink or violet colour.
The characteristic colouration of a few minerals is given in Table 3.2.

The streak of a mineral is its powder, which may differ in colour from the
mineral in mass. The streak of a mineral is determined by rubbing the mineral on
an unglazed procelain plate, commonly called a streak-plate. For example, black
hematite gives a cherry-red streak while brass-yellow chalcopyrite gives a
greyish-black streak. Metallic minerals generally produce a coloured streak.
Transparent minerals, on the other hand, are characterized by a colourless streak.
Table 3.3 gives the streak colours of a few minerals.

Lustre is the appearance given to a mineral by light reflected from its surface.
Lustre is one of the most easily observable properties of a mineral. There are six
kinds of lustres.
Table 3.2. Colour of Some Minerals
Table 3.3. Colour of Streak of Some Minerals

Mineral Streak
Graphite Black
Chalcopyrite Brass-yellow
Hematite Cherry-red
Quartz Colourless
Chromite Brown
Rutile Pale brown
Limonite Yellowish-brown
Siderite White
Azurite Blue
Biotite Colourless
Barite White
Gypsum White
(1) Metallic: Metallic minerals show a metallic lustre, e.g., chalcopyrite, pyrite,
(2) Vitrous: Lustre of broken glass reflection, e.g., quartz, calcite.
(3) Resinous: Light reflection, like that of resins, e.g., opal, amber.
(4) Pearly: Sheen of pearls, jewels, etc., e.g., talc, brucite.
(5) Silky: Lustre of silk. Fibrous minerals such as asbestos and gypsum will
show this type of lustre.
(6) Adamantine: Brilliant reflection, like that of diamond.

Transparency and Translucency

A mineral is transparent when the outlines of the objects seen through it appear
sharp and distinct, e.g., rock crystal and selenite.
Minerals are grouped into subtransparent or semitransparent when objects
seen through them appear indistinct. Minerals which, though capable of
transmitting light, cannot be seen are grouped as translucent. Minerals are
grouped as opaque when no light is transmitted through them, e. g., ore minerals.

Forms of Minerals
Minerals that assume certain definite geometrical forms under favourable
circumstances are termed crystals. The following general descriptive terms are
used for crystalline characters:
(1) Crystallized: Minerals which show well-developed crystals are termed
(2) Crystalline: Crystals are developed but minerals of imperfectly formed
grains are termed crystalline.
(3) Cryptocrystalline: Minerals which show mere traces of crystalline structures
are termed cryptocrystalline. Minerals which assume various indeterminate
forms but do not show clear crystalline characters are described by the
following terms:
• Acicular: Fine needle-like mineral growth, e.g., natrolite.
• Bladed: Shape of minerals resembles a knife blade, e. g., kyanite.
Table 3.4. Moh’s Scale of Hardness
• Botryoidal: Spheroidal aggregate forms, resembling a bunch of grapes, e. g.,
botryoidal hematite.
• Columnar: Showing a form resembling slender columns, e. g., hornblende.
• Dendritic: Treelike or mass-like form, generally produced by the deposition of
manganese oxide.
• Fibrous: Fine threadlike strands exhibited by asbestos and gypsum.
• Granular: Even granular aggregates, resembling a lump of sugar, e. g., marble.
• Radiated: Needlelike crystals radiating from a centre, e.g., pyrite

The hardness of a mineral is determined by measuring its resistance to
scratching. The Moh’s scale of hardness is commonly used for assessing this
characteristic. The scale consists of 10 reference minerals, each of which is
assigned a number in order of increasing hardness from 1 to 10 (lowest hardness
to highest hardness).

A broken mineral resulting neither from cleavage nor partings is termed a
fractured mineral. Fractures are neither linear nor parallel. A mineral’s hardness
or softness depends on its tenacity. Soft minerals are easily flattened with the
impact of a hammer. Viscous minerals, on the other hand are very hard to break.
Brittle minerals break or crush into finer fragments. Flexible minerals are readily
bent rather than broken. There are many foliated minerals. Malleable minerals
generally show a hackly fracture. Fractures may be grouped into the following
(1) Even fracture: The fracture surface is flat or plane.
(2) Uneven fracture: The fracture surface is rough with various sizes and
shapes. Most minerals exhibit an uneven fracture.
(3) Splintery fracture: This fracture is commonly observed in fibrous mineral
aggregates and outwardly resembles the fracture of a woodstick (across the
(4) Conchoidal fracture: This is a typical fracture exhibited by minerals
breaking with curved, concave or convex fractures. Conchoidal fractures
are shown by natural glass and quartz minerals.
(5) Hackly: Surface elevations of minerals exhibiting sharp and jagged
contours. Malleable minerals, such as native copper, exhibit this type of

The property of a mineral to split under the influence of force, more or less
parallel to the crystal faces, is known as cleavage. Minerals may cleave in one,
two, three or more directions. One cleavage is generally to be obtained with
greater ease than the others. Minerals, such as galena, calcite, mica show perfect
cleavage. It is important to distinguish between cleavage and fracture of
minerals. Cleavage is one of the diagnostic properties for is identification of
minerals in the field or laboratory.

The density of natural minerals varies from 0.8 to 21. However, in field
identification it is necessary to determine relative density by weighing the
specimen on the palm. In field identification, the following terms are generally
adopted (Table 3.5).
Table 3.5. Density of Minerals

Minerals Density
(gm per cubic centimetre)
Light minerals 0.8 to 2.5
Intermediate minerals 2.5 to 3.3
Heavy minerals 3.4 to 6.0
Very heavy minerals More than 6.0

▆ Magnetic and Radioactive Properties

Magnetic property: Magnetite and pyrrhotite show a magnetic property with an
ordinary bar magnet. In the field, the magnetic property of a mineral is easily
determined by deflection of the compass needle. Moderately, magnetic minerals
show a magnetic property only after being heated. Minerals are grouped as show
in Table 3.6.
Table 3.6. Magnetic Property of Some Minerals

Minerals Property Minerals

Highly magnetic Magnetite, Pyrrhotite
Moderately magnetic Chromite, Siderite,
Illmenite, hematite
Weakly magnetic Tourmaline, Spinel, Monazite
Non-magnetic Calcite, Quartz, Feldspars

Radiation of uranium, thorium and their product decay are easily detected by
highly sensitive instruments. Radioactive minerals are identified by using
photographic plates and other sensitive radioactive detecting instruments.
Field equipment required for the determination of physical properties of
minerals are:
(1) Compass hammer
(2) Geological hammer
(3) Pocketknife
(4) Magnifying glass
(5) Unglazed porcelain plate (streak plate)
(6) Hardness box (or piece of quartz, window glass, copper coin)
(7) Photographic paper

Optical Properties of Minerals

For a detailed study of mineral properties, a petrological microscope is used. In
some instances, hard specimen minerals are not identifable in the field. However,
for the observation of rocks and minerals, thin sections are required. The
following terminology is used while observing optical properties under a
petrological microscope:

Nature of Light
Light vibrations are the result of rapid periodic changes in the electromagnetic
condition and are transverse to the direction of propagation of light.

Ordinary Light
In ordinary light, the vibrations take place in all directions in a plane at right to
the ray.

Polarized Light
In polarized light, the vibrations are confined to one direction at this place. Light
is said to be plane polarized or polarized if the vibrations are confined to one
direction in this plane.

Double Refraction
In isotropic substances, the refractive index has the same value for all directions.
A ray of light passing through a substance remains a single ray. Isotropic
substances are single refracting. On the other hand, a ray of light entering an
anisotropic, forms two refracted rays. This characterisitic phenomenon is called
double refraction. However, ordinary and extraordinary rays possessing different
characters travel with different velocities. The difference between the greatest
and the least indices of refraction of minerals is known as birefringence. The
amount of birefringences indicates the amount of double refraction.

Isotropic Substances
Substances in which light travels with equal velocity in all directions are called
isotropic substances. These substances do not show double refraction. Minerals
of the cubic system show isotropy.

Anisotropic Substances
Substances in which light travels in different velocities in different directions are
called anisotropic substances. Minerals belonging to systems other than cubic
systems show anisotropy.

▆ Petrological Microscope
This type of microscope, used to study optical properties of minerals and rocks is
shown in Fig. 3.7. A petrological microscope differs from a biological
microscope in providing additional Nicol prisms. Two Nicol prisms are fixed,
the one below the rotating stage is called the polarizer and the other, above the
eyepiece, is called the analyser. The various parts of a petrological microscope
are as follows:

Parts of a Microscope
(1) Ocular: A tube which fits into the tube of the microscope.
(2) Objectives: Several objectives are manufactured depending on the
magnification. The working distance is the distance between the objective
and the top of the microslide when the objective is in focus. The adjustment
is based on the visibility of the object through the eyepiece.
(3) Analyser: A polarizing plate or Nicol prism is mounted in the tube of the
microscope above the objective.
(4) Polarizer: A polaroid plate or prism mounted on the stage. It can be fixed at
any angle, adjusting planes to the analyser. In the eyepiece, cross hairs are
to be set parallel to the two planes for proper identification of the mineral.
(5) Amci-Bertrand lens: The Amci-Bertrand lens is fixed in the tube of the
microscope between the ocular and the analyser. It helps to bring the image
of an interfering figure into the focal point of the ocular of the microscope.
(6) Diaphragm: Fixed to the lower side of the tube of the polarizer, the
diaphragm is used to reduce the cone of light during observation of the
objective view.
(7) Mirror: The light in the microscope system is adjusted with a mirror.
(8) Fine adjustments: The visible image field is adjusted by rotating the fine
adjustment knobs to bring the image into a sharp focal contrast.
Fig. 3.7. A Petrological Microscope

▆ Observable Properties of Minerals

The optical properties of minerals are studied under a petrological microscope in
three ways: (a) Ordinary light (b) Polarized light (c) Crossed Nicols.

Ordinary Light
To observe the following properties of minerals, both the analyser and the
polarizer have to be removed.
(1) Colour: Some minerals appear colourless while others show colours.
(2) Form: The shape and size of the minerals are identified while observing the
sides of the minerals. Three important forms are recognized.
(3) Euhedral: If a mineral shows a definite size and shape such as a crystalline
form, it is said to be euhedral. Crystalline minerals generally show euhedral
forms, for example, plagioclase, garnet.
(4) Subhedral: Minerals that show development in both sides and another side
irregular are grouped as subhedral, e.g., orthoclase.
(5) Anhedral: Minerals showing irregular size and shape are considered
anhedral in form, e.g., quartz, etc.
(6) Cleavage: Cleavage appears in thin sections in one or more sets. Partings of
the mineral are observed under the microscope. Cleavage is noted on the
basis of one set, two sets or multiple sets, e.g., orthoclase shows two sets,
calcite shows three sets.

Polarized Light
A polarized Nicol prism is inserted between the stage and the mirror. The
following properties are observed under polarized light:

Pleochroism: Pleochroism or showing a change in the quality of colour is due to

unequal absorption of light vibrating in different planes, e.g., hornblende shows
light green to dark green pleochroism; biotite exhibits pleochroism from light
brown to dark brown.

Pleochroic halos: Small pleochroic halos are identified in the rotating stage.

Crossed Nicols
The properties of minerals are studied by placing the mineral between crossed
Nicols. Both the analyser and polarizer are inserted. These Nicols are arranged in
such a way that their vibration planes are at right angles to one another hence,
they are termed ‘crossed’.
Isotropic minerals or minerals crystallizing in an isometric system show no
extinction but a black colour. Minerals crystallizing in other than a cubic system
show extinction. Such minerals are called anisotropic minerals. The extinction is
one of the diagnostic features for the identification of minerals. There are two
types of extinctions:
Parallel or straight extinction: If the mineral becomes dark between crossed
Nicols, with the cleavage parallel to the vibration directions of the two Nicols,
the extinction is said to be parallel, e.g., calcite

Oblique or inclined extinction: Minerals extinguish between crossed Nicols

when cleavages or crystal boundaries lie oblique to the plane of vibration of the
two Nicols. These are said to have oblique or inclined extinction, e.g., othoclase
5°–12° angle, labrodorite 35° angle.
Polarization colours are observed in crossed Nicols. An isometric mineral
does not show polarization colours. While an anisotropic mineral shows
polarization colours, e.g., quartz shows light grey. Olivine shows multiple

Alteration: An altered mineral shows turbid colours.

▆ Geological Process of Mineral Deposits

Minerals are the products of natural physicochemical processes. These processes
depend on the concentration of the components, temperature, pressure and
interaction of the minerals with existing country rocks. Minerals are hard solid
substances; their origin is reduced to a phasal transition of the existing substance
from a liquid to a solid form or gaseous to a solid form. However, the phasal
transition of liquid to solid form is more common in mineral formation.

Mineral deposits are broadly grouped into two types: Syngenetic deposits and
epigenetic deposits.

▆ Syngenetic Deposits
Mineral deposits are formed at the same time with the enclosing or associated
rocks. For example, ore deposits formed by magnetic segregation. Chromite
deposits in ultrabasic igneous rocks are bedded with mineral deposits.

▆ Epigenetic Deposits
Epigenetic deposits are formed later than associated or enclosing rocks. Some
deposits have filled or open fissures in the country rocks. Such deposits are
termed veins or lodes.
▆ Types of Mineral Deposits

Magnetic Segregations
Magnetic cooling results in the formation of minerals from the magnetic melt.
The differentiation of magma is due to a physicochemical process that results in
magnetic rocks which differ in mineralogical composition. The process of
crystallization has been ordered by the American petrologist N. Bowen and is
known as the Bowen reaction series.
The Bowen reaction series explains the two reaction series. One is
considered a discontinuous series and the other a continuous series. In the
continuous series, plagioclases grade into each other in both composition and
crystallization temperature. During crystallization, the crystals react
continuously with the melt, changing their composition towards the NaAlSi3O8
end member. In the discontinuous series, reactions between crystals and melt
occur only during certain portions of the cooling sequences. In the final stage,
either from the continuous or the discontinuous series, melt forms orthoclase
muscovite and quartz.
Magnetic segregation results in the formation of important deposits of
platinum, native copper, metallic oxides, such as magnetite, ilmenites and
sulphides like chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite. The process of assimilation plays an
important role in the formation of magnetic rocks. These rocks are grouped into
primary magnetic and secondary magnetic.
Primary minerals are formed due to crystallization of magma. Secondary
minerals are formed in later stages. For instance, plagioclases of primary
minerals decompose to form such secondary minerals as zeolites, sericities, etc.
Pyroxenes and amphiboles of the primary stages decompose to form chlorites
and epidotes or secondary minerals.

Pegmatite Deposits
Pegmatities are coarse granular veined bodies and similar in composition to
intrusions. Pegmatities are distinguished by their texture, structure and in some
instances, the presence of rare earth minerals. Most pegmatities are closely
related to granites. Veins of pegmatities are several kilometres in length and up
to several metres in thickness. Pegmatitic veins with mica deposits are
distributed in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. Pegmatite
magma is very fluid and is intruded as veins, strings and dykes particularly
around the borders of granite rocks. Hence, they form minerals like feldspars,
quartz, mica and some gemstones.

Hydrothermal Ore Deposits

Hydrothermal solutions are hot in nature and separated from the magma due to
liquefaction of gases. Hydrothermal solutions are mainly responsible for the
flow from the magmatic chamber. During the hydrothermal process, enclosing
rocks undergo marked changes. Hydrothermal solutions act upon ultrabasic
rocks and dolomites and form asbestos, talc and magnesite. The hydrothermal
process results in the formation of radioactive minerals, gold and other non-
metallic minerals.

Metamorphic Deposits
Mineral deposits which are already formed may be subjected to metamorphic
changes. In this process, impure ore minerals may convert into workable
deposits. For instance, hydrated iron ores are converted to magnetite and
hematite deposits.

Sedimentary Deposits
Sedimentary deposits are formed by the process of sedimentation. The
sedimentary process is detailed in Chapter 6 (Weathering of Rocks). Secondary
deposits are formed as bedded deposits, for instance, iron ores, phosphate
deposits and coal deposits.

Alluvial Deposits
Rivers carry away sediments along their courses. However, as the velocity of the
river reduces, accumulation of sediments is deposited. Lighter minerals carry
along the river water flow. However heavier minerals deposited in the river beds,
e. g., gold, gem, uranium, etc.

Rock forming Minerals

Rock is an aggregate of natural minerals. Minerals are broadly grouped into two
types, namely, rock forming minerals and economic minerals. Rock forming
minerals are mainly responsible for the formation of rocks, whereas, economic
minerals are utilized for various industrial purposes. Hence these minerals are
also called industrial minerals. The classification of rocks is done on the basis of
the percentage of rock-forming minerals. These minerals, based on their
percentage of occurrence in the rock, are broadly classified into three types,
namely, essential minerals, accessory minerals and secondary minerals.
Essential minerals are those whose presence or absence implies the name of
the rock. Essential minerals are constitutents of the rock. For instance, in granite,
rock quartz and feldspars are considered essential minerals.
Accessory minerals are those whose presence or absence will not influence
the classification of rocks. They exist in small proportions in the rock. For
instance, in granite rock biotite, hornblende tourmaline, etc., are accessory
minerals. In some instances, to distinguish between the rocks within the same
group, they are named after the accessory minerals, e. g., hornblende granite,
biotite granite. Here hornblende and biotites are accessory minerals but their
percentage amongst the accessory minerals is more.
Secondary minerals are those which result from the decomposition of the
earlier minerals, e.g., chlorite, serpentine, epidote, kaoline, zeolites, etc.

Silicate Minerals
The silicates include a large number of minerals. The earth’s crust consists of
about 95 per cent silicate minerals of which 60 per cent constitute feldspars and
12 per cent quartz. The predominance of silicates is due to the abundance of
oxygen, silicon and aluminium, which are considered the common elements in
the earth’s crust.

Silica Group
Silica occurs in nature in seven distinct forms as quartz, tridymitie, cristobalite,
opal, coesite, stishovite and lechatelierite. Amongst all the forms, quartz is the
most common mineral and occurs in a large number of acid rocks. However,
tridymite and cristobalite are widely distributed in volcanic rocks. Meteorites
and craters consist of coesite and stishovirte. Opal is not uncommon and
lechatelierite is very rare.

Quartz Group
Quartz [SiO2] crystals commonly appear prismatic with two sets of
rhombohedrons. If the two sets are equally developed, the appearance is that of a
hexagonal dipyramid. Quartz crystals often show faces which are irregularly
developed. A few quartz minerals show cavity filling and banded, grandular,
oolitic forms.
Colour: Pure quartz is colourless but otherwise it can occur in any shade. Some
varieties of quartz show white, rose, red, grey, violet, brown shades.
Streak: Colourless, white.
Cleavage: Absent.
Fracture: Uneven, subconchoidal.
Specific gravity: 2.65–2.8.
Lustre: Vitreous, subvitreous.
Other properties: Piezoelectric.
Diagnostic features: Quartz is generally recognized by its crystal form, hardness
and lack of cleavage.
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless in thin sections. Often contains inclusions.
Forms: Euhedral shape in prismatic crystals. In some varieties, intergrowth with
orthoclase or microcline. The intergrowth is commonly seen in graphic granites.
Cleavage: Usually absent. In some varieties, cleavage planes are observed on the
Relief: Very low.
Birefringence: Weak.
Extinction: Wavy extinction shown due to strain.
However, a euhedral mineral shows parallel extinction.
Distinguishing feature: Quartz is identified on the basis of lack of alteration,
absence of cleavage and wavy extinction.

Varieties of Quartz
(a) Rock crystal: Colourless, transparent.
(b) Amethyst: Violet or purple colour. This colour is due to manganese.
Amethysts are used in ornaments and considered semiprecious stones. They
occur in lining cavities in volcanic rocks.
(c) Rose quartz: Rose colour.
(d) Milky quartz: A common variety. Milkiness is due to the presence of air
(e) Smoky quartz: Smoky-yellow or smoky-brown colour.
(f) Chalcedony: Uniform light colour.
(g) Agate: Banded form on chalcedony. Banding nature is formed due to
intermittent deposition on cavities. However, bands are parallel to the walls of
the cavity. Some varieties show attractive colour banding. These are used for
(h) Jasper: Red or brown colour due to colloidal iron oxide particles.
(i) Flint and chert: Occur in nodular forms in sedimentary rocks. Mineral edges
are very sharp and tough. These minerals were used by prehistoric people for
various purposes.
(j) Silicified Wood: Generally consists of brownish or reddish chalcedony.

Occurrence: Quartz is a very common mineral and abundantly available in the

crustal layers of the earth. Quartz occurs as veins or reegs intruding into country
rocks. Quartz occurs as the original constitutent of acids, igneous rocks such as
granites, rhyolites, etc. It is a detrital mineral in sandstones. Metamorphic rocks
also consist of quartz.

India’s Mineral Resources: India has large and extensive deposits of quartz and
silica sands. These minerals are available in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi,
Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan,
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh: Shadnagar and Elakatta Mehaboobnagar district have quartz
crushing centres, Pagidyala, Gandeed Mandal Pargi taluka Ranga Reddy district
have extensive deposits of glass making grade milky white quartz. The
piezoelectric grade is also reported from Ranga Reddy and Mehboobnagar
districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Bihar: Glass manufacturing quartz is mined near Kulham, Kendadih and Sini in
Singhbhum district.
Gujarat: Glass sands are available in the Panam riverbed, Mesri river at Godhra
in Panchamahal district and Jaloda in Vadodara.
Karnataka: Glass manufacturing quartz is available in Bilikalbetta in Shimoga,
Kengari in Bangalore, Arkera and Khurud in Gulbarga district.
Rajasthan: Glass sands are mined in Bundi, Dausa in Jaipur and at Adalpur in
Sawai Madhopur.
Uttar Pradesh: Two-thirds of the country’s requirements for glass sand are from
Allahabad-Naini regions.
Kerala: Pennavalli in Alleppey district and Palipuram in Quilon district are
important centres for mining of glass sands.

Industrial Uses: Rock crystal or pure quartz crystal, free from inclusions, is used
in controlling the frequency of electrical impulses. This pure quartz crystal
shows piezoelectricity. When quartz crystals are subjected to direct pressure,
positive and negative charges develop at the two ends of the quartz plates.
Quartz plates are used in controlling frequencies in radio circuits, radar,
ultrasonic and multiple telephone lines. Fibre-quartz wires are presently used for
transmission of telephone messages. Each minute fibre wire can send a large
Quartz crystals cut into prisms are used as quartz wedges and lenses in
petrological microscopes and other optical accessories.
Glass manufacturing: Quartz and silica sand are commonly used in the
manufacture of glass. The percentage of silica varies depending on the type of
quartz. Manufacturing of colourless glass and optical glass requires a silica sand
percentage of about 99.5 with an iron content of less than 0.008 per cent.
However, in manufacturing coloured glass, colouring agents such as nickel
oxide, selenium, copper oxide and iron sulphide are added.

Abrasives: Pure sand, free from impurities, is used in manufacturing sand paper
and abrasive cloth.

Ceramics: Pure silica sand is used in ceramics.

Silicon-carbide: Silicon-carbide is prepared from quartz and petroleum coke. It

is useful in grinding wheels and is used for automobile spare parts, engines,
aircraft, etc.

Other uses: Quartz is also used in the preparation of activated silica for
absorption of water moisture.
Activated silica is used for drying of paints. Quartz is also used in

Ornamental stones: Agate minerals are used in semiprecious stones.

Feldspar Group
The feldspars are the most important rock forming minerals. Feldspars are
abundantly available in igneous rocks. They are a group of minerals consisting
of potassium, calcium, sodium and aluminium and are considered as an
isomorphic mixture of orthoclase potassium-aluminium silicate, KAlSi3O8,
Albite (Ab), sodium aluminium silicate, NaAlSi3O8, Anorthite (An), calcium
aluminium silicate, CaAl2Si2O8.
Albite (Ab): Sodium aluminium silicate, NaAlSi3O8.
Anorthite (An): Calcium aluminium silicate, CaAl2Si2O8.
These are the chief members of the feldspar group. Albite forms the alkali
feldspar group, with anorthite absent or present as a minor constitutent. Albite
and anorthite form the plagioclase group in which the composition range varies
from 100 per cent albite to 100 per cent anorthite.

Composition: Potassium aluminium silicate, KAlSi3O8.
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Habitats: Short prismatic crystals, crystal twin.
Colour: White or pink.
Lustre: Vitreous to subvitreous.
Streak: White.
Cleavage: 2 sets of perfect cleavage.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 6.
Specific gravity: 2.65
Diagnostic features: Orthoclase shows a white to pink colour with perfect
cleavage planes.

Occurrence: Orthoclase occurs in acids and igneous rocks, whereas microlines

are associated with pegmatite and occur in veins.
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless in thin sections but shows cloudy appearance due to incipient
alteration with quartz.
Form: Subhedral and anhedral.
Cleavage: Perfect cleavage.
Relief: Low.
Birefringence: Weak.
Extinction: 5° to 12°.
Twinning: Present.
Distinguishing feature: Orthoclase is distinguished by its cloudy appearance with
an extinction angle.

Composition: Potassium aluminium silicate.
Crystal system: Triclinic.
Colour: Bright green, cream white.
Form: Prismatic, crystal.
Streak: White.
Cleavage: Perfect cleavage.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 6.
Specific gravity: 2.6.
Lustre: Vitreous to subvitreous.
Diagnostic feature: Microline is distinguished from orthoclase by its bright
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless or cloudy.
Form: Subhedral.
Cleavage: Perfect cleavage.
Extinction angle: 15° in (001) 5° in (010)
Twinning: Polysynthetic twinning.
Intergrowth: Albite is commonly intergrown with microcline and forms perthite.
Distinguishing feature: Microline is distinguished from orthoclase by
polysynthethic twinning with 15° extinction angle.

Plagioclase Feldspars Series

The plagioclase feldspars are isomorphic mixtures of albite, NaAlSi3O8 and
anorthite., CaAl2Si2O8. Various members of the plagioclase series are described
(Ab = Albite and An = Anorthite)
Albite – Ab100 – An0 – less than 10 per cent An.
Oligoclase – Ab90 An10 to Ab70 An30 …
with 10–30 per cent An.
Adesine – Ab70 to Ab50 An50, i.e.,
with 30–50 per cent An.
Labradorite – Ab50 An50 to Ab30 An70, i.e.,
with 50–70 per cent An.
Bytownite – Ab30 An70 to Ab10 An90, i.e.,
with 70–90 per cent An.
Anorthite – Ab10 An90 Ab0 An100, i.e.,
with more than 90 per cent An.
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Tabular form, massive.
Cleavage: Perfect.
Streak: White.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 6.
Specific gravity: 2.6.
Lustre: Subvitreous.
Diagnostic feature: Plagioclases can be distinguished from potash feldspars by
twinning striations on the basal cleavage surfaces.
However, identification of individual minerals is done with optical properties.
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Lath-shaped or banded.
Cleavage: Perfect.
Relief: Low.
Extinction: Varies.
Twinning: Polysynthetic twinning.
Distinguishing feature: The distinguishing feature of plagioclase feldspar is its
lath-shape twinning. Each member of the feldspar series is identified on the basis
of an extinction angle.
Albite shows an extinction angle of 12° to 19°.
Oligoclase 0° to 12°
Andesine 13° to 27°
Labradorite 27° to 39°
Bytownite 39° to 51°
Anorthite 51° to 70°
Occurrence of Feldspar Minerals: Orthoclase occurs in most of the igneous
rocks as an essential mineral. Microcline is formed at a lower temperature than
orthoclase. Microcline is the common potash feldspar of pegmatites and
hydrothermal veins. Microclines also occur in a few metamorphic rocks.
Plagioclase occurs in igneous rocks, such as gabbros, anorthosites, andesites,
monzonites. Plagioclases are common in low-grade metamorphic schists and
India’s Mineral Resources: Feldspathic-rich pegmatites are widely distributed
in India. Workable major mineral areas are situated in Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil
Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Rajasthan
produces about 65 per cent of the country’s total production. Important
commercial feldspar producing mining centres are in Rajasthan and Kalesra,
Nagelao, Ramsar, Kharva, Kalyanpura, Sanod, Sahapur, Kalauthera, Kurari
Makrara in Ajmer and Dungarwara.
Bihar: Sonebad in Dhanbad, Kokloah in Santhal Parganas.
Madhya Pradesh: Lametaghat in Jabalpur district.
Tamil Nadu: Jambudure-Kottai, Madurai district, Namakkal, Tindamangalam,
Sankaridurg, Iddapadi, Tiruchengodu, Paramadi in Salem district, Erode in
Coimbatore district. West Bengal: Paradi, Bunagaram, Furguridih Murubag,
Sanka, Satudih, Purulia district.
Gujarat: Panch Mahal and Sabarkantha district.

Industrial uses: Feldspars are used in the manufacturing of porcelain tiles, china
and earthenware. Potash feldspars are used in glass manufacturing.
Feldspars work as flux and their content of aluminium provides good
resistance to bending in glass as well as thermal resistance. Feldspars are also
used in the preparation of various types of glazed tiles. For this purpose the
feldspars are mixed with silica powder to prepare a slurry.

Pyroxene Group
The pyroxenes are metasilicates which generally form original rock constituents.
In chemical composition, the pyroxenes are silicates of iron, magnesium and
calcium, some varieties with aluminium, sodium or lithium. Pyroxenes
crystallize in orthorhombic and monoclinic systems. The pyroxene group is
divided into two subgroups:
(i) Orthorhombic pyroxenes:
Enstatite MgSiO3
Hypersthenes pyroxenes (Mg, Fe) SiO3
(ii) Monoclinic pyroxenes:
Augite (Ca, Mg, Fe, Al)2 (Si, Al)2 O6
Diopside (Ca, Mg, Si2O6).

Orthorhombic Pyroxenes

Composition: Magnesium silicate MgSiO3.
Crystal system: Orthorhombic and nearly eight-sided prismatic.
Colour: Colourless with greyish and greenish tints.
Streak: Colourless.
Cleavage: Well-developed, giving rise to two sets of cleavage planes which
intersect at nearly 90°.
Lustre: Vitreous or pearly.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 5.5.
Specific gravity: 3.2.
Diagnostic feature: Colour is the diagnostic property of the mineral.
Occurrence: Enstatite occurs in gabbos, diorites and dykes.

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Prismatic.
Cleavage: Two-directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Alteration: Enstatite commonly alters to antigorite.

Composition: Iron magnesium silicate (Mg, Fe)SiO3.
Form: Prismatic, massive.
Colour: Brownish-green, greenish-black, brown.
Streak: Colourless.
Hardness: 5–6.
Specific gravity: 3.4–3.5.
Fracture: Uneven.
Lustre: Submetallic.
Diagnostic feature: Difficult to distinguish from augite.

Occurrence: Hypersthene is found in igneous rocks, e. g., gabbro, andesite,


Optical Properties
Colour: Pale green to pale red.
Pleochroism: Greenish to pale reddish.
Form: Prismatic.
Cleavage: Parallel.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Diagnostic feature: Pleochroism is the distinct feature of hypersthene.
Monoclinic Pyroxenes

Composition: Calcium, magnesium.
Metasilicate: Ca, Mg (Si2O6).
Crystal system: Monoclinic, usually occurs as granular.
Colour: White, green, darkish-green.
Lustre: Vitreous.
Hardness: 5–6.
Specific gravity: 3.2–3.4.
Cleavage: Parallel to prismatic.
Fracture: Uneven.
Diagnostic feature: Colour of the mineral is white to pale green, compared to

Occurrence: Occurs in metamorphosed dolomitic limestones and metamorphic


Optical Properties
Colour: Pale green, neutral or colourless.
Form: Subhedral.
Cleavage: Two-directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: 38° – 44°.
Diopside alters to tremolite-actinolite.

Composition: Silicate of calcium, magnesium, iron and aluminium (Ca, Mg, Fe,
Al)2 (AlSi)2O6.
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Colour: Dark green to black.
Streak: White, its lustre vitreous.
Cleavage: Prismatic, 2 sets.
Hardness: 5.5.
Specific gravity: 3.2.
Lustre: Resinous, waxy.
Diagnostic feature: Augite is distinguished from diopside by its dark green to
black colour with 2 sets of cleavage.

Occurrence: Occurs in basic igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Optical Properties
Colour: Purplish-brown, pale-greenish.
Pleochroism: Absent.
Form: Short-prismatic crystals.
Cleavage: Two directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: 36°– 45°.
Distinguishing feature: Difficult to distinguish from diopside. It shows a lighter
colour than augite.
Industrial Uses: Pyroxenes are rock forming minerals.

Amphibole Group
The amphibole group includes a number of important minerals. Most of them
crystallize in a monocline system whereas anthophylite crystallizes in an
orthorhombic system.
Hornblende is the commonly available mineral among other groups; its
properties are described below.

Composition: Silicate of aluminium, calcium, magnesium and iron with sodium.
(Ca, Mg, Fe, Al)7–8 (Al, Si)8 O22 (OH)2
Crystal system: Monoclinic acicular, bladed.
Colour: Light green.
Cleavage: Perfect 2 sets.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 5.5.
Specific gravity: 3.0.
Lustre: Resinous.
Diagnostic feature: Colour and cleavage planes.

Occurrence: A widespread rock-forming mineral in igneous rock. Hornblende

occurs as an accessory mineral and is available in medium grade metamorphic

Optical Properties
Colour: Light green.
Pleochroism: One order colour to next order: light green to dark green.
Cleavage: Two-directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: 12°–30°.
Distinguishing feature: Differs from augite based on pleochroism and extinction
Uses: A rock-forming mineral.

Olivine is the common mineral available in the group and is described here.

Composition: Magnesium iron orthosilicate (Mg, Fe)2SiO4 with Mg in excess of
Cryst system: Orthohombic.
Common form: Granular.
Colour: Green.
Streak: Light green.
Cleavage: Imperfect.
Hardness: 7.
Specific Gravity: 3.
Lustre: Subvitreous to dull.
Diagnostic feature: Granular form with olive-green colour is its distinguishing

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless
Form: Polygonal outlines.
Cleavage: Imperfect.
Relief: Very high.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Colour, polygonal outlines with high relief.

Occurrence: Occurs in ultrabasic igneous rocks.

Uses: Refractory with small contents of Fe and MgO.

Mica Group
The mica constitutes a well-defined group of silicates of aluminium with alkalis,
magnesium and ferrous iron. Micas are characterized by cleavage in one
direction. They all crystallize in the monoclinic system. The commonly
occurring micas, viz. muscovite and biotite are described below.

Composition: Silicate of aluminium and potassium with hydroxyl and fluorine,
KAl2(AiSi3)O10(OH, F)2.
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Common form: Six-sided tabular crystals.
Colour: Colourless with various tints: Chrome-bearing micas show bright green
Streak: Colourless.
Lustre: Vitreous.
Hardness: 2–3.
Cleavage: Perfect basal cleavage.
Fracture: Uneven.
Specific gravity: 2.7–3.0.
Diagnostic feature: Perfect cleavage.

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless to pale green.
Some varieties show feeble pleochroism.
Form: Subhedral.
Cleavage: Perfect, one-directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Colourless, basal cleavage.

Occurrence: Muscovite micas occur as original constituents of acid igneous

rocks, such as granites, granodiorites and pegmatites. Micas also occur in
sandstones as a detrital mineral.

Composition: Silicate of magnesium, iron, aluminium and potassium with
hydroxyl and fluorine. K(Mg, Fe)3 (AlSi3)O10(OHF)2.
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Common form: Six-sided prismatic crystal.
Colour: Brownish-green.
Cleavage: Perfect basal cleavage.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 4.
Specfic gravity: 2.8.
Lustre: Pearly, waxy.
Diagnostic features: Colour and basal cleavage.

Optical Properties
Colour: Yellowish-brown.
Pleochroism: Light brown to dark brown.
Form: Euhedral.
Cleavage: One-direction.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Biotite is distinguished by its plechroism, basal cleavage
and extinction angle.

Occurrence: Occurs in all igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Mode of Occurrence: Muscovite mica is found in pegmatites including mica
schist and hornblende schist. Mica pegmatites are found in various shapes and
sizes. They commonly occur in funnel, tabular and massive shapes. Muscovite
mica also occurs in igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks. Phlogopite mica
commonly occurs in association with pyroxenite. Biotite mica occurs in igneous
and metamorphic rocks as an accessory mineral.

India’s Mineral Resources: Mica pegmatite deposits are well distributed in our
country. Such deposits have been reported from 77 districts in 13 states.
However, commercial workable deposits are located in the three states of
Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Bihar mica belt: The Bihar mica belt extends for about 150 km and ranges from
20 to 55 km in width.
Workable mica mines are reported to be found in Hazaribagh, Giridih (now
in Jharkhand) and Nawadah districts.
Hazaribagh district: Debour, Telaiya, Dhorakoda, Domchanch Dhab, Jorasimar
and Koderma are active mining centres.
Giridih: Ganwan, Tisai.
Nawadah: Rajauli, Sabauyarand, Saphi and Charki.
Rajasthan mica belt: Rajasthan is the second largest mica-producing state after
Bihar. The Rajasthan mica belt extends 330 km from Udaipur to Jaipur with an
average width of about 90 km. Bhilwara district produces about 96 per cent of
the total production in the state.
Nellore mica belt: The Nellore mica belt of Andhra Pradesh is about 98 km long
with an average width of about 16 km. Most of the mines are located in Gudur.
Industrial Uses
(1) Mica is a natural insulator. It is a unique mineral. No substitutes can replace
the useful properties of mica.
(2) Mica is used in microwave attenuators for transmission and in tube
windows used in radio, radar and telecommunication.
(3) Mica is also used in thermal regulators, aeroplanes, submarines, ships, etc.
(4) Mica powders are used in mica bricks, steel plants, lubricants, as filler in
paints, rubber, plastic materials, wall papers, etc.

Feldspathoid Family
The minerals of this family resemble the feldspars in chemical composition.
They are quite numerous but only two are discussed here.
Leucite: KAlSi2O6.
Nepheline: NaAlSiO3.

Composition: Potassium aluminium silicate, KAlSi2O6.
Crystal system: Cubic.
Commmon form: Crystal.
Colour: Ash-grey.
Streak: Colourless.
Cleavage: Indistinct.
Fracture: Conchoidal, uneven.
Hardness: 5.5–6.0.
Specific gravity: 2.5.
Diagnostic feature: Crystalline nature with colour.
Occurrence: Volcanic rocks, phonolites.

Composition: NaAlSiO4.
Crystal system: Hexagonal.
Common form: Hexagonal.
Colour: Colourless.
Lustre: Vitreous.
Hardness: 5.5–6.0.
Specific gravity: 2.5–2.6.
Occurrence: Nepheline occurs in soda-rich igneous rocks.

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Hexagonal.
Cleavage: Imperfect.
Relief: Very low.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Resembles orthoclase but the latter has better cleavage.

Calcium does not occur in a free state in nature, however, its compounds are
abundantly available. The important carbonate minerals described here are
calcite and dolomite.

Composition: Calcium carbonate.
Crystal system: Hexagonal.
Colour: Colourless, varieties of colours.
Streak: White.
Lustre: Vitreous.
Fracture: Uneven, conchoidal.
Cleavage: Perfect.
Hardness: 3.
Specific gravity: 2.71.
Diagnostic feature: Calcite is distinguished based on its cleavage planes and

Occurrence: Occurs in sedimentary rocks, such as limestone and also as a

secondary mineral.
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Euhedral.
Cleavage: Perfect.
Relief: Low.
Extinction: Symmetrical.
India’s Mineral Resources: Rajasthan and Gujarat are the principal calcite
producing states. Small deposits are reported in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and
Madhya Pradesh.

Uses: Textile, rubber, paint industries, carrier of insecticide, glass and ceramic
industries. Transparent varieties are useful in optical accessories.

Composition: Carbonate of calcium and magnesium, CaCO3MgCO3.
Crystal system: Hexagonal.
Colour: White and varieties of colours.
Streak: White.
Luste: Vitreous.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 3.5–4.
Specific gravity: 2.8–2.9.
Diagnostic feature: Colour, lustre and hardness.

Occurrence: Dolomite is a common mineral. It occurs in sedimentary dolomite

rocks and limestones.

Optical Properties: Similar to calcite except for its euhedral shape.

India’s Mineral Resources: India has extensive and large deposits of dolomite
in many parts. Most of the deposits are situated in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh,
Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and West Bengal. In
Karnataka dolomites are predominantly redimentary in origin and occur
associated with carbonate rocks of different lithostratigraphic horizons namely
the Sargur complex, Kolar type green stone belts, the Dharwar supergroup and
the Kaladgi supergroup.

Uses: Refractories, flux in metallurgical applications, glass industry.

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Hexagonal crystal.
Cleavage: Imperfect.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Resembles orthoclase but the latter has a better cleavage.
Uses: Rock-forming minerals.

Accessory Minerals
Minerals which occur in small quantities are considered accessory minerals. The
salient features of each mineral are described here.

Composition: CaTiSiO5
Crystallizes in monoclinic system, occurs in small wedge shape.
Hardness: 5.
Specific gravity: 3.5.

Occurrence: Sphene occurs in granites, syenties and diorites.

Composition: Silicates of various divalent and trivalent matals.
Crystal system: Cubic.
Colour: Pale pink.
Hardness: 6.5–7.5.
Specfic gravity: 3.5–4.0.

Occurrence: Garnet occurs in metamorphic rocks. Garnet is reportedly found in

Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Rajasthan: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Jaipur, Sikar and Tonk.
Karnataka: Hassan, Kolar and Mysore districts.
Tamil Nadu: Salem and Tiruchirappalli.
Andhra Pradesh: Kondapalli in Krishna district.

Uses: Garnets are used as an abrasive material. They are used in the preparation
of garnet papers, clothes, etc.

Composition: ZrSiO4.
Cryst: Tetragonal.
Hardness: 7.5.
Specfic gravity: 4.7.

Occurrence: Granites and syenites.

India’s Mineral Resources: Large deposits of zircons are available in the beach
sands of Kerala and Tamil Nadu coasts.

Uses: Refractory bricks, abrasives, glass and aluminium.

Composition: Complex silicate of Na, Mg, Fe, Al with Si6O18.
Crystal system: Trigonal.
Colour: Black, grey, etc.
Hardness: 7.0.
Specific gravity: 3.0.

Occurrence: Granites and pegmatites.

Composition: Al2O3 SiO5.
Form: Blade-shape.
Colour: Blue
Lustre: Pearly.
Hardness: 4–7.
Specific gravity: 3.6–3.7.
Diagnostic feature: Kyanite is distinguished by its sharp bladed forms and

Occurrence: Kyanite occurs in high-grade metamorphic rocks.

India’s Mineral Resources: Kyanite is reported to be found mainly in Andhra

Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
However, Bihar and West Bengal produce large quantities of kyanite besides
Khammam and Prakasham districts in Andhra Pradesh.
Karnataka: Coorg district and Chickmagalur, Hassan, Kalekopa, Addagadde in
Sringeri taluka, Shimoga are rich in kyanite.

Illmenite: FeO, TiO2.
Rutile: TiO2.
Illmenite and rutile are the chief minerals of titanium.

Composition: Titanium Oxide, TiO2.
Crystal system: Tetragonal.
Colour: Reddish-brown or black.
Streak: Pale brown.
Lustre: Metallic.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 6–6.5.
Specific gravity: 4.2

Occurrence: Rutile occurs as an accessory mineral of igneous rocks, such as

diorites and granites.

Composition: Oxide of iron and titanium (FeOTiO2).
Crystal system: Hexagonal.
Colour: Iron-black.
Streak: Black.
Lustre: Sub metallic.
Fracture: Conchoidal.
Hardness: 5–6.
Specific gravity: 4.5–5.0.

Occurrence: Accessory minerals of basic igneous rocks, such as gabbro, norites,

India’s Mineral Resources: Beach sands of Maharashtra, Ratnagiri to Kerala.
West Coast: Tamil Nadu to Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
East Coast: Richest deposits are located about 22 km between Neendakara and
Kayankulam, Quilon district, Kerala.

Uses: Illmenite is a source for titanium pigments. Rutile is used as a coating

material in the manufacture of welding rods, etc.

Secondary Minerals
Minerals which are formed due to the alteration of preexisting minerals are
termed secondary minerals. A few minerals, e.g., chlorite, talc, serpentine, kaolin
and epidote are described here.

Composition: Hydrous silica of aluminium and magnesium (Mg, Fe)5 Al
(AiSi3)O10 (OH)8.
Crystal system: Monoclinic; common form, tabular crystals and granular
Colour: Shades of green.
Lustre: Greasy.
Softness: Slightly greasy feel.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 15–25.
Specific gravity: 2.65–2.95.
Diagnostic features: Light green colour, soft to touch and hardness.

Occurrence: Chlorite is a secondary mineral and formed due to the alteration of

mainly hornblende, biotite, etc.

Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless to green.
Form: Subhedral.
Pleochroism: Feebly pleochroic.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing features: Pleochroism. Relief and extinction are also the
distinguishing features.

Hydrous Magnesium Silicates

This secondary division mainly includes talc and serpentine.

Composition: Hydrous magnesium silicate, Mg3Si4O10(OH)2.
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Common form: Compact, granular-massive.
Colour: White-silver, whitish apple-green.
Cleavage: Basal.
Feel: Very soft to touch.
Hardness: Softest mineral in Moh’s scale. Scratched by a fingernail. H = 1
Specific gravity: 2.7–2.8.
Fracture: Uneven.
Diagnostic feature: Hardness, soft to touch and colour.

Occurrence: Talc occurs as a secondary mineral due to the hydration of

magnesium-bearing rocks, such as dolomite, gabbos, peridotites, etc.
Talc is commonly associated with magnesium-rich minerals. Some varieties
are also formed due to regional metamorphism.
Optical Properties
Colour: Colourless.
Form: Fibrous.
Cleavage: One-directional.
Relief: High.
Extinction: Parallel.
Distinguishing feature: Fibrous form and parallel extinction.

India’s Mineral Resources: Commercial talc deposits occur in Rajasthan,

Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Small deposits also occur in Bihar, Uttar
Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. Ninty per cent of India’s total
production comes from Rajasthan—Jaipur, Bhilwara and Udaipur districts.
Madhya Pradesh: Koda, Bhedaghat and Dhuandhar are important talcum
producing centres.
Maharashtra: Ratnagiri, Bhandara.
Andhra Pradesh: Talc is extracted from Anantapur, Chittoor, Kurnool and
Mehboobnagar districts.
Karnataka: Mysore, Hassan and Bellary districts produce small quantities.

Industrial Uses: Talc is used in the manufacture of paper, talc activates the
brightness of the paper. Pure talc is required in the paper industry.
Textile industries: Talc is used in the textile industry for bleaching of cotton
Rubber industry: Talc is used in the rubber industry for preventing rubber
mounds from sticking together and in the preparation of hard rubber.
Cosmetic industry: High quality talc is used in the preparation of talcum
powders. Talc is also used for ceramics, paints and plastics.

Composition: Mg6Si4O10(OH)8: Fe replaces Mg.
Crystal: Monoclinic.
Colour: Various shades.
Form: Uneven.
Streak: Colourless.
Cleavage: Indistinct.
Lustre: Greasy.
Feel: Slightly soapy.
Hardness: 3.4.
Specific gravity : 2.5–2.6.
Diagnostic feature: Soapy to touch and hardness.

Occurrence: Serpentine is mainly formed due to the alteration of olivine,

pyroxene or amphibole containing rocks.

KAOLIN (China clay)

Kaolin is also called china clay. Kaolin minerals do not swell with water and
have a good plasticity. Kaolin is mainly formed due to altering of feldspars by
the action of water and carbon dioxide.
Colour: White.
Form: Massive.
Hardness: 1.5.
Specific gravity: 2.6.
Diagnostic feature: Identified on the basis of colour and hardness.

Occurrence: Kaolin is formed mainly due to alteration of feldspars.

India’s Mineral Resources: Large deposits of commercial grade china are found
throughout the country. Important deposits are in Bihar, Kerala—Cannanore and
Trivandrum districts.
Orissa: Mayurbhanj district.
Gujarat: Sabarkantha district.
Andhra Pradesh: Adillabad, Anantapur, Cuddapah, Nellore, East and West
Karnataka: Kolar, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Tumkur, Bangalore,
Tamil Nadu: South Arcot, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, Tanjore districts.
Industrial Uses: China clay is used in the ceramic, textile, paper, rubber, paint
and cosmetics industries.

Composition: Basic silicate of calcium, aluminium and iron
Crystal system: Monoclinic.
Colour: Green.
Cleavage: Perfect.
Lustre: Vitreous.
Fracture: Uneven.
Hardness: 6–7.
Specific gravity: 3.5.
Diagnostic feature: Colour and cleavage.
Occurrence: Occurs in metamorphic rocks and also due to alteration of calcites,
plagioclase, etc.


The Mother Earth is the only planet in our solar system, which has land, ocean,
air and life (astrogeologists are probing to trace out similar earth like planet
within the solar system or outside the solar system). The earth has bestowed us
with enormous water, soil, forest, mineral resources. Geoscientists are interested
in temporal distribution of mineral or ore deposits.
Our country has seen spectacular progress through white revolution, green
revolution, computer revolution, education, medicine, space, power, atomic,
power and industrial revolution through copious supply of raw materials, i.e., the
minerals. Thus, there is tremendous development in the field of mining which is
the back bone of industry in India or for that matter anywhere in the world. The
prime contributory factors for the progress of any nation are the fields of
agriculture, forestry and mining. Of these three factors, the first two are ongoing
process and third is a finite process. Once we consume and exhaust the minerals,
it is not possible to recycle it over a long range of geological time. It requires
millions of years to recreate the mineral deposits in nature. That is why we have
to use them discretely keeping in mind our long range of requirements (Prakash,
The mineral or ore deposits which represent the most fractionated products
of androgenic processes are good reflection of their qualitative and quantitative
changes through geological time scale. The mineral deposits are the archives for
the evolution of lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, all subjects
of fundamental scientific importance. The signatures of such relationships
although are not direct pathfinders for discovery of mineral deposits themselves,
but will lead to improvement of conceptual models (Baldota, 2007).
Ores are genetically, extremely heterogeneous so the rate of their genesis
differs depending on the process involved in their formation. Most of the
geoscientists avoid this controversy by saying that the ore formation processes
are slow and that they proceeds in several stages. The discrepancies in the
calculations of the duration of ore formation mechanism are largest for magmatic
and hydrothermal deposits. According to current view pneumatolytic process is
slow and takes millions of years. The rate of formation of sedimentary ores, e.g,
Banded Iron Formation (BIF) is comparable to the rate of sedimentation
(Baldota, 2007).
As per the saying of Kautiliya, historical economist – ‘Mines are source of
Treasury’. The per capita consumption of mineral products is an index to the
development of any nation. Unfortunately, the consumption of mineral in India is
one of the lowest in the world. Since Independence, the mineral sector, received
attention from government in providing industrial base for self reliance. Value of
mineral production in 1947 was only Rs 58 crore which now stands around Rs
30,675 crore. Hitherto, we produce four mineral fuels, 11 metallic minerals, 52
non metallic minerals and 22 minor minerals. Our world ranking in some of the
minerals is commendable, we are third in barites, coal, lignite and chromite,
fourth in iron ore and sixth in bauxite and manganese ore. Even after these
achievements we are deficient in base metals, gold, diamond, tungsten, rock
phosphate petroleum, cooking coal, etc., (Baldota, 2007).
The mining sector has employed 1.1 million people. The total production of
the mineral sector in 2005–06 was 750 billion rupees. This amounts to 2.8 per
cent of the G.D.P. This contribution has come from 2,326 private and 293 public
sector mines. The amount of minerals exported was 693 billion rupees. During
the same period, minerals worth 1,827 billion rupees were imported. Although
90 minerals are produced in India which include four fuel minerals, 10 metallic
minerals, 50 non metallic minerals, three atomic minerals and 21 minor
minerals. Nearly 80 per cent of the mineral output accounts for coal production
and the rest accounts for other minerals (Prakash, 2007).
Table 3.7. Recoverable reserves of important minerals in India as on 01-04-1995 (Qty in tonnes)
Source: Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
According to an estimate, by 2015, the internal demand for minerals is
likely to double and accordingly the necessary steps have to be taken now itself.
There is a possibility of the GDP to grow up to 6 per cent. In 1947 it was just 58
crore rupees and today it is Rs 75,121.61 crore (2005–06) which is nearly 1300
times increase in production. The main reasons for this spectacular achievement
is the availability of natural resources and their identification at the outset of
availability of educated manpower and skilled labour force and growth of the
private sector. Thus, the projection for 2015 can be achieved if the government
encourages the mining sector (Prakash, 2007).
Table 3.8. Mineral production in India during 2000–01 (Qty in tonnes)
Source: Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
Table 3.9. Statewise distribution of important mineral based industries in India

Source: (IBM records 2001)

The modern civilization is largely dependent on the use of minerals. In fact,
there is scarcely anything that we use today that is not related to minerals. These
aspects apart, the mineral resources that we possess have become synonymous
with the industrial growth and in turn, dependent upon ownership of or access to
large quantities of mineral resources. In near future there would be such great
demand for minerals by the industrialized nations that the mineral resources are
likely to be depleted to the zero level.
The twenty-first century is going to be a period of high rate of development
of science, information technology, space technology and mineral search and for
the earth scientists a period of demanding exploration of non-conventional
mineral resources (Varma, 2003).
In view of the importance of minerals in the development of country, a brief
description of mineral resources of India and their production along with the
state-wise distribution of mineral based industries are given in Tables 3.7–3.9


Development of mineral-based industries and cost of production of industrial
goods therefrom is often considered as an index of industrialization of the
country as these industries are the forerunners of several manufacturing and
processing industries. The prosperity and well-being of a state depends to a large
extent on how it utilizes its natural resources, especially its land, water and
minerals. Tamil Nadu for its size, is endowed with many workable mineral
deposits: graphite (25 per cent), magnesite (77 per cent), bauxite (3 per cent),
feldspars (5 per cent), fireclay (8 per cent), quartz (6 per cent), limestone (8 per
cent), lignite (78 per cent), gypsum, barite, heavy placer minerals, etc. The
percentages in brackets indicate state mineral share in comparison to the Indian
production. In addition, a number of commercial ornamental rock deposits have
been mainly located in Dharampuri, Salem, South and North Arcot districts.
Tamil Nadu has Archaean rock formations. These are considered to be hard
crystalline rock formations covering the entire state. Marine and sedimentary
formations belonging to the Cretaceous and Tertiary are also found. Minerals of
different age and origin are found deposited in all these formations. A brief note
of the mineral resources in Tamil Nadu is presented below (Anon, 1983).

▆ Lignite
Lignite is called ‘brown coal’. It contains 20–45 per cent water. Lignite breaks
down into smaller pieces on drying. If kept in the open, it might catch fire when
it comes in contact with free oxygen. Calorific value of lignite ranges from
6000–7600 BTU.
Lignite, the ‘brown coal’, is a solid fuel resource available in Tamil Nadu
and Pondicherry. It occurs at two major stratigraphic levels, viz., Eocene and
Oligo-Miocene. Lignite was first discovered at Neyveli, South Arcot district in
1930. Recent studies in the Cauvery basin have brought to light the occurrence
of lignite within the Oligo-Miocene sediments in the area (Kumaraguru et al.,
2000). These lignite beds were formed in the near shore environment where
vegetation grew and got preserved in the intradistributory swamps. These areas
further experienced repeated transgressive and regressive phases that caused
changes in the coastline and depositional areas resulting in different lignite
occurrences both in space and time (Acharyya, 2000).
As per the memoir year data of GSI, the total lignite reserves in Tamil Nadu
and Pondicherry are about 26,154 million tonnes. Major lignite deposits are
located at Neyveli, Shrimushnam, Lalpettai, Mannargudi, Bahur (Hariharan and
Prabhakar). As per the Coal Director of India, the total production of lignite
from Neyveli area in 1997–98 was about 18 million tonnes. Total production of
lignite in the country is recorded at about 23 million tonnes out of which 18
million tonnes were raised from the Neyveli area of Tamil Nadu alone. Lignite is
being successfully utilized in power generation and other sectors, like
carbonization, briquette making, fertilizers and chemical industries. The future
projection looks for an augmented production of about 30 million tonnes at
Neyveli in the next 25 years (Acharyya, 2000).

▆ Magnesite
Magnesite is the carbonate of magnesium (MgCO3) and used as a raw material
for extracting magnesium compounds. Magnesite is extensively utilized as a
refractory in metallurgical industry. In addition, magnesite is used in chemicals,
textile, rubber, glass, ceramic and pharmaceutical industries (Epsom salt,
magnesia). The largest workable deposits of magnesite in our country occur in
the Salem district of Tamil Nadu. Magnesite occurs in a series of low hillocks,
known as Chalk Hills situated about 6 km north of Salem town. Small
occurrence of magnesite is also located around Siranganur, Sirappalli,
Chettipatti, Valaiyapatti, Kanjanu and Nadandai. As per the IBM mineral
yearbook, 1999, the total recoverable magnesite reserves of India are about
24,51,41,000 tonnes, in which Uttaranchal’s share is (76 per cent) and that of
Tamil Nadu is (20 per cent). India’s magnesite production is about 3,17,255
tonnes, in which Tamil Nadu production share is (77 per cent), Uttaranchal (15
per cent) and Karnataka (8 per cent).

▆ Graphite
Graphite is the crystalline variety of carbon and has the same chemical
composition as diamond and occurs in crystalline and amorphous forms. Good
quality graphite is extensively used in bearings; as lubricants, break-linings,
carbon brushes, electrodes and graphite crucibles. Low quality graphite is used
in foundry, paint and pencil industries.
Good quality workable grade graphite is available in Sivaganga in
Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu. As per IBM records, 2001, total
recoverable reserves of magnesite are estimated at about 45,79,000 tonnes, in
which recoverable reserves share of Tamil Nadu is about 7 per cent. Total Indian
production of graphite is about 1,35,036 tonnes, in which Tamil Nadu’s
contribution is 25 per cent.
Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN), Government of Tamil Nadu, is
presently operating a graphite beneficiation plant located 10 km away from
Sivaganga-Melur road, about 60 km from Madurai. The plant is capable of
treating 200 tonnes of run of mine with 14.2 per cent fixed carbon to produce 28
tonnes of concentrate with 96 per cent fixed carbon per day (Ravichandran,

▆ Fireclay and Ceramic Raw Materials

Large reserves of refractory clays occur in sedimentary formations along the
eastern Tamil Nadu coast. Good deposits of kaolinitic clays are found in the
South Arcot, North Arcot, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Podukkottai districts.
Clays of Gondwana formations are found in Chingleput district and are being
utilized in the form of fillers and in the insecticide and fertilizer industries.
Ceramic clays are extensively utilized in ceramic industry, stoneware and
refractories, etc.
Fireclay does not easily melt in fire. It is deficient in iron oxide, magnesia,
alkali and lime and withstands high temperature. Good quality fireclays
withstand up to 1600°C without melting. Fireclays are used in making heat
resistant bricks, heat resistant retorts and crucibles. Low quality fireclays are
utilized in the preperation of pots, bathtubs, pipes and other sanitary wares.
Fireclays are distributed in Chingleput, South Arcot and Tiruchrapalli districts.
Tamil Nadu produces 8 per cent of the total production of fireclay in India. Total
production of fireclay in India during 2000–2001 was about 3,47,869 tonnes
(IBM, monthly statistics, 2001).

▆ Limestone
Limestone is a rock containing at least 50 per cent calcium carbonate. Limestone
includes any calcareous rock, chalk, marble, marine shell, coral, marl, etc.
Limestone is the principal raw material for cement industry, metallurgical
industry, iron and steel industry, paper and sugar industry, construction industry
(as lime, extracted by burning limestone to eliminate carbon dioxide finds use as
mortar and plaster in building constructions). Lime is also used in chemical and
fertilizer industries.
Limestone is one of the important industrial minerals available in the state
in crystalline and sedimentary forms. Sea shells, coral reefs, kankar and
calcareous tufa occur in a large scale in all parts of the state. Large deposits of
limestone are found in parts of Tirunelveli, Ramanathpuram, Salem,
Tiruchirapalli, Madurai and Coimbatore districts. Crystalline limestone varieties
are reported from Ambasamudram, Kovillapatti and Sankarankovil talukas in
Tirunelveli district. In Salem district, good quality crystalline limestone is found
in Tiruchengode, Sankaridurug and Namakkal talukas (IBM records, 1990).
The total reserves of the state are about 600 million tonnes. The total Indian
production of limestone of all grades is about 12,60,70,000 tonnes, in which the
share of Tamil Nadu is 8 per cent (IBM monthly statistics, 2001).

▆ Bauxite
Bauxite is the principal source of aluminium. Aluminium is used in the electrical
and chemical industry as refractory, abrasive material in automobile, aircraft and
other industries. Bauxite with a high iron content is suitable for abrasives and
with a low iron content is suitable for extraction of aluminium and the latter
occurs as capping in Yarcaud taluka, Salem district. In Palni hills, Salem district,
the Geological Survey of India first discovered bauxite in the year 1902. The
bauxite of this region contains a moderate amount of silica, which is easily
separated to make it suitable for the extraction of aluminium. Good quality
bauxite deposits have been found on the top of hills of Udagamandalam,
Kotagiri and Cunoor. However these bauxites are ferruginous. The bauxite
deposits of Shevaroi and Palni hills are utilized for the manufacture of
aluminium metal, refractories, abrasives and cement. The total reserves of Tamil
Nadu are estimated at around 15 million tonnes. The total bauxite production of
India is about 78,93,110 tonnes. Tamil Nadu’s share in this is 3 per cent.

▆ Gypsum
Gypsum is a hydrated calcium sulphate and commonly occurs as an evaporite in
the form of lenses and beds associated with limestone and shale. It is associated
with cretaceous formations formed as evaporites from ancient seas and alluvial
origins associated with black cotton soil. Gypsum deposits are mined in the
districts of Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli
districts. The total reserves in these districts have been estimated at about16
million tonnes. Gypsum is also recovered as a by-product from salt pans located
in the state. It is mainly utilized in the cement industry in the Tamil Nadu and
neighbouring states (Anon, 1983).

▆ Heavy Mineral Placers

Systematic seabed mapping by the Marine Wing, Geological Survey of India has
revealed the presence of several non-living resources within the Territorial
Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, i.e., the area covered within 200
nautical miles from the shore) has also revealed the presence of several non-
living resources. Tamil Nadu has fairly large reserves of beach placer sands
comprising illmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, sillimanite, garnet, etc. The largest
deposits of heavy placer minerals are located in the western coastal tract of
Tamil Nadu, near Manavalakurichi. Small heavy placer garnet mineral deposits
occur in parts of Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Ramanathapuram districts (Anon

▆ Other Minerals

Mica Deposits
The other mineral deposits, such as muscovite mica occur in pegmatite in the
Nilgiris, vermiculite mica near Sevathur in North Arcot district. Old mica pits
are found at Kurumbapatti, Karaiyanur, Pallipatti, Alachaimpalaiyam,
Anaikuttithottam, Uraichikaradu, Kadavur and Mungilmelia in Tiruchirapalli
district and Agamalaipatti and Vattalagundu in the Madurai district.
Other mineral deposits, such as steatite deposits are found in North Arcot
and Salem districts of the state. Similarly, sillimanite deposits are found in small
quantities near Keeranur in Tiruchirapalli district of the state.

Semiprecious Gemstones
Gemstones, such as rose quartz are found in Madurai district, ruby, sapphire and
chrysoberyl are found in Kanyakumari and Periyar district, moonstone,
amethyst, aquamarine, bronzite, diopside, etc., are found in Salem and Periyar
district of the state (IBM records and Anon, 1983).

Decorative/Ornamental/Dimensional Stones
A detailed note of the ornamental/decorative rock deposits of India is included as
a case study in Chapter 5 (Petrology). Location of important
decorative/ornamental rock deposits of the entire country is shown in the map of
dimensional stone granite belts. In addition, a detailed description with
illustrative examples on the selection criteria for quality ornamental/decorative
rock deposits is also included in Chapter 5. Decorative and dimensional stones
are among the latest and best foreign exchange earners of our country. If jewels
and diamonds are for a select few, the ornamental/decorative stones are for many
to see and appreciate (Venkat Reddy, 1996). Tamil Nadu produces ornamental
granite varieties, such as (trade names of decorative stones) Kashmir White,
Tiger Skin, Raw Silk, Paradiso, Pink, Multiple, Red Mond, Hosur Grey,
Rasipuram Blue, Colombo Juparana, Sea Green, Turaiyur Blue, Rosa Verde,
Kunam Black, Vanjinagaram Pink, which have a good demand in the
international market. As per GSI estimates, multicoloured commercial rock
deposit reserve is about 17.39 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) and black granites
are about 1.60 MCM. Black granites (dolerite, gabbro, norite, pyroxenite, etc.)
mainly occur in Chingleput, Dharmapuri, Coimbatore, Salem and South Arcot


Descriptive Questions
1. What is a crystal? Describe the different parts of a crystal and their relationship. Discuss the
importance of crystallography.
2. What is the symmetry of a crystal? Discuss the criteria for the determination of symmetry.
3. What are crystals? How can they be classified broadly? Describe each system with examples of
minerals crystallized in the respective systems.
4. Write notes on:
(a) Plane of symmetry
(b) Axes of symmetry
(c) Centre of symmetry
(d) Crystallographic axes
5. What is a mineral? How mineral deposits are classified? Add a note on economic mineral
6. Define mineral. Describe in detail the physical properties of minerals with typical examples.
Add a note on the importance of industrial minerals.
7. How are minerals identified in the field /in the laboratory? What are the standard methods for
identification of minerals? Add a note on the economic significance of minerals.
8. Write notes on:
(a) Moh’s Scale of hardness
(b) Streak of minerals
(c) Forms and habitat of typical minerals
(d) Cleavage and fracture
(e) Lustre of minerals
(f) Extinction
(g) Double refraction
9. How minerals are identified under petrological microscope? Discuss the importance of the
petrological microscope in identification of minerals. Add a note on optical properties of
quartz mineral.
10. What are secondary minerals? How are they formed? Add a note on their significance in rocks.
11. Describe in detail the physical properties, chemical composition, mode of formation, geological,
geographical distribution, economic and mining significance of the following mineral
(a) Quartz
(b) Muscovite mica
(c) Carbonate minerals
(d) Feldspars
12. Compare and contrast the physical properties, chemical composition, mode of formation and
uses of the following minerals:
(a) Quartz and Calcite
(b) Orthoclase and Nepheline
(c) Augite and Hornblende
(d) Olivine and Epidote

Supplementary Questions
13. Crystallography is directly related to
(a) Physical geology
(b) Mineralogy
(c) Petrology
(d) Structural geology
14. Crystal system is identified on the basis of
(a) Total faces of crystals
(b) General symbol of the crystal
(c) Axial ratio
(d) Total symmetry elements
15. Crystal type can be identified by studying the
(a) Symmetry elements
(b) General symbol
(c) Axial ratio
(d) All the above
16. Crystal structure depends on the
(a) Depth of crystallization
(b) Rate of crystallization
(c) Internal arrangement of the atoms
(d) Temperature and pressure of the magma during crystallization
17. Which is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust?
18. How can quartz be distinguished from calcite and barite?
19. How can we distinguish between cleavage and fracture of mineral?
20. What is steatite?
21. Which state in India supplies two-thirds of the country’s requirement for glass sand?
22. What is the other name for kaolin?
23. What are the causes of colouration in quartz minerals?
24. Steatite is an impure variety of
(a) Gypsum
(b) Talc
(c) Barite
(d) Asbestos
25. Calcite is a mineral of
(a) Sodium carbonate
(b) Calcium carbonate
(c) Potassium carbonate
(d) Magnesium carbonate
26. Hardness of quartz mineral is
(a) Seven
(b) Six
(c) Nine
(d) Eight
27. High specific gravity non-metallic mineral is
(a) Calcite
(b) Quartz
(c) Barite
(d) Galena
28. Amethyst is a
(a) Pink coloured quartz
(b) Violet coloured quartz
(c) Yellow coloured quartz
(d) White quartz
29. Quartz minerals generally have
(a) Silky lustre
(b) Pearly lustre
(c) Vitreous lustre
(d) Adamantine lustre
Chapter 4

Learning Objectives

➠ major rock types

➠ details of igneous rocks
➠ details of sedimentary rocks
➠ details of metamorphic rocks
➠ decorative/dimensional stones of India
➠ selection criteria for decorative/dimensional stones

Petrology is the study of the origin and characteristics of rocks. It is derived
from the Greek words Petra meaning rock and logos discourse. It occupies a
central position in geology and includes both petrography and petrogenesis.
Petrography deals with the descriptive study of the chemical, mineralogical and
textural characters of rocks. Rocks are the natural aggregates of minerals and
reveal the geological events of our mother earth. Rocks of other planets also
decipher the secrets of their geological evolution. Space scientists have collected
various rock samples from the moon and Mars. Detailed petrographical studies
are explained as the unknown geological and biological truths of these planets.
Most evolutionary biologists believe that living matter evolved from non-living
matter, in a reducing atmosphere because primitive cells were believed to have
been defenceless against oxidation (Ehlers, 1982). In engineering geology it is
essential to distinguish between rock or soil material and the rock or soil mass.
Most civil engineering works are directly associated with the rocks. Mineral
deposits are associated with rocks and so it is important to understand the
petrological characters of minerals for their exploration and exploitation.
Therefore, it is necessary to study petrology and its applications in civil and
mining engineering works.


Rocks are naturally occurring aggregates of minerals and mineraloids (such as
glass, coal, opal, etc.) and most rocks consist of polyminerals. Rocks are broadly
classified into three major groups: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. In
most cases rocks are identified in the field on the basis of the physical properties
of the constituent minerals.

▆ Igneous Rocks
A rock that has solidified from molten lava or magma is called an igneous rock.
However, rocks formed by the consolidation of molten magma are said to be
primary rocks. These rocks are formed when volcanic lava solidifies. Generally,
igneous rocks are massive in form. It is supposed that these rocks are the oldest
ones formed on the earth’s crust.
Examples: Granite, gabbro, dunite are formed by the consolidation of magma.
Basalt and trachyte are formed due to the solidification of lava.

▆ Sedimentary Rocks
Sedimentary rocks are formed by the consolidation of loose sediments or
chemical precipitation from the solution at or near the earth’s surface.
Sedimentary rocks are also called layered rocks because weathered
sediments are transported and deposited on the oceanic floor in the form of
layers. During the geological process, these layers are made compact,
consolidated and uplifted to form layered rocks. These rocks show sedimentary
features, such as ripple marks, stratification, cross-bedding, fossils (in some
rocks), etc.
Examples: Sandstones, limestones, shales.

▆ Metamorphic Rocks
Metamorphic rocks are preexisting rocks formed by mineralogical, chemical or
structural changes especially in the solid state, in response to marked changes in
temperature, pressure and chemical environment at depths in the earth’s crust,
that is below the zones of weathering and cementation.
The rocks subjected to metamorphism lose their original characteristics and
new features are added. For instance, granite, an igneous rock is metamorphosed
to form gneiss, whereas, a sedimentary rock, limestone, is metamorphosed to
form marble. In weathering conditions, these metamorphic rocks again form
sedimentary rocks.
Based on the worldwide geological map statistics of the abundance of rocks
established on the surface of the earth, igneous and metamorphic rocks occupy
34 per cent and sedimentary rocks 66 per cent. However, large parts of the
continents are mapped as undifferentiated igneous and metamorphic rocks.
Hence, the exact percentage of igneous and metamorphic rocks cannot be


Field observations of igneous rocks are very important for the determination of
the structure and extent of exposed outcrops. One of the important aspects to be
determined is whether the igneous rock is formed at ground or below the ground
level. Geological maps and satellite imageries are useful for the determination of
the mode of occurrence of rocks in the field. Differential weathering results due
to topographic elevation, drainage pattern and weathering agents. Large-scale
igneous bodies are identified based on satellite imagery techniques. In civil
engineering constructions, particularly for large structures, the extent and
occurrence of igneous rocks must be known. In such conditions, the form and
occurrence of igneous bodies are helpful to the civil engineer.
Igneous rocks are formed in two major types: intrusives and extrusives.
They are grouped depending on the availability of magma or lava and according
to their size. General grouping of igneous rocks according to their mode of
formation and rock texture is shown in Table 4.1.
Table 4.1. Types of Igneous Rock Forms

▆ Extrusives
Extrusive rocks are of a wide variety, depending on the nature and amount of
erupted material and its association with the country rock.
A volcano is considered as a conduit between the earth’s surface and the
body of magma, the crust beneath it. During volcanic eruption, lava is extruded
from the volcanic vent and gases contained in the lava are ejected through it.
Depending on the type of eruption, lava flows are divided into two groups: (a)
fissure eruption (b) central eruption.

Fissure Eruption
Lava flows slowly along the cracks or fissures in the earth’s surface along with a
certain amount of gases. This lava is basic in composition with a low viscosity
and spreads over large areas (Fig. 4.1).

Fig. 4.1. Fissure eruption

Central Eruption
Volcanic lava erupts through a volcanic crater. Volatile lava, associated rocks and
gases erupt through these cones. Most of these volcanoes are dormant with only
a few active volcanic craters. (Fig. 4.2).

Fig. 4.2. Central eruption

Pyroclastic Rocks
The deposit formed by the consolidation of ejected fragmental material is termed
as pyroclastic rocks.
▆ Intrusives (Minor)

Sills are relatively thin tabular bodies of magma which essentially penetrate
parallel to the bedding planes of foliations of the country rocks. Sills are
typically thin and shallow and are mainly located on unfolded country rocks.
They are mostly basaltic in composition. A high degree of fluidity is essential to
produce a sheet-like form. Sills are grouped into two types based on their
ejection. Simple sills are those which are formed due to a single ejection (Fig.
4.3). Multiple sills are formed as a result of more than one ejection (Fig. 4.4).

Fig. 4.3. Simple sill

Fig. 4.4. Multiple sill

A laccolith is an intrusion with a flat floor and domed roof, the roof having been
arched by the pressure from magma. High viscosity magma does not spread over
but tends to form a bun shape (Fig. 4.5). Laccolith intrusions range in diameter
from about 1 to 8 m with a maximum thickness of the order of 1000 m. Most
laccoliths are silicic or intermediate in composition.
Fig. 4.5. Laccolith

According to Grout’s description, a lopolith consists of a large, lenticular,
centrally sunken, concordant basin or funnel-shaped intrusive mass (Fig. 4.6).
Lopoliths are generally mafic to ultramafic in composition. They vary in
diameter from tens to thousands of kilometres, with a thickness up to thousands
of metres.

Fig. 4.6. Lopolith

Phacoliths are intrusive concordant bodies mainly associated with folded rocks
(Fig. 4.7). When they occur in a syncline, they are doubly convex downwards;
when occurring within an anticline they are doubly convex upwards.
Dykes are the intrusion of magma into vertical fissures which cut across the
bedding of the country rock (Fig. 4.8). Many dykes are more resistant than the
surrounding rocks. Dykes vary in size from a few metres to a few hundred
metres and extend from a few metres to a few hundred kilometres. However, the
majority of dykes are only several metres in thickness.

Fig. 4.7. Phacolith

Fig. 4.8. Simple dyke

▆ Intrusives (Major)
The term ‘pluton’ is used to denote a moderately large body of magma which is
intruded essentially at one time and is contained within a single boundary.
Plutons may vary in shape but are generally circular. On an average a pluton is
about 150 square kilometres but many are larger. Batholiths are commonly
composed of silicon rocks. According to Daly (1914) batholiths are
characterised by the following features:

Fig. 4.9. Batholith

(1) They are located in mountain-making zones.

(2) They are elongated parallel to the tectonic axes of the folded belts.
(3) Their intrusion follows closely an antecedent period of mountain building
(Fig. 4.9).
R.A. Daly (1914) introduced the term ‘stock’ to denote a vertical, nearly
cylindrical body of igneous rock cutting across the rock into which it is intruded,
with a cross-sectional area up to 100 km2.

▆ Textures of Igneous Rocks

Texture is defined as the intimate mutual relation between mineral constituents
and glassy matter in a rock made up of a uniform aggregate.
Texture reveals the petrogenesis of rocks. A study of the textural characters
of rocks provides valuable information about petrochemistry, cooling and
solidification conditions.
A description of texture depends on (a) crystallinity (b) granularity (c)
shape of the minerals (d) mutual relations of mineral grains.

This is measured by the ratio between crystallized and non-crystallized mineral
matter. Rocks are generally grouped into three types of crystallinity.
(a) Holocrystalline: A rock composed of mostly crystals is called
holocrystalline [Fig. 4.10 (a)].
(b) Holohyaline: A rock composed of completely glassy matter is termed
holohyaline [Fig. 4.10 (b)].
(c) Hemicrystalline: A rock composed partly of crystals and partly of glass is
termed hemicrystalline [Fig. 4.10(c)].

Fig. 4.10. Crystallinity (a) Holocrystalline (b) Holohyaline (c) Hemicrystalline

In igneous rocks, mineral grains are identified by their size, shape and
granularity. However, not all minerals are visible to the naked eyes. The
following terms are generally used.
(a) Phaneric: Individual mineral grains can be distinguished with the naked
(b) Aphanitic: Granular minerals are visible but individual minerals cannot be
(c) Glassy: Entirely glassy crystals: minerals are not identifiable with the naked
Size: Mineral grain size is dependent on the rate of cooling and viscosity of the
magma. The mineral grain sizes are relatively bigger in plutonic rocks than in
volcanic rocks. Grain size is generally assessed as follows:
(1) Coarse grain — more than 2 mm
(2) Medium grain — 2 to 0.06 mm
(3) Fine grain — less than 0.06 mm

The pattern or fabric of a rock depends on the shape as well as relative size and
arrangement of the minerals. The shape of the mineral grains in igneous rocks
may be broadly grouped into three types:
(a) Euhedral: Minerals are developed equally in size and shape and are
completely bound with faces (Fig. 4.11).

Fig. 4.11. Euhedral

(b) Subhedral: Minerals are developed partially or to an intermediate state (Fig.


Fig. 4.12. Subhedral

(c) Anhedral: Minerals develop irregular shapes because their growth is
controlled by neighbouring materials (Fig. 4.13).

Fig. 4.13. Anhedral

Mutual Relations of Mineral Grains

The fabric of a rock is influenced by the shape of the mineral grains, their
relative size and mutual arrangements amongst them. Texture is mainly
dependent on the mutual relations of the mineral grains. Textures are broadly
classified into four types: (a) equigranular (b) inequigranular (c) directive (d)
intergrowth texture.

Equigranular Texture: Equigranular texures are those in which mineral

constituents are more or less developed to the same size. In megascopic
examination, mineral grains show equal grain size. However, in microscopic
examination equigranular minerals are grouped into three types:
(a) Panidiomorphic Texture: Most mineral grains are more or less euhedral in
shape (Fig. 4.14). For example, lamprophyres.

Fig. 4.14. Panidiomorphic texture, e.g., lamprophyre

(b) Hypidiomorphic or granitic: If the mineral grains are subhedral in size, the
texture is termed hypidiomorphic (Fig. 4.15). This texture is very common
in acid igneous rocks, such as granites and syenites. In some instances this
texture is also called granite texture.

Fig. 4.15. Hypidiomorphic texture, e.g., granite

(c) Allotriomorphic: If most of the minerals are irregular in size and shape, the
texture is termed allotriomorphic (Fig. 4.16). Such textures are common in

Fig. 4.16. Allotriomorphic texture, e.g., basalt

Inequigranular Texture: The difference in size of mineral grains results in the

formation of inequigranular texture. This is due to the discontinuous changes in
the physiochemical conditions.
Inequigranular textures are grouped into three types: (a) porphyritic (b)
poikilitic (c) ophitic.
(a) Porphyritic: When a large crystal or phenocryst is surrounded by ground
mass, the texture is termed porphyritic (Fig. 4.17). This texture mainly
appears in volcanic and hypabyssal rocks. However, some granites also
show porphyritic texture. This texture is caused by a discontinuous change
in the physiochemical conditions during crystallization of the magnetic
melt. Large mineral grains are formed at depths where conditions of high
pressure and temperature exist. However, enclosing rock magma
transformed to a higher level results in rapid cooling thereby forming the
ground mass.

Fig. 4.17. Porphyritic texture, e.g., basalt

Fig. 4.18. Poikilitic texture

(b) Poikilitic: When the ground mass is surrounded by a phenocryst, the texture
is termed poikilitic (Fig. 4.18). Its formation is too complex in nature to
explain. Crystallization of the melt takes place in the metastable phase of
cooling. A poikilitic texture is commonly exhibited by syenites and
(c) Ophitic: This is a special case of poikilitic texture. When an augite mineral
encloses numerous plagioclases, it is referred to as ophitic texture. This
texture is commonly exhibited by dolerites (Fig. 4.19).
Fig. 4.19. Ophitic texture

Directive Texture: Directive textures are formed due to the flow of magma
during crystallization. Feldspathic lava flow results in the formation of trachytes,
phonolites and andesites. Such a texture is called trachytic (Fig. 4.20). Whenever
laths are interwoven with glass, that texture is called hyalopilitic.

Intergrowth Texture: Intergrowth texture is mainly formed due to simultaneous

crystallization of two minerals more or less in equal proportions. Intergrowth of
two minerals generally results in the formation of a peculiar texture. The most
common intergrowth is between quartz and feldspars. This typical texture is
known as ‘graphic texture’ and is found in siliceous igneous rock, particularly
granites, granite pegmatite and granophyres.

Fig. 4.20. Trachytic texture, e.g., trachyte

▆ Classification of Igneous Rocks

Igneous rocks have been named on the basis of mineral content, chemistry,
texture of locality. Most igneous rocks contain a few minerals in large amounts
and a variety of minerals in small amounts. However, the classification of
igneous rocks depends on various factors. They are (a) mode of genesis and
occurrence (b) silica percentage (c) CIPW classification (d) tabular

Mode of Genesis and Occurrence

Igneous rocks are broadly classified on the basis of their formation in nature and
comprise three broad groups: (a) plutonic rocks (b) hypabyssal rocks (c)
volcanic rocks.

Plutonic rocks: Rocks which are formed in the deeper zones of the earth are
called plutonic rocks. The term ‘pluton’ means greater depth. They are also
known as abyssal or deep-seated rocks. These rocks were subjected to the
slowest rate of cooling, which resulted in their coarse granular texture. Stocks,
bosses and batholiths were so formed.
Hypabyssal rocks: Igneous rocks formed at shallow depths, such as dykes,
laccoliths and lopoliths are called hypabyssal rocks. These rocks exhibit medium
grain or porphyritic textures.

Volcanic rocks: Rocks which are formed at the surface of the earth due to the
cooling of molten rock material are called volcanic rocks. They exhibit volcanic,
vesicular, glassy, flow structure/texture. They also form pillow structures.

Silica Percentage
Shand (1913) and Holmes (1917–21) classified rocks into three groups on the
basis of free silica, i.e., on the basis of silica percentage: (a) oversaturated rocks
(b) saturated rocks (c) unsaturated rocks.

Oversaturated rocks: These contain more than 66 per cent free silica. Such
rocks are also known as acidic rocks.

Saturated rocks: Rocks which consist of 52–66 per cent silica are called
saturated or intermediate rocks.

Unsaturated rocks: Rocks which consist of less than 52 per cent silica are called
unsaturated rocks. These rocks are again subdivided into two groups: basic and
ultrabasic. Rocks which contain 45 to 52 per cent silica are called basic rocks.
Rocks with less that 45 per cent silica are termed ultrabasic. Blyth and Freitas
(1974) grouped the Shand and Holmes classification into a tabular form (Table
CIPW Classification
In 1903, four American petrologists—Cross, Iddings, Prisson and Washington
developed classification on the basis of chemical analysis of rocks.
The rock ‘norm’ is the resultant calculated after the mineralogical analysis
of the rock, as contrasted to the actual mineralogy, which is ‘mode’. The details
of norm classification are given by Johannsen (1931) in Volume I, Descriptive
Petrography of Igneous Rocks.
However, certain amphiboles, pyroxenes and micas were not included in the
norm because of their particular chemical composition. Their components were
distributed between the norm minerals. The norm was divided into ‘salic’ and
‘ferric’ group, the important constituents of which are given in the adjacent table.
Salic minerals Ferric minerals
Quartz Diopside
Qrthoclase Hypersthene
Albite Olivine
Anorthite Acmite
Leucite Magnetite
Nepheline Hematite
Corundum Apatite

But this classification was found to be inconvenient as it involved a detailed

chemical analysis and was time consuming and expensive.

Tabular Classification
The tabular classification of igneous rock is presented in Table 4.3.
Table 4.2. Classification of Igenous rocks on the basis of Silica percentage (after Blyth and Freitas, 1974)
Classification of Igneous rocks (excluding alkaline rocks)
M = Micas, A = Amphiboles, P = Pyroxenes,
O = Olivine, Solid black = Opaque minerals

Table 4.3. Tabular Classification of Igenous Rocks

Source: Geology Section, Dept of Civil Engineering, NITK.

▆ Description of Some Important Igneous Rocks

Granite is a plutonic igneous rock. The word granite is derived from the Latin
word Granum, meaning a grain and refers to the texture of the rock. Granite is a
structural stone par excellence among the igneous rocks because of its good
appearance, hardness, resistance to weathering, and strength under compression.
Mineral composition: Quartz and feldspar are the essential minerals. The
percentage of quartz may vary from 20 to 40 per cent of the rock and feldspar up
to 60 per cent (accessory mineral may include biotite mica, muscovite mica,
hornblende, augite, tourmaline, garnet, sphene, zircon, etc.). In granite, a high
percentage of silica is present. It belongs to the oversaturated potash-feldspar
group. Commonly, orthoclase, albite and oligoclase are constituents in granites.
In some types microcline also occurs. Other minerals, such as muscovite mica,
biotite mica and hornblende occur in less proportions. Accessory minerals,
mainly oxides of iron, garnet, tourmaline, zircon and apatite may be present in
some granites. Granite belongs to the oversaturated rock group. Its total
percentage of silica is generally more than 60 per cent.
Volcanic and hypabyssal equivalents: Rhyolite volcanic rock and felsites-
hypabyssal rocks are equivalent to granite.
Texture: In hand specimens, minerals of granite are identified by the eye.
Granites are generally coarse to medium-grained but in some varieties fine-
grained texture is also observed. Mineral grains generally exhibit a subhedral
form. Under the microscope, granites show a hypidiomorphic or granite texture
but again, some show a porphyritic texture.
Those granites which show a graphic texture are termed graphic granites.
The graphic texture is due to the intergrowth of quartz and feldspars in which the
crystalline quartz occurs within the feldspar (orthoclase or microcline) in parallel
to subparallel arrangement.
Varieties: Granites may be named according to the percentage of minerals other
than quartz and feldspar; as hornblende granite, biotite granite, muscovite
granite, tourmaline granite and zircon granite. Some varieties, however, have
been named on the basis of their textural characteristics, such as porphyritic
granite, graphic granite, further, some types of granites have been named on the
basis of their overall percentage of colour index: pink granite, grey granite, etc.
Finally, in the building stone industry some varieties, though not true
granites, have been termed gabbros, dolerites, schists and gneisses.
India’s Resources: Granites are widely distributed in our country.
Andhra Pradesh: Khammam, Nalgonda, Mehboobnagar, Ranga Reddy,
Hyderabad, Warangal Prakasham districts.
Karnataka: Granite outcrop exposures occupy about 8947 km2 in the state.
However, exploitable granites cover only 1 per cent of the total area. Pink
granites cover 1780 km2, grey granites 1080 km2 and multicoloured granites
about 562 km2. Pink granites and red granites occur in talukas of Kushtagi,
Magadi, Sirguppa, Bellaryk Koppal, Lingusur, Shorapur, Ramanagaram.
Porphyritic granites occur in Bogiram gudda, Devdurga taluka, Raichur district,
Kushtagi, Koppal, Gangavati.
Grey granites occur in Chitradurga, Harpanahalli, Raichur, Sindhnur, Bellary,
Sandur, Chiknayakanahalli, Sira, Turuvekere, Somvarpet, Heggadadevankote,
Kolar, Bangalore North, Ramanagaram and elsewhere.
Tamil Nadu: Varieties of granites are available here. However, availability of true
granites is restricted to just a few localities.
Bihar: Pink granites are available in Hazaribagh, Salatua, Palamu district. Grey
granites are available near Hirnifalls Singhbhum district, Tipudana, Ranchi
Rajasthan: Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals Limited estimated 8750 m3
down to a depth of 25 m in Nuan area and 72,000 m3 down to a depth of 20 m in
Kalkaji area of Jalore district, Jodhpur, Mewar, Idar and Ajmer.
West Bengal: Grey and pink porphyritic granites are reported from a few
locations in Bankura, Birbhum and Purulia districts.
Orissa: Sambalpur.
Madhya Pradesh: Balaghat, Bhandara and Chhindwara area.
Uses: Granites are extensively utilized in various civil engineering works.
(a) Foundation: Solid granite outcrops or exposures are utilized as the
foundation of major structures. Hard granite shows a crushing strength of
about 135×106 to 24×106 n/m2. Average specific gravity is 2.65.
(b) Building and ornamental stones: Granites are extensively utilized for
building construction. However, ornamental stones are selected on the basis
of pleasing colour, texture and resistance to weathering. Pink and
porphyritic pink granites are in good demand for ornamental purposes.
Commercial buildings and places of worship are increasingly using these
Export-oriented granites: According to the United Nations Industrial Statistics
Year Book (1988) Vol. (II), India produced 6.37 million metric tons of granite
during 1987–88. Indian granites are used in granite tiles, making monuments,
kitchen sinks, granite ashtrays, etc.
Road metal and concrete aggregates: Pieces of granite are useful as road metal
and concrete aggregates also.

Granitic rocks in which the plagioclase content is more than potash-feldspar is
called granodiorite. This rock is transitional between granite and diorite. Textural
characters, occurrence and uses are similar to those of granite.

Diorite is a saturated rock with a silica percentage between 52 and 66.
Composition: Diorites are rich in plagioclase feldspars of the sodic group
(albite) and also consist of alkali feldspars and accessory minerals such as
hornblende, biotite muscovite, etc. Diorites are similar to granites.
Volcanic and hypabyssal equivalents: Andesite is the volcanic equivalent of
diorite. The mineralogical and chemical composition of these rocks are similar to
the plutonic equivalent of diorite. However, textural and structural characters
differ due to the mode of formation. In the volcanic equivalent, grain size is very
fine whereas hypabyssal rocks show dissimilar grain sizes. Some types show a
porphyritic texture.

Syenites and nepheline syenites belong to plutonic rocks. The silica percentage
varies from 59–66 per cent of saturated rocks.
Composition: Predominantly alkali feldspars with nepheline–accessory
minerals, such as quartz, plagioclase, biotite.
Texture: Similar to granitic rocks.
Varieties: The names of the number of rocks, based on the presence of accessory
minerals, such as biotite, hornblende, nepheline and sodalite are biotite syenite,
hornblende syenite, nepheline syenite, sodalite syenite.
Nepheline, corundum and zircon syenites are found in Palwancha area,
Kothagudam taluka, Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh. Calc-alkali syenites
and nepheline syenites have been reported near the Koraput region of Orissa.
Uses: Useful like granites but due to less percentage of quartz, rocks will not
show a bright appearance. In building and ornamental stone industry syenites are
considered only after granites.
Volcanic and hypabyssal equivalents: Trachyte is the volcanic equivalent of
syenite, whereas, lamprophyres and porphyres are hypabyssal equivalents.
Gabbro, dolerites and basalt: These rocks have similar mineralogical
composition and specific gravity. Dolerite is a hypabyssal equivalent of basalt.
Basalt is the volcanic equivalent of gabbro. However, these rocks differ in
textural and structural characteristics.

Gabbro is a plutonic rock. These rocks are useful in various civil engineering
Mineral composition: Essential minerals are plagioclase (generally laboradorite)
and monocline pyroxenes (augite). Accessory minerals such as hornblende,
biotite, hypersthene and olivine occur in some varieties like nepheline apatite
and magnetite.
Texture: Grain size, coarse. Some varieties show a porphyritic texture.
Varieties: Hornblende gabbro, biotite gabbro, nepheline gabbro (essexite), norite
(hypersthene gabbro) anorthosite, labrodite dunite, olivine and pyroxenes.
India’s Resources: Tamil Nadu gabbros and anorthosites are exposed near
Pottalur, Salem and Cauvery basin from Sittam Pundi to Suryaptti. Gabbros and
anorthosites also occur in Kadavur, Tiruirapalli, Tamil Nadu. Gabbro
anorthosites associated with vanadiferous magnetite occur in East Singhbhum,

Dolerites belong to the hypabyssal type of rocks. These rocks are equivalent to
gabbros. In the export-oriented building trade industry these rocks are called
black granite. It is only a trade name. Dolerites differ from granites
mineralogically, texturally and in origin.
Mineral Composition: Plagioclase feldspars (labrodorite) and pyroxenes
(augite) and iron oxides. In addition, olivine and hypersthene are also present in
minor amounts. Quartz is also occasionally present as an accessory mineral.
Texture: Dolerite shows a typically ophitic texture. Plagioclase laths are partly
or completely enclosed in augite and the texture is known as ophitic. However,
in the hand specimens a uniform medium grain is exhibited.
Varieties: The names of various varieties of dolerites are based on the accessory
mineral percentage such as quartz-dolerite, olivine-dolerite and so on. The
names of a few dolerites are based on texture, such as porphyritic dolerites.
Occurrence: Dolerites occur as intrusive dykes, intruding into the country rocks.
India’s Resources: Numerous basic dykes pass through the Singhbhum belt of
Jharkhand. These basic dykes are several metres thick and several kilometres
long. The maximum thickness is about 700 metres. In Nagpur and Chhindwara,
Maharashtra, quartz dolerites intrude into tourmaline, muscovite granite and
pegmatites. In the Eastern Ghats, mainly Visakhapatnam, Vizagnagaram and
Baster tracts, dolerite dykes intrude into gneiss, charnockites, granites and
pegmatites. Most of the Gondwana coalfields are traversed by dolerite intrusives.
These dykes are common in Satpura-Sone-Damodar, Assam coal fields.
Intrusive dolerites are seen in many localities of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, dolerite dykes occur as intrusives into
granites, especially in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Mehboobnagar, Khammam,
Nalgonda and Prakasham districts. Export-oriented dolerites occur in Khammam
In Karnataka, dolerite dykes occur as intrusives in talukas of
Chamarajanagar Yelandur, Malavalli, Hunusur, Gundulpet, T. Narasippur,
Periyapatna, Nanjangud, Kankapur and Kollegal.
In Tamil Nadu, dolerite dykes occur as intrusives. These fine-grained, good
quality, jet-black dolerites are found in the South Arcot district, Dharmapuri,
Salem, Periyar, Coimbatore, North Arcot and Chengalpattu districts in order of
reserve and quality. These rocks are in good demand in the export-oriented
building trade.
Uses: Dolerite is called ‘black granite’ in the building trade industry. These rocks
have a good demand in the international building trade. India exports huge
blocks of black granites to various countries, for instance, Garden Memorial,
Rosehill Cemetary City of Industry, California, USA. Madras Enterprises
supplied black dolerites for this project. The astronauts memorial in the USA
was built using over a hundred panels of 5 ft × 5 ft polished dolerite supplied by
the Tamil Nadu Mineral Company. Black dolerites are useful in the manufacture
of decorative stones, paperweights, gift articles, etc.

The term ‘basalt’ was coined by Pliny and is derived from the Ethiopian word
meaning black iron-bearing rock. In recent usage, the term ‘basalt’ is applied to
rock formed from lava in which plagioclase feldspars and mafic minerals occur
more or less in equal proportions.
Mineral Composition: Plagioclase feldspars and mafic minerals occur in
approximately the same percentage.
Texture: Basalt rocks are formed under volcanic conditions. Due to rapid
cooling in surface atmospheric conditions, basalt typically shows a very fine
grained texture. In some varieties, gas or liquid emissions from small cavities
have resulted in a vesicular texture. These vesicles are filled by secondary
minerals. In certain varieties, due to extreme rapid solidification, the glassy
textures are formed. Certain basalts show a flow texture due to the flow of lava.
Varieties: Basalt and olivine basalt are abundant varieties consisting of the
accessory minerals nepheline and leucite. These are called nepheline and leucite
basalt respectively. Peridotite and picrite are plutonic equivalents of olivine-rich
Occurrence: Basalts are by and large formed due to lava flows from fissure and
central eruptions.
India’s Resources: In our country, basalts occur in an area of about 3,50,000 sq
km including Mumbai, Kutch, Kathiawar, Madhya Pradesh, central India and
parts of southern India. Basalts occur in traps termed as Deccan traps. These
rocks are also found in Belgaum, Rajamundhry, etc. The Deccan traps are the
most extensive geological formations of peninsular India after igneous and
metamorphic complexes.
Uses: Basalts are used for construction work. Being hard tough and resistant to
weather fluctuations and having good binding properties, basalts are a favoured
material for the metalling of roads. Besides, they are used in aggregates in the
cement industry. Vesicular basalts are not preferred as ornamental stones due to
the presence of vesicles.
Some basalts serve as store houses for quartz, amethyst, agate, etc., which
occur as geodes. These are used as gemstones.

According to F.J. Pettijohn, ‘A sedimentary deposit is the body of solid material
accumulated at or near the surface of the earth under low temperatures and
pressures which normally characterize this environment. The sediment is
generally, but not always, deposited from a fluid in which it was contained either
in a state of suspension or solution.’ This definition encompasses most of the
materials considered as sediments or sedimentary rocks, although some
accumulations, such as the fragmental materials expelled from volcanoes,
commonly airborne and deposited in a solid condition, may be formed at higher
temperatures and others, such as the deposits made on the deep sea floor collect
under pressures much greater than normal.
The branch of petrology which deals with the study of sedimentary rocks
and their equivalents is termed sedimentary petrology. Common sediments, such
as sandstone, shale and limestone, form 95 per cent or more of all sediments.
Various investigators have worked on the computation of the proportions of
sedimentary rocks. Wickman (1954) computed that shales occupy 83 per cent,
sandstone 8 per cent and the rest is the deposition of the solid materials carried
in suspension by the agencies of transport. ‘According to available statistical
data, about 85–90 per cent of the annual yield of mineral products comes from
sedimentary minerals and ore deposits’ (Goldschmidt 1935, p. 664). Mineral
fuels of sedimentary origin such as natural gas, petroleum and coal are available
in sedimentary rocks.

▆ Origin of Sedimentary Rocks

Sedimentary deposits are solid materials lodged at or near the surface of the
earth under low temperature and pressure. The formation of sedimentary deposit
depends on (a) provenance (b) transportation (c) deposition.
(a) Provenance: The formation of sedimentary deposits depends on the source
rocks, their degrees of erosion and transporting agencies. For instance,
weathered and fractured granitic or silica-rich and metamorphic rocks
liberate weathered fragments. Formation of a particular sedimentary rock
depends on the mineral composition of the original weathered rock.
Sandstone is formed due to the availability of silica deposits from the
source rock. Limestones are formed due to the accumulation of lime
content. Shale formation is due to the accumulation of clay content.
(b) Transportation: Transportation of weathered sediments depends on such
means as flowing water, wind, glaciers, etc. If the weathered rock
fragments deposit at or near the site of the original rock, this results in the
formation of gravels, pebbles, cobbles, etc. If eroded, rock fragments travel
for a long distance, the fragmented rock becomes rounded, loses its size
and forms smaller and smaller grains.
(c) Deposition: Depositional environment plays an important role in the
formation of sedimentary rocks. Weathered transported material is
deposited on ocean floors, riverbeds, lakebeds, etc.
▆ Texture of Sedimentary Rocks
Texture is the intimate mutual arrangement of mineral grains. It depends on the
shape, size and arrangement of the mineral grains of the rocks.

Various terms are adopted by sedimentary petrologists. The common terms used
are given in Table 4.4.
Table 4.4. Description of Size Terms

Texture Common Terms

Coarse Gravel
Medium Sand
Fine Clay

Several scales are adopted. The Committee on Sedimentation at the

National Research Council issued a series of technical reports on the
nomenclature of sedimentation based on size. The common terms adopted are
based on the Scales given by Williams (1932), Wentworth (1935) and Allen
(1936). The generalized and recommended scale is as follows:
BOULDER: Boulder was defined as a detached rock mass, somewhat
rounded or otherwise modified by abrasion in transport and larger than a cobble,
with a minimum size of 256 mm.
COBBLE: Defined in the same manner as a boulder but its size is restricted
from 64 mm to 256 mm.
PEBBLE: A pebble is a rock fragment larger than a coarse sand grain and
smaller than a cobble. Its size is between 4 mm and 64 mm in diameter.
SAND: This term denotes a mineral or rock fragment which is greater than
1/16 mm and less than 2 mm in diameter.
SILT: Defined as 1/16 mm to 1/256 mm in diameter.
CLAY: Size less than 1/256 mm in diameter.

▆ Classification of Sedimentary Rocks

Sedimentary rocks are broadly classified on the basis of the size and origin of
sediment. Five groups are recognised:
(1) Rudaceous (2) Arenaceous (3) Argillaceous (4) Calcareous (5)
Carbonaceous deposits.
Rudaceous Deposits
Rocks consisting mainly of gravel, pebbles, cobbles or boulders and cemented
materials of conglomerate and breccia belong to this group.

Conglomerate: Loosely cemented heterogeneous materials consisting of

boulders, cobbles and pebbles are called a conglomerate. Grain size is generally
rounded to subrounded (Fig. 4.21).

Fig. 4.21. Conglomerate

Breccia: Breccia is the name given to coarse cemented angular fragments (Fig.
4.22). The composition is heterogeneous. Breccia is also formed due to the
crushing of rocks along fault zones called fault breccia. Some breccias formed
due to cementation of volcanic fragments are called volcanic breccia.
Occurrence: Conglomerates and breccias occur in sedimentary rocks in the
Vindhyas, Kurnool systems.

Fig. 4.22. Breccia

Uses: Diamonds occur in conglomerate beds, separating different series at Panna

in Madhya Pradesh and Wajrakarur region in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.
Arenaceous Deposits
Rocks mainly consisting of sandy material belong to this group. Most of the
sands are composed of quartz and other loose sediments. The sediment’s origin
depends on its sources. Roundness or angularity of the sand grains depends on
the degree of weathering and transportation. Other important minerals that occur
along with sand are feldspars, apatite, garnet, zircon, tourmaline and magnetite.
These minerals are derived mainly from igneous and metamorphic rocks. These
deposits occur in beach sands, river sands, etc. Along the west coast of India, in
the Kerala and Konkan coasts in particular, large quantities of heavy minerals,
zircon and thorium are found.

Sandstones: Weathered sand sediment after natural compaction converts into

sandstone. The composition of a sedimentary rock is dependent on its cementing
materials and compaction of the source rock material from which the sediment is
derived. Sedimentary rocks show sedimentary features, such as ripple marks and
graded bedding. Sedimentary rocks are formed in oceans, lakes or river-beds and
estuaries, etc. Sandstones are formed in layers. Hence, they are commonly
referred to as layered rocks. They are formed as bedding planes.
Varieties of sandstone
Sandstone is classified on the basis of its cementing material and percentage of
mineral composition.
Ferruginous sandstone: A red or brown sandstone. These colours are due to the
presence of ferruginous material which acts as a cementer.
Siliceous sandstone: Sand grains are cemented with grains of quartz. Thus, this
sandstone is very hard in nature.
Calcareous sandstone: Sand grains are cemented with calcareous material. They
are weak due to the cementation material.
Argillaceous sandstone: Celay materials are bound with sand grains as the
cementing material. Such rocks are very weak and soften with water.
Arkose: Sandstone consisting of 60 per cent quartz and 30–34 per cent feldspars
is called ARKOSE. This is typically a coarse-grained rock. Some varieties
appear pink or reddish due to the imparted colours of feldspars. Traces of micas
may also be present.
Occurrence: The Vindhyan system consists of calcareous and arenaceous
sandstone. The said Vindhyan system occupies a large basin extending from
Dehri to Hoshangabad and from Chittoragarh to Agra and Gwalior.
Sandstone, which has a pleasing colour and is workable and durable, is
extensively utilised as building stones. These workable deposits are found in
Kota, Dholpur, Bundi, Jaipur, Bikaner, Bharatpur in Rajasthan and in Mirzapur
and other localities in Uttar Pradesh. Long rocks are used in columns and beams.
Red sandstone was used in the construction of the Red Fort in Delhi, the
mosques at Agra and Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was also constructed with red
Gondwana sandstone, especially at Barakar, Raniganj, Kamthi and
Panchamari is locally used as building stone. Gondwana sandstone, compared to
Vindhyan sandstone, is not of a good quality. However, Ahmednagar sandstone
has been used in temples at Puri, Konark and Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa.
In Cuddalore, sandstone is found in the area extending from Rameshwaram
through Pudukottah, Tanjor, Cuddalore, Pondicherry, Chennai, Nellore to
Rajamahendri. Sandstone is also a source of economic minerals. For instance,
about 260 sq km of lignite deposits are obtained from Cuddalore sandstone,
around Neyveli.
Oil and gas deposits also occur in the sandstones of Cauvery and Godavari
basins. Extensive exploration is in progress.
Gondwana coal deposits are mainly associated with sandstone. Coalfields
are distributed in Rajmahal, Deogarh, Hazaribagh, Damodar Valley, Palamau,
Chhattisgarh and Sone, Mahanadi, Satpura, Wardha and Godavari Valley.

Argillaceous Deposits
Shale sediments are the most abundant in nature. Argillaceous deposits, clay and
shales in particular, are used for bricks, building and roofing tiles, etc.
Clay has been defined as a natural plastic earth material, mainly composed
of hydrous aluminium silicates sizes of which are less than 0.002 mm.
Shale is a laminated rock. Silt is the material which is between 1/16 mm
and 1/256 mm in diameter.
Composition of Shale: Various investigators have suggested the average
mineral composition of shale. Shaw and Weaver (1956) analysed shale
composition, which is present in Table 4.5.
Table 4.5. Average Mineral Composition of Shale (after Shaw and Weaver, 1956)

Constituent Percentage
Quartz 36.60
Feldspar 4.50
Clay minerals 54.00
Iron oxides Less than 0.50
Carbonates 3.60
Other minerals Less than 2.00
Organic matter 1.00

Types of Shale: (a) Residual clay (b) Common shale (c) Red shale and
mudstone (d) Black shale (e) Miscellaneous shale.
(a) Residual clay/shale: Residual clay forms in place due to an in-situ soil-
forming process. However, the character of these deposits is dependent on
the parent rock material, climatic conditions, drainage pattern and
geomorphological nature of the region.
(b) Common shale: These shales are mixtures of clay minerals, silt and quartz.
The percentage of clay minerals varies considerably. In some shales it
ranges from 45 to 80 per cent.
(c) Red shale and mudstone: Red shale and mudstone are widely spread rocks.
The colour varies from pink to red to grey. The colour of the rock depends
on the oxidised environment of the accumulated clay particles. Generally,
red shale is non-fossiliferous.
(d) Black shale: Black shale is fissile or splittable in nature. Black shale
contains very few fossils. Average black shale consists of SiO2 about 30 to
60 per cent, Al2O3 8 to 19 per cent, Fe2O3 about 0.3 to 4 per cent, other
variables MgO, CaO, P2O5 1 to 2 per cent and carbon 3 to 16 per cent.
(e) Miscellaneous shales: Calcareous Shales are very common. The lime
carbonate content is very low. Marl consists of clay minerals and lime
carbonate. Miscellaneous shales are divided on the basis of the percentage
of mineral contents, for instance ferruginous shale, alumina shale, etc.
Occurrence and Uses: Shales occur in the Cuddapah system as rocks, such as
Vempalle shales, Cumbum shales, Tadpatri shales, Kolmanala shales series.
Rocks of the Cuddapah system occur in a large area in Andhra Pradesh. The total
area occupied by the Cuddapah system rocks is about 42,000 sq km. Cumbum
shales contain well-cloven workable slates at Markapur in Kurnool district,
Andhra Pradesh. Refractory clay is utilized in the ceramic industry.
The Vindhyan system consists of shalebeds, such as the Kaimur, Rewa and
Bhander series.
Bijargarh shales of the lower Kaimur series consist of pyrites and coals.
However, Auk shales in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh yield good quality
fireclays, yellow ochres, etc.
Palaeozoic group: The Cambrian of carboniferous systems consist of various
The Gondwana system consists of various types of clays. Coal seams are
associated with fireclays useful in refractories in the Barakar stage. Raniganj,
Jharia and Jabalpur regions have established factories for pottery, chinaware, etc.

Calcareous Deposits
Limestones and Dolomites: Limestone is a very common sedimentary rock. It
has been estimated that limestone and dolomite form one-fifth to one-fourth of
the stratigraphic records.
Limestones: Limestone consists essentially of calcium carbonate with
magnesium carbonate and siliceous matter. The average chemical composition of
limestone shows 93 per cent CaCO3 and MgCO3 and 5 per cent SiO3. Limestone
is mainly formed due to the accumulation of carbonate detritus. Limestones are
classified on the basis of the presence of carbonates: siliceous limestone,
argillaceous limestone, ferruginous limestone and bituminous limestone.
However, some limestones are named after their textural characters, such as
oolitic limestone, vesicular limestone and dolomitic limestone. These consist of
double carbonates of MgCO3, CaCO3.
Occurrence and Uses: Limestones are useful in building stones. Crushed
limestone is used in concrete aggregate and road metal. Lime is extracted from
calcinization of limestone.
In the Cuddapah system, limestones are associated with the Papaghani
series, Vempalli limestone stage. Limestones also occur in the Vindhyan system
rocks and Kurnool system. Large deposits of limestones occur in the Upper
Carboniferous to Permian system.

Carbonaceous Deposits
Deposits which are formed by the accumulation of organic materials are
included in this group. These are coal, peat, lignite, anthracite and cannel coal.
All these rocks consist of plant debris in various stages of alteration.
Peat: It is derived from compressed mosses and plants. It has a high ash content
and smoke when burnt. Peat is not completely transformed coal. However, it is
considered the first stage of coal formation.
Lignite: Also called brown coal, it is a low rank coal. Lignite generally retains
the structure of the original wood from which it is converted. The average
calorific value of lignite ranges from 6.5×106 to 11×106 Joules.
India’s Resources: The Cuddalore sandstone in the South Arcot district, Tamil
Nadu and Pondicherry contain thick lignite beds. Lignite seams occupy an area
of about 250 sq km. Presently, Neyveli lignite is being exploited by open-cast
mining on a large scale. Neyveli lignite contains 50 per cent moisture. Air-dried
Neyveli lignite shows an average composition: moisture 11–16 per cent,
volatiles 36–45 per cent, fixed carbon 31–40 per cent and ash content 3–8 per
cent. However, after processing pure lignite coal shows 65–70 per cent carbon,
20–50 per cent oxygen and 5 per cent hydrogen plus some percentage of
nitrogen and sulphur. Lignite deposits have been exploited in Gujarat also.
Bituminous Coal: Bituminous coal is a higher rank of coal which is used in
industries. The average bituminous coal contains 80–85 per cent carbon and
shows a calorific value of 14 × 106 to 16 × 106 Joules. The semi-bituminous
coals are transitional between coal and anthracite.
Most of the coal deposits in Gondwana are found in the Damodar system,
Barakar and Raniganj series. Important coalfields are situated in Godavari
valley, Wardha Valley, Satpura Sone Valley and Chhattisgarh, Mahanadi Valley,
Palaman, Damodar Valley, Hazaribagh, Deogarh and Rajmahal.
Anthracite: This is a high rank coal which consists of 90–95 per cent carbon and
low oxygen and hydrogen; calorific value 15 × 166 J. This type of coal is not
available in India.
Cannel Coal: It is a non-banded, dull black coal of bituminous rank with
conchoidal fracture. It has high volatile constituents.

The term ‘metamorphism’ is derived from Greek, meta (signifying change) and
morphe, shape. Metamorphism thus denotes the transformation of rocks into new
types by the recrystallization of their constituents. In the metamorphic process,
most minerals are completely or partially recrystallized within the rocks and new
textures and structures are formed. The changes which occur in metamorphism
are due to temperature and pressue conditions in the crustal layers of the earth.
Generally, original igneous rocks, sedimentary or metamorphosed rocks also are
transformed into new recrystallized rocks due to temperature and pressure

▆ Agents of Metamorphism
The process of metamorphism is mainly due to three factors: (a) temperature (b)
pressure (c) chemically active fluids. Metamorphism takes place at the crustal
layers of the earth. The temperature increases in the deeper zones of the crustal
The pressure developed due to gravity results in hydrostatic pressure, which
prompts changes in the volume of the rocks. This in turn develops non-uniform
pressure, which changes the shape of the rock constituents.
Chemically active fluids are the most important factor in metamorphism.
Fluid occupies void spaces and fissures. Water, carbon dioxide and volatile
matters present in the magma influence the rock particles.

Structure of Metamorphic Rocks

Holmes (1921) suggested the classification of metamorphic structures into five
groups: cataclastic, maculose, schistose, granulose and gneissose.

A cataclastic structure develops due to the breakdown of fragmental rocks,
mainly as a result of shearing action (Fig. 4.23). This causes soft rocks, such as
shale to shatter and get crushed to form crushbreccia, which forms mylonite at a
later stage. In some instances more resistant minerals undergo less crushing
while in other cases less resistant minerals undergo severe deformation and form
a porphyroclastic structure. This texture is typically exhibited by cataclasite and

Fig. 4.23. Cataclastic structure ex-granite mylonite.

In some metarmorphic works, porphyroblasts of resistant minerals, such as
cordierite, andalusite and biotite are developed and in some varieties spotting is
visible due to incipient crystallization of these minerals and segregation of
carbonaceous matter (Fig. 4.24). Maculose texture is typically exhibited in
argillaceous rocks under thermal or contact metamorphism. Resistant minerals
like cordierite, alusite, biotite develop a spotted appearance.

Fig. 4.24. Maculose structure ex-slate

Fig. 4.25. Schistose ex-biotite schist

A schistose structure is typically exhibited by schist rocks. These rocks show
more or less parallel bands (Fig. 4.25). Flaky minerals, such as biotite,
hornblende, chlorit and talc are influenced by the temperature and pressure
conditions and form parallel layered arrangements resulting in a schistose
structure. However, if the bands are unequidimensional, this is termed foliation.
Schistose texture is exhibited in rocks, such as hornblende schist, chlotire schist,
and biltite schist.
A granulose structure is formed due to the presence of subhedral grain minerals,
such as quartz, feldspar, pyroxene, calcite, etc. A granulose texture exhibits more
or less a uniform grain size (Fig. 4.26). Marble and quartzite rocks exhibit a
granulose texture.

Fig. 4.26. Granulose ex-marble

Fig. 4.27. Gneissose ex-granite gneiss

A gneissose structure is formed due to the alteration of schistose bands and
granulose structure. A gneissose structure is not parallel, hence, it exhibits a
dissimilarity in nature (Fig. 4.27). Generally the foliation is also not parallel.
Hornblende and biotite show disconnected bands. A gneissose texture is
exhibited by rocks, such as granite gneiss and hornblende gneiss.

▆ Classification of Metamorphic Rocks

Three major classes of metamorphism are identified on the basis of temperature
and pressure. They are:
(1) Contact/Thermal metamorphism: In this process, rise of temperature is the
dominant factor. Thermal effects are influenced by the contact zones of
country rocks of igneous or sedimentary types, which are downfolded into
hotter zones in the crustal layers.
(2) Regional metamorphism: In this process, both temperature and pressure
affect a large regional area.
(3) Dynamic or dislocation metamorphism: In this process rock stress is the
dominant factor, as in shearing belts.

Contact Metamorphism
During contact metamorphism, if the contact bordering zone is a granite
rockmass intruded into a sedimentary rock, the latter is metamorphosed to some
distance from the contact area. For instance, sandstone is converted into
quartzite and limestone into marble.

Regional Metamorphism
Regional metamorphism develops under the hydrostatic pressure rising from the
weight of overlying rocks. It results in the origin of shearing stresses. The grade
of metamorphism increases with depth. Increasing temperatures are associated
with stress conditions. In the epizone, low temperature, high shearing stresses
originate. In the mesozone, moderate temperature and pressure occur. In the
deeper katazone, stress develops with temperature.
These conditions favour conversion of sedimentary rocks of argillaceous
composition into slate or schist or gneiss. However, certain minerals formed in
regional metamorphism are as follows:
In the epizone: Chlorite, epidote, albite and sericite.
In the mesozone: Biotite, hornblende, garnet and kyanite. During regional
metamorphism new rocks are formed due to temperature and pressure
conditions. For instance, argillaceous rocks are converted to form slates.
Increased temperature, pressure and stress conditions cause argillaceous rocks to
convert into different rocks in this manner.
Shale Slate Phyllite Mica-schist
Regional metamorphism in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks favours the
formation of schist rocks. For example, mica-schist is formed from argillaceous
rocks. Hornblende schist is formed due to the basic composition of rocks.
However, gneiss, granulites and migmatites are also formed under regional

Dislocation Metamorphism
Earth movements, especially the faulting movements, alter the rocks. During
faulting, excess energy is released along the faulted zone. This process activates
mechanical breakdown, shearing, grinding and crushing termed cataclasis. Zones
of dislocation may consist of amphiboles and micas.
Occurrence: Metamorphic rocks, belonging to the Archaean formation in the
Indian shield, occupy most of southern and eastern India and parts of Assam,
Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan as well as the Sub and Central Himalayas.


Rock is the most widely accessible building material available to man from
prehistoric times. Stones have been in use for construction and architectural
purposes since the beginning of the civilization itself. Antiquity aside, stone is
regaining great popularity as a building, ornamental, structural and foundational
material through revolution in the art of quarrying or mining and polishing. Rock
occurs on the earth’s crust in the form of outcrops, intrusives, hillocks and
mountains. But not all available rocks are suitable for the aforesaid purposes.
The purpose of utility, nature of the rock types, durability, amenability,
availability, etc., must be considered. The trade industry depends on various
specialists, like the field geologist, quarryman, mining engineer, mason and
architects of structural engineers. India is presently exporting large quantities of
dimension stones to various countries. Apart from technical persons, such
exports also depend on trade persons who have knowledge about the
international dimension stone trade.
Granites, porphyries, diorites, gabbros, charnockites, amphibolites, basalts,
schists, gneisses, slates, marbles, quartzites, limestones and sandstones are used
as building stones in our country, depending on their availability. In the
dimension stone trade industry, all these rocks are called granites. They differ
only on the basis of colour and are classified as grey granites, pink granites, red
granites, multicolour granites and black granites. But, the true petrological
definition of granite differs from its mineral composition, texture and mode of
Selection of a stone for achitectural work is the most challenging task. A
basic understanding of the nature of the rock type to be used in architectural
work is essential. Rock (stone) is a natural aggregate of minerals formed under
the inorganic processes of nature. Rocks are broadly classified into three groups
based on their genesis: (a) igneous or primary rocks (b) sedimentary or
secondary rocks (c) metamorphic or deformed rocks.

▆ Igneous Rocks
Igneous rocks are derived from the solidification of molted material, magma or
lava. They are subjected to different rates of crystallization. These rocks exhibit
different crystalline textures and structures. Rocks derived from magma are
called magmatic rocks. These rocks exhibit a coarse grain texture and are
considered the hardest rocks due to crystallization at greater depths, e.g., granite,
syenite, gradodiorite, pyroxenite, amphibolite, dunite. These rocks are widely
distributed in peninsular India and are used for various structural engineering
works wherein granite is widely used.
Rocks derived from lava are called volcanic rocks. These rocks exhibit a
volcanic or vesicular texture. Even these rocks are hard in nature. Nevertheless,
they are not preferred by architects or structural engineers for interior or exterior
decoration. Examples are basalts, trachyte and rhyolite. These rocks occur
widely in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Central India. The structural engineers select
these rocks for foundations, railway ballast, road aggregates, etc.
Rocks which are formed as intrusives are called intrusive rocks or dyke
rocks. These commonly occur as intrusions into country rocks. They exhibit a
uniform texture and are black in colour. Given these properties, intrusive rocks
are in greater demand than any other types of rocks. Examples are dolerite or
black granite. These rocks are well-distributed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu.

▆ Sedimentary Rocks
Sedimentary rocks are formed by weathering and transportation and are
deposited on the oceanic floor in the form of layers. Examples of these are
sandstone, limestone, shales. These rocks are considered to be weak because
they are formed in a secondary genesis. From this group, consolidated
sandstones and limestones are used as building materials. These rocks are widely
distributed in many parts of our country. If we observe archeological excavations
and monumental structures of historical importance, we see that important
construction works were built from red sandstones and varicoloured limestones,
e. g., the Red Fort of Delhi built with red stone; historical buildings of Rajasthan
built to some extent with varicoloured limestones.

▆ Metamorphic Rocks
Metamorphic rocks are derived from pre-existing rocks due to intense
temperature, pressure or both, e.g., granite igneous rock is metamorphosed to
form gneiss, limestone sedimentary rock is metamorphosed to form marble.
Schist and gneiss rocks are well distributed particularly in southern India. These
are considered hard rocks. Given their banded texture, some architects do not
prefer these rocks for exterior decoration. Schist, gneisses and quartzites are
widely used for foundation and structural engineering works. Marble is used for
monumental stones due to its pleasing colours and textures. Examples: The Taj
Mahal and a few other monumental structures and temples are built from these

▆ Definition of Granite
The term granite as used in the dimension and structural trade industry is
somewhat ambiguous since it does not reflect in all respects the term,
petrological definition. In petrology, granite is the group name for a family of
plutonic or acidic igneous rocks. It consists of essential minerals, such as quartz
and feldspars as well as accessory minerals, such as hornblende, biotite,
muscovite. In the dimension stone trade industry, the quarryman or mining
engineer, structural engineer, architects, dimension stone trader, exporter and
consumer include, in addition to true granite, many other rocks of the igneous
group, such as syenities, granodiorites, porphyries, amphibolites, phyroxenites,
dunites, gabbros and dolerites under the trade name ‘granite’. Rocks from the
metamorphic group, such as schits, gneiss, quartzites are also included under this
trade name.
The average mineral composition of typical granite as analysed in the
laboratory is shown in Table 4.6.
Table 4.6. Average Mineralogical Composition of True Granite

1. Essential Minerals:
Quartz 44
Orthoclase 33
Plagioclase feldspars 16
2. Accessory minerals:
Hornblende 4
Biotite 2
3. Secondary and Opaque minerals 1

However, in the dimension stone trade industry, all the above-listed rocks
are called granite. They are classified only on the basis of colour: grey granites,
pink granite, red granite, multicoloured granite, black granite, etc.


Selection of good building stones depends on various requirements and is the
most challenging task confronting an architect. It depends on the type of
construction, nature of its utility, durability, etc.

▆ Availability
Stones selected for building construction must be available in mass. General,
observation of building construction material reveals that the structural engineer
prefers to use locally available building stones.

▆ Workability
Rocks which are going to be used for foundations and superstructures should be
available in the form of slabs, cubes or rectangular blocks. Well-jointed rocks
will facilitate easy quarry of huge blocks of stones. Joints determine the size of
the stone which the quarry operator can recover. Fracture pattern, systematic
joints and bedding planes are influenced by the nature of quarrying of huge
blocks. The joint magnitude plays a vital role in quarrying and structural

▆ Durability
Among all the factors involved, durability plays an important role during the
selection of a particular stone for construction. All rocks will not serve for a long
period. Long service depends on the type of rocks, composition, degree of
cementation, etc.
The following types of mineral cements are identified in commercial
dimension stone:

Siliceous Cement
Mineral grains in rocks which are cemented with siliceous material provide high
strength. But strength depends on the degree of cementation and percentage of
void spaces filled with cementing material. Given this factor, acid igneous rocks
which consist of silicate minerals will provide more strength and durability.
Compactness of the mineral grains further strengthens the rocks. The origin of
the rocks also plays a role in its strength. Metamorphic quartzites are stronger
and more durable than sedimentary quartzites. This is because the former
provides uniform and compact mineral grains. Examples: granite and other acid
igneous rocks.

Carbonate Cement
Sedimentary rocks are distinguished from other rocks by the presence of
cementing material and grain size. Mineral grains cemented with calcareous
minerals will provide sufficient strength and durability. Examples: Marble,
limestone, dolomite.

Argillaceous Cement
Cement with clay content is not sufficiently strong as compared to other
cementing materials. Structures built with clay cement material may not be very
durable. If the clay content is exposed to water, it will bulge due to its high
water-absorbing capacity and ultimately the structure will develop
microfractures. The architect who selects such rocks for construction must take
sufficient precautions. These rocks are useful in dry regions or regions with low
precipitation. Examples: Shale, argillaceous sandstone.

Ferruginous Cementing Material

Iron oxide intrusions, especially in sedimentary rocks, will not bind all the grains
firmly because the cementing is poor and incomplete. Such rocks are therefore
weak and not at all suitable for structural engineering works. Examples:
Ferruginous sandstone, laterites.

Colour Stability of Building and Ornamental Stones

The colour of structural and monumental stone poses a challenge to the engineer
and architect who have to achieve with it the most effective and harmonious
appearance in structural or architectural designs. Utilization of different shades
of stone has given new life to many existing structures. Rock or stone is
composed of one or more minerals. Colours are thereby influenced by the colour
of the predominant mineral, by the adjacent minerals and by grain size (Winkler,
1975). The colour of a rock is determined by the percentage of essential
minerals. However, in certain rocks an excess of such accessory minerals as
biotite and hornblende reduces their bright appearance. In general construction
rocks, such as granite, dolerite, marble, more colour is imparted because of the
presence of essential minerals. Of all the exported dimension stones, black
granite (dolerite) is in high demand in the foreign dimension stone trade industry
because this rock exhibits uniform grains of black colouration. Polished surfaces
of these rocks lure many viewers. The black colouration in dolerite (black
granite) in imparted by the presence of ferromagnesian minerals. After black
granites, pink and grey granites are next in demand in this trade. Grey, pink or
multicolouration are due to the presence of feldspars and grey quartz. A colour
analysis of structural and monumental stones is presented in Table 4.7.

▆ Grain Size and Texture

Fine uniform mineral grains exhibit a pleasing appearance. Structural engineers
and architects usually prefer uniform textured rocks for exterior decoration.
Colour and texture together are the factors that place building and monumental
stones in good demand. The value of commercial stone depends on these vital
factors. The texture and grain of some dimension stones were analysed and the
inferences are presented in Table 4.8.


Hardness of a rock is termed as its resistance to permanent deformation.
This is a vital factor in the dimension trade industry for the selection of
stone for polishing and export. Hardness can be measured by several methods.
Here we shall discuss only Moh’s hardness, abrasive hardness and drilling
Table 4.7. Colour Stability of Structural and Monumental Stones
Table 4.8. Textural Classification of Building and Ornamental Stones
Source: Venkat Reddy (1988).
A comparative analysis of Moh’s abrasive and drilling hardness is presented
in Table 4.9.
Rocks with a high degree of hardness are durable for a longer span of time.
However, durability also depends on the engineering parameters of rocks and
classification of rock materials on the basis of compressive strength, as
developed by Hawkes and Meller (1970).
Table 4.9. Comparative Analysis of Rock Hardness

Compiled from Taylor (1949), Winchell (1945) and Tertsch (1949).

Source: E.M. Winkler (1973) Stone Properties, Durability in Man’s Environment.
In USA, the National Bureau of Standards carried out extensive research
work to devise standards for testing dimension stone. The American Society of
Testing Materials (ASTM) subsequently developed standard specifications for
engineering-grade and architectural-grade work materials giving the physical
requirements of each. Structural granites were classified as under:

▆ Engineering Grade
Bridge, piers, sea and river walls, dams and related structures, bridge
superstructures, retaining walls, flexural members, curbstone and pavements.

▆ Architectural Grade
Monumental structures, institutional buildings, commercial buildings, residential
buildings, landscaping, parks, posh hotels, theatres, places of workship,
ornamental and private improvements.
The physical requirements of these grades and life expectancies are
presented in Table 4.10.
(i) Specific gravity: Moderate specific gravity (2.62–2.85) was taken into
account as a criterion for the selection of stones. Many petrologists prefer
rocks of 2.65 specific gravity. However, this will vary depending on the
model mineral percentage. For example, rocks containing ferromagnetic
minerals will show more specific gravity.
(ii) Porosity: Porosity is defined as the percentage of void spaces to total
volume. Porous rock will absorb rainwater and moisture from the
atmosphere and decay and disintegrate more readily than non-porous
rocks. Thus, the architect should not select porous weathered and
disintegrated rocks for any type of construction. Generally,
unconsolidated sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone and limestone show
more porosity than consolidated rocks of the same type. Igneous and
metamorphic rocks are considered to be non-porous. Here the porosity
factor depends on the degree of weathering. Fractured, weathered and
integrated rocks show more porosity than consolidated rocks of the
sedimentary type. Hence, the structural engineer must select stones of a
non-porous nature for architectural works.
Table 4.10. Physical Requirements for Life Expectancies of Various Types of Structures
Source: American Society for Testing Materials. Designation C422-58T.

▆ Resistance to Weathering
Rocks selected for architectural and monumental construction should not get
weathered quickly due to climatic changes. It is very important for an architect
to understand this factor before making suggestions to contractors. If we observe
some monumental buildings and temples, we will realize the importance of this
factor. We have recently been hearing from environmentalists that the famous
Taj Mahal is going to be affected by the industrial pollution in its surroundings.
The scientific validity of this statement is indisputable. Even rocks are
influenced by environmental pollution. The decay of natural rock and stone has
been recorded by architects in many countries. Rocks are eroded due to physical
and chemical weathering. Besides, erosion depends on various other factors,
such as rock type, degree of cementation, climatic nature of the area, pollution,
etc. Generally, secondary rocks, such as sandstones and limestones erode much
more readily than primary and deformed rocks. Chemical weathering is the most
powerful agent and far more destructive. Silicate rocks are more resistant to
weathering than carbonate rocks. While selecting stones for architectural grades
for long-life expectancy, all the aforesaid factors must be considered.

▆ Utilization of Dimension Stones

Dimension stones are selected for various purposes, their selection being based
on the form and type of rock. The relation of these features is formulated in
Table 4.11.
Ornamental stones are those used for interior and exterior decoration. They
add beauty to the buildings. They are commonly employed in monumental
buildings, posh hotels, theatres, places of worship and even for carving statues,
idols and erecting tombstones (Gurappa, 1988). Ornamental stones are used for
various purposes. These are listed in Table 4.12.
Table 4.11. Various Forms and Utilization of Dimension Stones

Source: Gurappa (1988).

Table 4.12. Forms and Utilization of Ornamental Stones

Source: Gurappa (1988).

▆ Production and Export of Building Stones

In India various types of building stones are quarried from Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Haryana.
According to the records of the Indian Bureau of Mines India exported
14,89,167 tonnes of granites during 1999–2000 to various countries as Japan,
Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, USA and so forth. In
addition, marble exported was 105,664 tonnes and slate 2,40,623 tonnes during
According to the Mineral Bureau of South Africa, India exported 0.66
million tonnes of raw granite blocks. India bagged the first position among the
stone producing countries of the world in 1991 (MBS, 1991). As per IBM
records, in the year 1998–99, India produced about 14,55,013 tonnes of granite.
According to the All India Granite and Stone Association (AIGSA), the
value of granite exported from India was 2,738 crore in 2008–09. The same year
India exported 30 lakh tonnes of granite. The export of polished granites and
slabs was recorded as 2.75 lakh tonnes in 2008–09.
Current Demand for Indian Dimension Stones in International Market
The Indian stone market established itself in the export of stone products such as
building slabs, tiles, monumental and dimensional blocks, which are fully
admired and appreciated all over the world. Recently, Indian export market
broke new grounds for the export of the processed high value products, in
addition to dimensional stone blocks.
Table 4.13. Commercial Decorative Dimensional Stones—Their Lithological Nomenclature and Their
Trade Names
Source: GSI, AIGSA, DMG, Karnataka brochures.

Table 4.14. Geological Survey of India—Statewise Resources of Commercial rocks/granites (AS per GSI,
information brochure released for STONA–1999, Bangalore)
Source: GSI, Dimension Stone Granite Appraisal, 1999.
The export market of the Indian building stones is dependent on various
factors, such as size of block, type of rocks, colour of rocks, international
demand and supply as also the export and import policy of the government.

Road Metal Requirements

Rocks used for road metalling should possess the following properties: (a) high
abrasive resistance (b) high compressive strength to bear the load of moving
vehicles (c) good binding capacity with cement and asphalt. Low porous and
permeable rocks are suitable, brittle rocks are unsuitable. Rocks, such as
granites, basalts, dolerites, gneisses and quartzites are utilized as road metal.
Aggregates: Selection of suitable aggregates is vital. Some aggregates will react
with concrete, the others with swell materials.
Aggregates require the following properties: (a) hardness and toughness (b)
resistance to weathering (c) cementing property (d) non-swelling property.
Common aggregates: Andesites, dolerite, syenite, pegmatite, sandstone, gneiss,
schists, quartzites, slate and others.


The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is the third oldest geological survey in the
world and the second oldest scientific organization in the country. Ever since its
inception in 1851, the survey has been making phenomenal contributions for the
all-round development of the nation by evaluating various mineral resources
required for diverse industries.
India, with an estimated resource of about 1,690 million cu m comprising
over 160 shades of decorative/ornamental rock deposits, accounts for about 20
per cent of the total world resources. Of the 300 varieties being traded in the
world stone market, nearly half (150–155) are from our country. Extensive
exploration by the Geological Survey of India, state mines and geology
departments, state mining corporations, private entrepreneurs and other agencies
have reported commercial decorative rock deposits/varieties from the states of
Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,
Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

▆ Granite/Commercial/Building/Ornamental/Decorative/Dimension Stone
In commercial stone industries all rocks are traded as granites. Besides,
commercial names are also used for specific colour/design/texture variety of
stones, etc. The first export of granite (black granite) from India dates back to
1925 from Kuppam, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh to the United Kingdom
for use as tombstone. Since then the stone industry has taken rapid strides and
today India ranks fifth in the world production of raw commercial stones
Of the total Indian granite exports 40 per cent are to Japan, 39 per cent to
European countries, 7 per cent to USA and the rest to other countries. Presently,
there are about 200 export oriented granite cutting and polishing units in addition
to over 200 small scale units spread over the country.
The Dimension Stone Granite cell of the Geological Survey of India
surveyed 98,918 sq km area covering 17 states, wherein they estimated a reserve
of about 473 M cu m black granite with a recovery of 10 per cent, and 3,808
Mcum of multicoloured granites with a recovery of 20 per cent. These reserves
have been found at 10 m below the earth’s surface. (GSI, 1999).


Karnataka is a pioneer in the exploitation of commercial decorative rock deposit
resources and in establishing a firm base for the stone industry. The commercial
stone industry in the state has grown in status contributing about 40 per cent of
the decorative/dimensional stones of both polished and rough blocks exported
from the country. Karnataka forms a part of the Indian peninsular shield and
extends over an area of 1,91,792 sq km. Peninsular gneisses, closepet granite,
younger dykes, such as dolerite, felsite, pyroxenite of different ages are the main
sources of commercial rock deposits. The state also produces premium varieties
like ruby red and black granite (dolerite) and popular varieties. The demand for
the premium varieties is generally steady in the international market. World
famous commercial ornamental stone varieties are being exported from
Kanakapura, Bangalore, Malaikaval, Hassan, Sira, Tumkur and Illkal in Bijapur
district of Karnataka. Important commercial stones in the Karnataka stone
industry are marketed with commercial names, such as Imperial red, Himalayan
blue, Ocean white, Sabal black, Ruby red, Hassan green, Sawan rose, Sira grey,
English teak, Tiger’s skin, Pink panther, Salt and pepper, Cat’s eye, Chilly red,
The success of commercial stone industry solely depends upon the
availability of large reserves of defect-free rock deposits. Detection of defects in
commercial rock deposits plays an important role in quality assessment. Macro
defects can be detected by visual examination of commercial rock deposits.
Microdiscontinuities, altered, twisted minerals can be detected by a systematic
micropetrographic analysis of the rock specimens. In Karnataka, too many
organizations, entrepreneurs, individuals have been investing huge amounts
without evaluating the quality of the deposit. This results in bad quality output as
a consequence of which leaseholders abandon quarrying midway. Quarry owners
and stone exporters should be quality conscious about export oriented natural
stones to remain in the business and keep up the image of the country in the
world market.

▆ Selection Techniques
The industrial success is contingent upon defect-free rock/stone blocks. The
defects in commercial rock deposits adversely affect the quality of stones.
Detection of defects in decorative and dimensional stones plays a vital role in
quality assessment (Venkat Reddy, 1996).
From exploration techniques utilized for the evaluation of natural defects in
commercial rock deposits of Karnataka, the following natural defects have been
identified and studied in detail for their impact on the quality of the rock deposits
which are :
• Colour variations
• Textural variation
• Structural discontinuities
• Microdiscontinuities
• Intrusives
• Inclusions
• Accessory minerals
• Contact zones
• Alterations

Colour Variations
The beauty of the natural rock depends upon the colour index. A pleasing colour
of the ornamental stone will immediately gain customer acceptance. Uniform
and attractive colour will have a good demand in the stone trade. However,
irregular colour variations in rock deposits constitute a major defect. These are
due to the presence of accessory minerals, macro and micro discontinuities,
intrusives, inclusions, alterations, etc.
In architectural and structural designs, uniform colour is an important
determinant. The common colours are red, green, yellow, blue, purple. Colour
saturation is an important factor. Generally, saturated colours of individual
minerals exhibit combinations of colours. It has been observed that undesired
irregular colours present themselves under saturated coloured matter. The degree
of brightness also depends upon the overall colour index of the rock. The
minerals quartz, orthoclase, plagioclase, augite, diopside, bronzite, enstatite and
hypersthene, hornblende, biotite, muscovitemica and pyrite influence the colour
causing variations in commercial rock deposits.

Quartz: Quartz generally shows white or grey colour. In rare cases quartz shows
blue colour due to the presence of titanium oxide and other liquid or gas
inclusions. In commercial granites and other quartz-rich rocks, the rock is
colourless, white or grey. In granophyres, quartz forms phenocryst. In a few
rocks, it forms phenocryst and brings undesired colour variations.

Orthoclase and Microcline: Orthoclase usually shows white or pink colour.

Microcline shows various other colours. Pink orthoclase feldspar in most of the
commercial granites of Karnataka enhances the beauty. Pink or red hues in
orthoclase are mainly due to disseminated ferric oxides. Pink granites have a
good demand in the international stone industry. Ruby red, Imperial red, Chilly
red, Flesh red, Blood red, Ilkal red, Belgundi red, Magadi pink, Rosy pearl, Pink
panther granites, Porphyritic granites are some examples of Karnataka showing
attractive pink colour due to the presence of pink orthoclase feldspar. Syenites
show a dull colour, due to less percentage of vitreous quartz minerals. Alteration
of orthoclase in some of the commercial rocks shows colour variations.

Plagioclase Feldspar: Plagioclase feldspars are isomorphous mixtures of albite

and anorthite. Labradorite and bytownites are important mineral constituents of
gabbros and diorites, anorthite in anorthosites. Plagioclase shows white or light
colours. In rare cases calcium feldspars show a black colour. Common
alterations of plagioclase are sericite, epidote, calcite, albite, chlorite etc. These
show variations in colour index of plagioclase rich rocks.

Augite and Diopside: Augite, diopside, hedenbergite are important minerals of

basic igneous, hypabyssal rocks such as gabbro, dolerites. Augite generally
shows dark green to black colour. Alterations of augite, diopside show colour

Bronzite, Enstatite (MgSiO3) Hypersthene: These minerals occur in peridotites,

pyroxenites, norites, basalts and andesite rocks. Low iron rich variety like
enstatite shows a pale green colour. Hypersthene shows a brownish green to dark
brown colour. Iron rich hypersthene marks colour contrast in rocks.

Hornblende (Fe, Mg, Al Silicate): Hornblende is an important rock forming

mineral in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Volcanic rocks contain small
proportions of hornblende. Hornblende shows dark green, dark brown and black
colours. The dark brown colour of hornblende is due to the presence of titanium.
Hornblende alters to chlorite, calcite, limonites and shows undesired colour

Biotite, Phlogopite, Muscovite Mica: Biotite occurs in syenites, diorites and

other rocks. Biotite shows brown, dark green and black colours. Phlogopite
exhibits pale yellow to brown colour, muscovite exhibits shades of grey and
green. Biotite occurs in most of the commercial igneous rocks and the colour is
stable. Biotite is more susceptible to weathering unlike other iron magnesium
silicate minerals. Muscovite is also a stable mineral and more resistant than
biotite mica.

Pyrite: Pyrite is widespread and commonly occurs as a very minor mineral in all
types of commercial rocks. In igneous rocks, pyrite occurs as an accessory
mineral. Pyrite shows a brass yellow colour. It constitutes a very small
percentage in most of the commercial granite deposits. Oxidized pyrite shows a
brownish/yellowish tinge on the surface of the rock deposits.

Garnet: Garnet too is widespread and commonly occurs in most of the

metamorphic rocks. Garnet shows light brown to dark ground colours. These
minerals do not take uniform polish and alter to chlorides. Few metamorphic
rocks having garnet minerals are not processed for export.
Colour index of the commercial rocks mainly depends upon the colour
index of the predominant minerals. Generally, acid igneous rocks with an
average silica percentage value from 70 to 90 per cent show light colour
combinations. Alterations, presence of undesired mafic minerals in commercial
granites bring down the quality, as a consequence of which deposits are not
acceptable in the stone industry.
Commercial granites of Karnataka occur either as sheet rocks or boulders.
Sheet rock deposits rarely show colour variations. It is mainly because the
surface area exposed for solar radiation is very less. Boulder granite deposits are
more exposed to solar radiation and thermal weathering, this leads to alteration,
which results in colour variation.

Textural Characters
Texture refers to the degree of crystallinity, grain size and geometrical
relationship between the constituents of rocks. Textural characters of commercial
rock deposits, collected from several quarries in Karnataka have been analysed
systematically. It is inferred that textural characters mostly depend on the
constituent minerals and mode of formation of the rock deposit. Textural
characters in most of the commercial granites of Karnataka enhance the beauty
of the deposit.
Textural variations will reduce the quality of the rock deposit. Porphyritic
granites exhibit textural and colour combinations, enhancing the attractive
appearance. Some black granites (dolerite, etc.) with defective textures are not
acceptable in the stone market.
Gneisses show deformational layers. They include regular, irregular and
folded bands as well as nebulous patterns with clots of patches of dark minerals
strewn in groundmass. These defective textural characters are found in most of
the metamorphic rocks in Karnataka and represent the banded layers. These
characteristics make the rock unacceptable for export.

Structural Discontinuities
In nature, no rock deposit is perfectly continuous. Natural structural
discontinuities are formed in rock deposits due to tectonic conditions. Besides,
joints, fractures, major or micro faults, folds, etc., are formed as a consequence
of geotectonic events. Megastructures in natural rocks make valuable deposits
worthless. Megadiscontinuities are explained with systematic structural mapping
of the rock deposit. In Karnataka, majority of the leased areas are limited due to
the government, leasing rules and regulations. The extent available is not
sufficient for carrying out the systematic study of megadiscontinuities. Intensity
and nature of discontinuities depend upon the origin, nature, homogeneity and
heterogeneity of the rock mass. Regional structural trends are a forerunner to the
exploitation of rocks for commercial utilization.

Microdiscontinuities are not directly visible to the naked eye but can be seen on
polished surfaces. Few specimens at quarry sites, show the development of
microhairline fractures. Systematic petrographic analyses of selective rock
samples revealed stresses caused by microfractures in minerals. It is possible to
delineate stress deposit and stressfree deposit through systematic studies.
Microdiscontinuities are major defects in commercial granites. Systematic
micropetrographic analyses will be useful for the determination of micro
fractured minerals in commercial rock deposits before exploitation.

Intrusives constitute major defects in commercial rock deposits. The major
intrusives are quartz, feldspar, pegmatite, epidote veins, reefs and the basic
intrusive, etc.

Quartz Veins: Quartz veins and reefs are common intrusives in Karnataka
commercial rock deposits. Quartz veins traverse in NW-SE in Koppal district,
parts of Bagalkot, Gulbarga, Tumkur, Dakshina Kannada, etc. In field
investigation, it is observed that a few quartz reefs displaced the mineral
constituents of commercial granites. In such conditions, the workability pattern
of the deposit is required to be altered.

Feldspar, Pegmatite, Aplite, Epidote Veins: These veins and reefs have intruded
in few quarry deposits in Karnataka. It is possible to trace them, in initial
geological mapping of the commercial rock deposits. In few quarries workability
pattern is modified/altered due to these intrusives. In the stone trade industry,
these intrusives are considered as major defects.

Dykes/Dolerite/Amphibolite/Gabbros: Dykes are tabular intrusions of magma

into primary rocks that cut across the structure of the older rock formations.
Dykes are formed due to the injection of magma into the fracture system of
existing country rocks. Small tabular dykes occurring in sets or rings influence
the walls of the original commercial rock deposits. Larger dimension
dykes/dolerite/gabbro/norite/amphibolites are being exploited in parts of
Kanakapura, Ramanagaram, Magadi, Tumkur, Bangalore, etc. Gabbro/dolerite
dykes are extensively distributed in parts of Tumkur, Chamarajanagar districts.
These dykes extend mostly in NW–SE directions. In parts of Koppal district,
intersection of dykes are also observed in selective locations. All dyke rocks are
commercially called ‘Black granites’. Dolerites have a high demand in the
international stone market.

Inclusions in commercial grade deposits are considered as major natural defects.
Inclusions in rock deposits appear as irregular patches, angular, subangular or
rounded. Inclusion size may range from a few centimetres to several hundred
metres. Inclusions result due to the detached walls of the magma chamber and
freeze into the resulting igneous rocks. Common inclusions in natural rocks are:
(a) Xenolith (b) Segregations (c) Schlleren.
Xenolith: Xenolith inclusions are derived from rocks which are totally unrelated
to the igneous rocks. Few commercial deposits contained inclusions of
sandstones in granites. In the commercial stone industry, xenolith inclusions are
treated as rejected stones. In such instances, workability practices are also
required to be altered for the removal of defective rocks from defectless rock
deposits in the same quarry/sheet rocks/outcrops.

Segregations: Segregations are rounded or irregular shaped waves in rock

deposits. Their sizes are of a few centimetres. In a few rock deposits in parts of
Kanakapur, Ramanagaram, Magadi, Bangalore, Koppal there are segregations in
hornblende granite/gneisses. Excess hornblende clots in commercial granite
deposits affect the quality of the deposit. Generally, architects/structural
engineers do not prefer these rocks for exterior decoration.

Schliers: Schliers are irregular flow layers in rocks. Schliers show darker or
lighter colours than the enclosing rocks. Schlier alterations show varied colours
in a few rock deposits in parts of Karnataka. In a few quarries, workability of the
commercial deposits are affected due to the presence of irregular flow layers.
These are major natural defects in commercial rock deposits.
Accessory Minerals
Commercial granite deposits generally contain accessory minerals in small
proportions. Few quarry commercial deposits of Tumkur, Porphyry/Pink
porphyritic granite, Magadi pink granite/Pink equigranular granite, Magadi grey
granite/Grey equigranular granite, Ocean white granite/Leuco granite, Tippu
white granite, Hassan green granite/Metagabbro generally consist of more or less
a small percentage of accessory minerals like calcite, hornblende, biotite,
muscovite mica, epidote, iron-sulphides, etc. However, an excess percentage of
accessory minerals is observed in a few commercial deposit quarters. Tippu
white granite/Leuco granite with the presence of garnet is considered as
defective deposit. In a few quarries, the dominance of hornblende and biotite
minerals brings down the quality of the deposit. Quarry owners must take
precautionary measures before the exploitation of rocks for commercial
applications (Venkat Reddy, 1994).

Contact Zones
Contact zone is another natural defect in commercial rock deposit, which plays
an important role in quarrying and exploitation of rock deposits. Contact zones
of rocks are always considered as a weak plane. The contact of the intrusive rock
deposits shows changes in colour, textural characters, mineralogical, chemical
variations. These changes primarily depend upon the nature of the country rock
and invaded magma or lava. Few quarry deposits in parts of Karnataka have
been studied. Tumkur porphyritic granite deposits are influenced by the
intrusions of dolerite/gabbro dykes. In a few quarries the contact boundaries of
leucogranite, prophytitic granites show gradation colour, textural as well as
mineralogical characters. In some quarries in parts of Chamarajnagar districts,
banded iron formations, quartzites show marked colour and textural,
mineralogical, chemical variations. Contact zones in commercial rock deposits
reduce the quality of contact zones in rock deposits (Kotta Reddy et al., 1991).

Minerals are capable of alterations under the influence of ambient conditions
(temperature and pressure). Alteration of minerals in rocks changes the physical
and chemical properties. Altered minerals distort the binding capacity, which
leads to a decrease in strength. It is further observed in selective quarries in
Karnataka that alterations are more pronounced along the bedding planes, joints,
fractures, contact zones and shear zones. It is further analysed that altered
minerals are spread over larger areas in commercial rock deposits, making them
unsuitable for commercial utilization. In most of the granites, altered feldspars,
amphiboles, micas, etc., result in the formation of a dull colour and lustre. In a
few instances, some polished surfaces of ornamental rocks show flaky, brown
coloured pits. Micropetrographic analysis helps to determine the extent of the
altered minerals in rocks.
The quality assessment of ornamental rock deposits depends on all the
above-mentioned factors. Defects in the commercial rock deposits adversely
affect the quality (Chandrasekhar, 1992).

▆ New Findings/Achievements
Karnataka state is a pioneer in the commercial exploitation of
ornamental/dimensional rock deposit resources. The state of Karnataka produces
a few premium varieties like ruby red, black and popular multicoloured varieties.
The demand for the premium varieties is generally steady in the international
market while the demand for other varieties, which are mainly used in the
construction industry, fluctuates depending on the changing tastes of the users.
There is an increasing emphasis on new colours and designs (GSI, 1999).
Geomorphological investigations have indicated that the availability of
commercial rock deposits is about 217 million m3, in the districts of Bangalore,
Mysore, Tumkur, Chamarajnagar, Kolar, Bellary, Raichur, Koppal, Bagalkot,
Hassan, Chickmagalur and Dakshina Kannada (GSI, 1999).
Representative samples of the entire commercial rock deposits have to be
processed and polished for better understanding of the colour and textural
characters. Quality assessment technique process has been developed for a
systematic evaluation of the natural defects in commercial rock deposits.

▆ Conclusion
In our country, quarry owners, entrepreneurs and organizations are investing in
commercial stone industry with very little or sometimes no knowledge about the
quality assessment techniques of natural rock deposits.
The success of the commercial stone industry solely depends upon
defectfree rock/stone blocks. Natural defects in rock deposits adversely affect the
quality of the deposit. Exploration techniques for the evaluation of natural
defects in commercial rock deposits vary from deposit to deposit and from area
to area. Thus, one should have a systematic evaluation before taking up mining.

Descriptive Questions
1. What are rocks? How can they be broadly grouped? Discuss the importance of rocks in civil
and mining engineering.
2. What is texture? What are the uses of textures of igneous rocks? What the factors for formation
are of textures in igneous rocks? Add a typical examples of textures of few igneous rocks.
3. Define and explain the following terms:
(a) Granularity
(b) Subhedral
(c) Equigranular texture
(d) Inequigranular texture
(e) Granitic texture
(f) Porphyritic texture
(g) Ophitic texture
(h) Allotriomorphic texture
(i) Panidiomorphic texture
4. Describe with neat sketches the primary structures of igneous rocks. Discuss their importance.
5. Write short notes on:
(a) Laccolith
(b) Lopolith
(c) Phacolith
(d) Dykes
(e) Batholith
6. What are igneous rocks? How are they formed? Describe in detail various methods of
classification of igneous rocks. Add a detailed note on engineering significance of igneous
7. Describe the mineralogical composition, textural characters, petrogenesis, geological and
geographical distribution, economic and engineering significance of the following rocks:
(a) Pink Granite
(b) Dolerite
(c) Pink porphyry
(d) Basalt
(e) Gabbro
(f) Syenite
8. What are sedimentary rocks? How are they formed? Describe in detail the classification of
sedimentary rocks. Add a note on the engineering and economic significance of sedimentary
9. Descibe the mineralogical composition, textural characters, petrographical, geological,
geographical distribution, economic and engineering significance of the following rocks:
(a) Red sandstone
(b) Limestone
(c) Shale
10. What are metamorphic rocks? How are they formed? Describe the structures of metamorphic
rocks. How are metamorphic rocks classified? Add a detailed note on the distribution and
economic and engineering significance of metamorphic rocks.
11. Write short notes on:
(a) Regional metamorphism
(b) Schistose structure
(c) Gneissose structure
(d) Granulose texture
12. Distinguish between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks on the basis of composition,
texture petrographical, geological, geographical distribution. List the typical rocks of each
group. Add a detailed note on their economic and engineering significance.
13. Enumerate the general requirements of ornamental building stones. Add a note on the Indian
stone industry. Why are Indian granites/commercial stones loosing their commercial
significance in the international stone industry?
14. What are the natural/inherent defects in commercial rock deposits? How quality assessment
techniques are involved in the evaluation of commercial rock deposits? Add a note on the
Indian stone industry.
15. Enumerate the requirements of stones utilized for
(a) Foundation
(b) Road metal
(c) Railway ballast
(d) Concrete aggregates

Supplementary Questions
16. What is a rock?
17. What is an igneous rock?
18. What is sedimentary rock?
19. What is metamorphic rock?
20. What is meant by CIPW classification?
21. What is dyke?
22. Name the plutonic equivalent of basalt.
23. What are secondary rocks?
24. What are primary rocks?
25. What are acid rocks?
26. What are essential minerals in rocks?
27. Name the concordant and discordant bodies in igneous rocks.
28. What are endogenetic and exogenetic rocks?
29. List the over saturated, undersaturated and saturated rocks.
30. How can you distinguish between leucocratic rock, mesocratic rock and melonocratic rock?
31. Name the plutonic equivalent of rhyolite.
32. What are the essential minerals of granite?
33. How can you distinguish between dolerite, dunite and gabbro?
34. How can you distinguish between a conglomerate from breccia?
35. What are abundant sedimentary rocks in the earth crust?
36. Shale is predominantly composed of what minerals?
37. List the important monumental structures built with sedimentary rocks in India.
38. Red fort/Lal Qilla is constructed with what type of stones?
39. The Taj Mahal is built with what types of rocks?
40. List the trade names of much preferred stones.
41. What is meant by black granite in stone industry?
43. Why vesicular basalts are not preferred in international stone market?
43. What is meant by exterior and interior decorative stones? Name few of them.
44. What is meant by AIGSA and STONA?
45. What is the future scope Indian stone market?
Chapter 5

Structural Geology
Learning Objectives

➠ mode of occurrence of rock units

➠ process of folding
➠ process of faulting
➠ dynamics of joints
➠ dynamics of unconformity
➠ criteria for recognition of faults and unconformities in the field

Sedimentary rocks occupy a great volume of the earth’s crust. Sedimentary rocks
are formed in a sequential order. These rocks are also called layered rocks. The
structural features of the rock bodies play a vital role in shaping the rock units.
Structural features control the migration of ground water, oil and gas and natural
minerals. Structural geology mainly deals with the mode of occurrence of rock
Strike and dip: The strike of a bed is its general trend measured on a horizontal
surface. In other words, strike is defined as the direction of a line formed by the
intersection of the bedding and a horizontal plane.
The dip of an exposed bedding stratum is the angle between the bedding
and a horizontal plane. The dip of a formation is measured in a vertical plane
that is at right angles to the strike of the formation. Strike and dip of a formation
are shown in Figs. 5.1 and 5.2.
SS = Strike direction
Dd = Dip direction
Da = Dip amount

Fig. 5.1. Strike direction

During geological processes, the rocks are subjected to stresses which result in
undulations that are wavy. These wavy undulations are called folds. Fold size
varies from a few centimetres to several kilometres.

SS = Strike direction
TD = True dip amount
AD1, AD2, AD3, AD4 = Apparent dip amount

Fig. 5.2. Strike and dip direction

▆ Parts of a Fold

The hinge of a fold is the line of maximum curvature in a folded bed. There is a
hinge for each folded bed. Hinges are characterised by their position and

Axial Plane
The axial plane is the surface connecting all the hinges. The axial plane may be a
simple or a curved surface. However, the axial plane divides the fold into two
equal halves as symmetrically as possible. Parts of a fold are shown in Figs. 5.3
a and 5.3 b.

The axis is a line parallel to the hinge. It is the straight line moving parallel to
itself that generates the fold.

Limbs and Flanks

Limbs are the sides of a fold. An individual fold consists of two limbs. A limb
extends from the axial plane in one fold to the axial plane in the next. In a series
of folds, every limb is mutually shared by two adjacent folds.

Fig. 5.3 a. Axial plane

Fig. 5.3 b. Parts of a fold

Plunge of the Fold

In most cases, the fold hinge is inclined in a horizontal direction and is called a
plunge. The angle of inclination of the fold axis with the horizontal is measured
as the plunge angle and direction.

Crest and Trough

Folds show up-arched and down-arched bends. However, the line running
through the lowest point is called a trough while the highest point is termed as a
a crest. The plane formed by all the crests is called the crest plane. The plane
connecting the lowest parts of the same bed in an infinite number of cross-
sectional lines is called the trough plane.

▆ Classification of Folds

An anticline is defined as a fold in which the convexity is upwards. In this type
of fold, older rocks are in the centre. The two limbs dip away from one another
at the crest (Fig. 5.4 a).

A syncline is a fold in which the convexity is downwards. Syncline is a Greek
word meaning inclined together. In this type of fold, younger rocks are in the
centre of the limbs and the limbs of this fold dip towards each other at the trough
(Fig. 5.4 b). Antiform and synform are the terms used when stratigraphic
successions in the field are not interpreted and only the shape of the fold is
described (Fig. 5.4 c).

A major anticline composed of smaller folds is called anticlinorium (Fig. 5.5 a).

This is a large syncline fold comprising many smaller syncline folds (Fig. 5.5 b).

The term geosyncline means an earth syncline. However, this term is not used
for the larger syncline. The term geosyncline is used for a large depression which
is hundreds of kilometres in length and tens of kilometres in width. Oceans are
considered geosynclines. Sedimentary rocks are formed from geosynclines.

Fig. 5.4 a. Anticline

Fig. 5.4 b. Syncline

Fig. 5.4 c. Antiform and synform

Fig. 5.5 a. Anticlinorium

Fig. 5.5 b. Synclinorium

Fig. 5.6 a. Symmetrical fold

Fig. 5.6 b. Asymmetrical fold

Fig. 5.6 c. Overtuned fold

Fig. 5.6 d. Recumbent fold

A geanticline is like a geosyncline in size but lies outside or inside it.

Symmetrical Fold
A symmetrical fold is one in which the axial surface is vertical (Fig. 5.6 a).

Asymmetrical Fold
An asymmetrical fold is one in which the axial surface is inclined (Fig. 5.6 b).

Overturned Fold
An overturned fold is one in which the axial plane is inclined and both limbs of
the fold dip in the same direction, with varying dip angles (Fig. 5.6 c).

Recumbent Fold
A recumbent fold is one in which the axial plane is essentially horizontal. Rock
strata in the inverted limb are generally thinner than the corresponding beds in
the normal limb (Fig. 5.6 d).

Isoclinal Fold
An isoclinal fold means equally inclined, wherein, the two limbs of the fold dip
at equal angles in the same direction (Figs. 5.7 a and 5.7 b).
Box Fold
A box fold is one in which the crest is flat and broad. However, two hinges are
present, one lying on either side of the flat crest (Fig. 5.8).

Fan Fold
A fan fold is one in which both limbs of the folds are overturned (Fig. 5.9).

Drag Fold
Drag folds develop when a hard bed slides past a weak or incompetent bed. Such
a situation favours the formation of asymmetric folds termed as drag folds.
However, the axial plane of the drag fold is inclined at an angle to the competent
bed strata (Fig. 5.10).

Open Fold
In an open fold, the rock constituents of a bed do not move, in other words no
flowage occurs.

Fig. 5.7 a. Isoclinal fold

Fig. 5.7 b. Inclined isoclinal fold

Fig. 5.8. Box fold

Fig. 5.9. Fan fold

Fig. 5.10. Drag fold

Fig. 5.11 a. Open fold

Fig. 5.11 b. Closed fold

Fig. 5.12. Chevron fold

Hence, beds are more or less uniform in thickness (Fig. 5.11 a).

Closed Fold
In a closed or tight fold, the rock constituents come out from the limbs of the
fold and gradually thicken at crests and troughs (Fig. 5.11 b).

Chevron Fold
A chevron fold is defined as a fold in which the hinges are sharp and angular
(Fig. 5.12).

A dome is described as an anticlinal uplift that has no distinct trend (Fig. 5.13 a).

A basin is described as a synclinal depression that has no distinct trend (Fig. 5.13

Causes of Folding
Folds are formed mainly due to
(1) a tectonic process
(2) a non-tectonic process.
Fig. 5.13 a. Dome

Fig. 5.13 b. Basin

Folds resulting from a tectonic process are formed mainly due to the forces
within the crustal layers of the earth. Folds resulting from a non-tectonic process
are formed mainly due to the geological process operating on the exposed
lithological formation, resulting in erosion, transportation and deposition of

Tectonic Processes
(a) Horizontal compression folds are formed due to a compressive force acting
parallel to the surface of the earth. However, the intensity of compressive
force decreases gradually below the crustal layers of the earth (Fig. 5.14).

Fig. 5.14. Folds produced due to horizontal compression

(b) According to the contraction theory, folds may be formed due to (1) cooling
of the earth materials (2) formation of denser materials within the earth (3)
intrusion of magma.

Continental Drift Theory

At present, many geologists have agreed upon the continental drift theory and
various hypotheses have been proposed in support of this theory. Rigid
continents are mobile over the surface of the earth. Sedimentary rocks crumble
to form folds.
Plate tectonics: A recent theory has been developed to explain continental drift,
sea floor spreading, folding and thrusting.

Non-tectonic Process
The geological processes operating on the surface of the earth are responsible for
the formation of non-tectonic folds. For instance, weathered strata liberated from
hill slopes accumulate as hillside waste; creeping of the strata results in the
formation of a folded structure of rock materials.
Some folds are formed due to compaction of differential sedimentation.
Glacial activity and solution activity also favour the formation of folds.

Civil Engineering Considerations: It is very important to investigate folded

strata in the field. Due to folding, a rock crumbles and shatters the rock
formation. Fold axes are considered as weak planes. However, it is very difficult
to determine the position of the bed field. Palaeontological methods and analyses
of primary structures such as ripple marks, cross bedding, graded bedding and
pillow structures help in ascertaining the top of beds and their orientation. In
civil engineering constructions, such as large-scale hydraulic structures,
tunnelling and landsides, folded strata create engineering problems. The
importance of folds and possible engineering problems encountered during civil
engineering works are discussed in Chapters 12, 15, 16 and 17, which deal with
dams and reservoirs, site investigation techniques, tunnelling and land slides.
The relevant case studies are discussed in these chapters.

Faults are described as natural ruptures along which the opposite walls have
moved with respect to each other. Fractures are the result of stresses and
shearing; the rocks gradually generate fractures along the direction of these
forces. Faulting results due to fracturing in which the rock blocks move up and
down towards each other. Some faults are considered microfaults, whose length
can be measured in a few centimetres or a few millimetres. However, major
faults vary in size from a few kilometres to thousands of kilometres in length. A
recent plate tectonic study revealed that intercontinental faults run along the
major stress zones of the world.

▆ Parts of a Fault
The different parts of fault have been shown in Fig. 5.15.
(a) Fault Plane: The surface along which the fracture occurs in the rock mass
and along which the movement of rock blocks take place is called a fault
(b) Hanging wall: In an inclined fault plane the upper surface of the fault plane
is called the hanging wall.
(c) Footwall: In an inclined fault plane the lower surface of the fault is known
as the footwall.
(d) Strike: The strike of a fault refers to the trend of the horizontal line in the
plane of the fault.
(e) Dip and Hade: The dip of a fault is the angle between the horizontal surface
and the plane of the fault, whereas, hade is defined as the angle between the
fault plane and the vertical plane that strikes parallel to the fault.

Fig. 5.15. Parts of a normal fault

(f) Slip: The term slip is used for measuring relative displacement of formerly
adjacent points on opposite sides of the fault and is measured in the fault
(g) Net slip: Net slip is the total displacement of the fault surface between two
formerly adjacent points located on opposite walls of the fault (Fig. 5.16 a).
(h) Dip slip: The dip slip is the component of the net slip measured parallel to
the dip of the fault plane (Fig. 5.16 b).

Fig. 5.16 a. Net slip

Fig. 5.16 b. Dip slip

Fig. 5.17. Rake, throw and heave plunge

(i) Rake: This is defined as the angle which a line in a plane forms with the
horizontal line in that plane (Fig. 5.17).
(j) Throw: Throw is defined as the vertical distance between any two points
formerly in contact with each other. Throw is measured for an inclined or
vertical fault. However, in a horizontal fault the throw will be zero (Fig.
(k) Heave: Heave is defined as the horizontal component of the dip separation.
It is measured only in a horizontal fault for in a vertical fault heave will be
zero (Fig. 5.17).
(l) Plunge: This is defined as the angle of inclination of the axis from the
horizontal (Fig. 5.17).

▆ Classification of Faults
Faults are classified on the basis of the movement of fault blocks, attitude of
adjacent bed, amount of dip, direction of net slip, occurrence of faults and so on.
Faults are broadly grouped into types based on geometric considerations and
genetic behaviour.

Geometric Classification of Faults

Faults are classified in the field on the basis of geometric factors, such as (a)
rake of the net slip (b) attitude of the fault relative to adjacent beds.

(a) Classification based on the rake of the net slips

Strike-slip fault: A strike-slip fault is a net slip in the direction of the strike of the
fault (Fig. 5.18). In such a fault the strike is thus equal to the net slip.

Fig. 5.18. Strike-slip fault

Hence, the dip-slip component is zero and the rake of the net slip is likewise

Dip-slip fault: A dip-slip fault is one in which the net slip is below or above the
dip of the fault plane (Fig. 5.19).
Fig. 5.19. Dip-slip fault

Diagonal-slip fault: One in which the net slip runs diagonally up or down the
fault plane (Fig. 5.20).

Fig. 5.20. Diagonal-slip fault

(b) Classification based on attitude of fault to attitude of adjacent formation

Bedding fault: One in which the strike of the fault is parallel to the bedding (Fig.

Fig. 5.21. Diagonal-slip fault

Longitudinal fault: One in which the strike of the fault is parallel to the strike of
the regional rock structure (Fig. 5.22).
Transverse fault: One in which the strike of the fault is diagonal or perpendicular
to the strike of the regional rock structure (Fig. 5.22).

Fig. 5.22. Logitudinal and transverse faults

Genetic Classification of Faults

Normal fault: One in which the hanging wall has moved downwards relative to
the footwall. This type of fault is also known as a gravity fault (Fig. 5.23).
Reverse fault: One in which the hanging wall has apparently moved upwards
relative to the footwall. The angle of inclination to the horizontal of a reverse
fault plane is less than 45° (Fig. 5.23). Such faults are also known as thrust
Strike-slip faults: Faults in which the displacement is parallel to the strike of the
fault (Fig. 5.23).

Fig. 5.23. Genetic classification of faults based on relative movements

▆ Criteria for Recognition of Faults

Faults are generally recognised in the field based on their effects on the adjacent
rock formation. Minor faults are observed in natural and artificial exposures such
as road and railway line cuts, open-cast and underground mines, tunnel
excavation, etc. Large faults are interpreted in the field mainly based on
physiographic and stratigraphic evidence.
The criteria for recognition of faults are discussed below under the
following headings:
(1) Dislocation and abrupt termination of structures
(2) Repetition or omission of beds
(3) Presence of slickensides, mylonite, etc.
(4) Silicification and mineralization
(5) Indirect evidence

Dislocation and Abrupt Termination of Structures

In the field, abrupt termination of the bedding planes may be due to faulting.
Field observations have shown that dislocated structures exhibit displacement in
the rock exposures. Dykes and veins are also dislocated due to faulting. Non-
conformities also dislocate the structures. Faults are observed in the field based
on other criteria as well (Figs. 5.18 to 5.22).

Repetition and Omission of Beds

The appearance of the same rock formation repetitively may indicate faulting.
The abrupt omission of beds in a particular direction is also due to faulting or
unconformity (Fig. 5.24).

Fig. 5.24. Repetition and omission of beds

Slickensides are formed due to friction along the surfaces of a fault in the form
of striations, which are more or less parallel to the direction of fault movement.
The presence of slickensides in rocks indicates faulting in the strata (Fig. 5.25).

Fig. 5.25. Slickensides

Mylonites are considered as microbreccia. They are formed due to the
deformation of rocks during faulting. However, in hand specimens of mylonite
show a slaty texture. Otherwise, mylonite exhibits a streaked or platy structure.

Breccias are considered as rudaceous rocks, subangular in size and shape with
varied mineralogical compositions. Due to faulting, crushed materials
accumulate in huge quantities.

Silicification and Mineralization

It has been observed that many mining districts are located in faulted zones.
Faulting creates large channels for movements of mineral solutions. However, in
subsequent periods these solutions are replaced by country rocks. This results in
silicification of the strata.

Indirect Evidence
The following factors are an indirect evidence of faulting:
(a) Rivers flow in a straight course in faulted zones.
(b) Old peneplain surfaces are seen at different levels.
(c) Straight scarps cut across various rocks and structures.
(d) Non-existence of alluvial cones along the base of scarps.
(e) Discordant profiles of streams.
(f) Hanging valleys of tributary streams.
(g) Traces of ancient river gravels in summit areas.
(h) Antecedent courses of streams flow over old land surfaces.
(i) Topographic and physiographic changes.
Recognition of faults in the field is a very hard task. It needs a careful study
of all possible exposed rock behaviour, physiographic changes, soil changes,
etc., all of which have to be taken into account. Faults in the field are detected
based on the criteria listed above.

Civil Engineering Consideration

Faults are considered to be weak planes. In large scale civil engineering
constructions, the presence of faults creates instability of strata. In dam or
reservoir construction and tunnel alignment, the presence of faults is a challenge
to the civil engineer. As mentioned earlier, detailed discussions of faulted zones
and their influence on structures are given in the later chapters.

Joints are fractures that form as a result of shear action or tension acting on a
rock formation. Unlike faults, joints do not show visible movements. The blocks
bound by joints are known as joint blocks. Joints vary in size from a few
millimetres to a few metres. Joints may occur as regular, irregular or curved.

▆ Causes of Joint Patterns

Joints are mainly caused due to the action of stress and strain on a rock mass.
Tension joints are formed due to drying and shrinking of sedimentary deposits,
mud cracks, folding or in igneous rocks by the contraction of magma. During
lava flows, in some instances, hexagonal joint patterns are formed due to
uniform contraction, equally spaced from one another. Such joint patterns have
developed in the Deccan basalts of our country.
In igneous rocks, the stress which develops due to shearing influences of
the primary rocks, overcomes the shear strength of the rock material, which
results in the formation of sets of joints.

Classification of Joints
Joints are classified on the basis of geometry and genesis.
Geometric Types of Joints
(a) Strike joints are those that strike in the same direction of the rock.
(b) Dip joints are those that strike parallel to the dip of the rock formation (Fig.
(c) Oblique or diagonal joints are those in which the strike of the joint makes an
inclined angle with the strike of the formation (Fig. 5.26).

Fig. 5.26. Geometrical classification of joints

Genetic Classification
(a) Shear joints are formed mainly due to shearing stresses originating during
folding and faulting of rock bodies.
(b) Tension joints are formed due to the effect of tensile stresses. The best
examples of this type are the columnar joints in the Deccan basalts.
Columnar Joints: Columnar joints are commonly found in volcanic lava flows,
sills and dykes. The columns are generally from a few metres to many metres in
diameter and several metres in length. Basaltic lava develops polygonal columns
known as columnar joints. Some of the columns are hexagonal, some are four or
five sided (Fig. 5.27).

Mural Joints: In igneous rocks and in granites three sets of joints (two vertical
and one horizontal) are developed more or less with equal spacing. These again
divide rock masses into cubic or mural blocks. Such a jointing pattern is called
mural jointing.
Fig. 5.27. Columnar joints

▆ Engineering Importance
A detailed discussion of the civil engineering importance of joints is given in
later chapters dealing with site investigation, dams and reservoirs, tunnels,
landslides, rock weathering and ground water. Joint pattern analysis is very
important in quarrying operations of building and dimension stones. Sandstone
and limestone joints are widely spaced and consequently yield large blocks of
rocks required for building and masonry construction.
Igneous and metamorphic rocks generally yield close joints. Huge block of
rocks are quarried along the joint pattern. A well-jointed rock mass is considered
a weak rock. In ground water investigation, particularly in hard rock terrains,
jointed strata regions are generally considered as probable sites for ground water
exploration. However, jointed strata in tunnel excavation create problems for the
roof and floor besides added ground water seepage problems. A joint pattern
study of the area has to be made. Strike frequency diagrams of the investigated
area give the general trend of the joint pattern of the region. These diagrams are
useful for various civil engineering applications.

An unconformity is defined as a surface of erosion or non-deposition that
separates the younger rock formations from the older rocks.

▆ Formation of Unconformity
Unconformities are developed in several stages. The primary stage is the
formation of old and stable rocks. These rocks are uplifted due to the tectonic
process. The exposed hard rocks are gradually exposed to atmospheric agents.
Rocks erode and consequently the weathered sediments and younger rocks
gradually deposit over older rocks. The line that separates the older rocks from
the younger rocks is known as the plane of unconformity.

▆ Types of Unconformity

Angular Unconformity
Angular unconformities develop due to the deposition of younger rock sediments
on the older rock formations. Older rock formations are steeply inclined. In some
conditions these beds are folded and faulted. The surface which separates the
two group of rocks is called the angular unconformity (Fig. 5.28).

Fig. 5.28. Angular unconformity

In this type, rock formations of beds which lie below and above the
unconformity are parallel. However, older rock formations will show neither
folding nor faulting (Fig. 5.29).

Local Unconformity
This is similar to disconformity but its extent is local in nature. This type of
unconformity is also termed regional unconformity.
Fig. 5.29. Disconformity

There are unconformities which are formed due to the geologic origin,
particularly rock formations underlying older rocks of plutonic origin, overlying
sedimentary or volcanic rocks (Fig. 5.30).

Fig. 5.30. Non-conformity

▆ Criteria for Recognition of Unconformities

Under favourable field conditions unconformities are recognized in the field.
However, in the majority of field conditions unconformities are not directly
traceable due to displacement of contact zones, weathering conditions and
intrusive bodies, which displace the general sequence of the beds. In such
conditions indirect observation of the associated rock structures, soil types, rock
types, fossil assemblages, etc., are helpful for the location of unconformities.
The following criteria are generally useful in the detection of unconformities in
the field.
(1) Presence of basal conglomerate at the contact zones.
(2) Discordance of bedding at the contact zones.
(3) Evidence of earlier eroded conditions of one rock formation mainly at the
contact zones.
(4) Faults in the rock formations are truncated by the other rock formations.
(5) Presence of large-scale intrusives, such as dykes, sills only in one age group
of the rocks and not in other adjacent rock formations.
(6) Folding and metamorphism are more pronounced in one rock formation
than in an adjacent rock formation.
(7) Abrupt changes in soil types and mineralogical changes in rocks compared
to the adjacent rock formation.
(8) Presence of fossils of both flora and fauna, which differ with both the rock


Descriptive Questions
1. What is meant by strike and dip of the formation? How are they measured in the field? How
can you distinguish between true dip and apparent dip? Discuss the importance of strike and
dip of the formations in engineering practice.
2. What are folds? How are they formed? Describe with neat sketches the different types of folds.
Add a detailed note on the engineering significance of folds with typical case in points.
3. Write short notes on:
(a) Syncline and Anticline
(b) Recumbent fold
(c) Drag fold
(d) Dome and Basin
4. What are faults? How are they formed? Describe with neat sketches the different classification
of faults. Discuss the engineering significance of faults with typical case in points.
5. Describe with a neat sketch the different parts of normal fault. Add a detailed note on the
recognition of faults in the field.
6. How would you distinguish between the following:
(a) normal fault and reverse fault
(b) strike fault and dip fault
(c) reverse fault and longitudinal fault
7. What are joints? How are they classified? How are joints formed? Add a detailed note on the
importance and significance of joints in the following:
(a) civil engineering works
(b) mining of commercial/ornamental rock deposits
(c) ground water exploration
(d) rock mass classification
8. What are unconformities? How are they classified? Add a detailed note on the recognition of
unconformities in the field. Add a note on the engineering significance of unconformities.
9. Write short notes on:
(a) columnar joints
(b) mural joints
(c) angular unconformity
(d) disconformity and non-conformity

Supplementary Questions
10. What is meant by true dip and apparent dip?
11. What is meant by hinge and plunge of fold?
12. What is a basin?
13. How do you distinguish between joint and fault?
14. How do you distinguish between longitudinal and transverse faults?
15. How can you distinguish between normal and reverse fault?
16. What are the indirect recognitions of hidden faults in the field?
17. How can you distinguish between angular unconformity and disconformity?
18. Distinguish between throw and heave.
19. Name the rocks which develop mural joints and sheet joints.
Chapter 6

Weathering of Rocks
Learning Objectives

➠ process of rock weathering

➠ different types of weathering
➠ products of rock weathering
➠ rock weathering and civil engineering practices

All rocks on the earth’s crust are subjected to weathering under the prolonged
action of atmospheric agents. Nothing can endure the fluctuating moods of the
weather. Even the hardest mineral and resistant rock crumbles or decays in the
course of geologic time. Rock weathering results from a series of processes
which produce changes in the physical and mineralogical nature of the rock
material. Weathering is defined as, the process of decay and decomposition of
rocks under the action of physical and chemical agents of the atmosphere.

The weathering process is one of the processes in rock degradation. The term
weathering process refers to the natural process of disintegration and
decomposition of rocks. Precipitation, wind, rivers, glaciers are some of the
agents which erode the rocks and the eroded/weathered rock generally remains
at the site where the rock has been weathered.
Effects of the weathering process on rocks are scarcely noticeable during
the human life span. Sediments and sedimentary rocks on the earth’s crust were
produced due to the weathering of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Sedimentary
rocks are the products of rock-weathering, which were transported and deposited
during cycles of geologic time. The rate of weathering depends on the nature of
the rocks and the types of weathering agents which operate upon them.
Agents of weathering: The principal agents of weathering are water, wind, gases
such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, temperature fluctuation, organisms, human
interference, environmental impact, etc.

▆ Types of Weathering
Weathering has been broadly classified as follows:
(1) Physical weathering
(2) Thermal weathering
(3) Mechanical weathering
(4) Chemical weathering
(5) Biological weathering

Physical Weathering
Physical weathering is caused by a variety of factors but the decisive role is
played by agents which cause mechanical movement of rock particles that
disturb the mechanical bond between the rock constituents. The process of rock
decomposition differs, depending on the factors involved. In some cases, rocks
disintegrate without the influence of any external mechanical agents. This
process, known as thermal weathering, includes change in the volume of rock
materials due to temperature fluctuations. In other cases, rocks disintegrate by
mechanical agents such as freezing of water, growing crystals, growing root
system and civil and mining excavations. This type of weathering is called
mechanical weathering.

Thermal Weathering
Diurnal temperature fluctuation plays a vital role in thermal weathering. Rocks
are natural aggregates of minerals. Temperature fluctuations cause non-uniform
heating and expansion of mineral grains within the rocks. Due to slow
penetration of thermal heat into the depth of a rock surface, parts of rocks
expand and contract as the rock cools. All parts of the rock materials do not
expand and contract at equal rates. When subjected to temperature changes,
stresses are caused which ultimately result in the formation of minor cracks
parallel to the heated surface. This process, called exfoliation, results in scaly
peeling off of the rock material. Polymineralic rocks are more susceptible to
thermal weathering than monomineralic rocks. Even for rocks of the same
mineral coefficient, the expansion factor differs. However, this depends on the
cystallographic faces exposed to solar radiation.
Talus: Thermal weathering is more intense on the steep slopes of high mountains
where the air is more aggressive. Rock fragments which have weathered are
removed slowly by gravity. Hence, surface slopes remain exposed and further
receive the accumulation of hillside waste or Talus at the foot of the mountain
Colluvium: Rock fragmental material derived from the destruction of the
bedrocks which have crept, rolls downhill under the action of gravity and is
deposited at the foot of the slope. This is called Colluvium.

Mechanical Weathering
Mechanical weathering is that process in which rocks are dislocated by the
mechanical action of external agents such as freezing of water, growth of
Freezing of water: Water expands about 9 per cent in volume when frozen.
Water molecules which enter the void spaces of rocks exert an enormous
pressure on the walls of the rocks. This force easily overcomes the tensile
strength of rocks breaking them into fragments. This phenomenon is called frost
action or frost wedging.

Chemical Weathering
Chemical weathering is a process of alteration of minerals whereby the primary
minerals (of primary rocks) are converted into new compounds. In a surface
environment, secondary minerals are stable. Metamorphic and sedimentary rocks
are also affected by chemical weathering. Chemical weathering is the result of
interaction between rocks of superficial layers of the lithosphere and chemically
active constituents of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere—oxygen,
carbon dioxide, water and organic acids. The effectiveness of these constituents
depends on the size of the rock particles and the composition of the rock. The
smaller the rock particles, the greater the surface area available for atmospheric
agents. Ferromagnesian minerals are highly susceptible to the chemical
weathering process. The processes involved in chemical weathering are
classified as: (1) oxidation (2) hydration (3) dissolution (4) hydrolysis.
Oxidation: Oxidation takes place in nature in the presence of free oxygen which
forms 21 per cent of the atmosphere. Air dissolved in water and free oxygen of
the atmosphere are the most active chemical reagents. Oxidation is highly
intense in the case of elements possessing different valencies. Low valency
ferrous compounds are converted to high-valency ferric hydroxides.
Ferromagnesian minerals readily undergo oxidation under surface conditions. In
the presence of free oxygen of the atmosphere and water, sulphides readily
change into sulphates, carbonates and oxides.
For example, oxidation of pyrites is shown as follows:

The oxidation process occurs in all ferromagnesian minerals, such as

olivines and pyroxenes. These minerals consist of ferrous iron, which rapidly
oxidises under atmospheric conditions producing ferric compounds with a brown
coating and the ferruginous limestones and sandstones show a brown

Hydration: Hydration involves the action of water on minerals. Water absorbed

by the minerals is liberated only upon complete destruction of the minerals.
Slow penetration of water molecules into the mineral matter increases its weight
and swelling and consequently stresses within the mineral increase. Well-known
examples of hydration occurring in the atmosphere are the alteration of anhydrite
to gypsum and hematite to limonite as shown below:

During the hydration process anhydrite is accompanied by intense swelling,

which produces a mechanical effect on the enclosing rock and results in a
gypsum-anhydrite series. Hematite in the presence of water molecules converts
into limonite.
Dissolution: Dissolution is the combined action of water and carbon dioxide on
rocks. Water is the most active chemical reagent because it always disassociates
into ions of H+. The hydrogen ion of water is the most powerful agent of
chemical weathering. The temperature factor plays a vital role in this process. If
the temperature rises from 0 to 30°C, disassociation of water becomes double.

Hydrolysis: The action of water and carbon dioxide causes the complex process
of hydrolysis. This process involves decomposition of minerals. The hydrolysis
process results in rearrangement of the mineral crystalline lattice, depending on
the change in composition of its constituent ions.
The most common example of hydrolysis is that of feldspar (orthoclase)
KAlSi3O8 + mCO2 + nH2O → Al4 (OH)8 (Si4O10) + SiO2nH2O + K2CO3
Chemical decomposition of alumino-silicates under the action of water and
CO2 proceeds along similar lines. In this process complete replacement of K, Na
and Ca cations takes place. Kaolin is the end product, which produces
aluminium hydroxides. Decomposition of ferromagnesian minerals is more
common in this process.

Biological Weathering
The weathering process related to the activities of microorganisms such as
bacteria as well as plants and animals is termed biological weathering.
Organic life plays an important role in the complex process of chemical
decomposition of minerals. Living organisms are considered permanent
geological agents. Biological activity is more intense at the upper parts of the
hydrosphere and at the boundary between the lithosphere and the atmosphere. It
gradually decreases in a downward direction. Plants can penetrate just a few
metres into the ground whereas microorganisms can penetrate to a greater depth
of 10 to 25 metres. Decay and disintegration of organic remains create organic
acids, which further decompose silicates and alumino-silicates and displace
cations from them.

▆ Weathering Pattern and Civil Engineering

The weathering rate and degree of weathering depends on (a) the texture and
structure of the rock mass (b) the closely spaced fractures or other discontinuities
on the larger surface area exposed to the agents of weathering. Faulted zones
tend to advance the process of weathering. Rock material is crushed and rock
blocks are broken into fragments.
Weathering leads to changes in the microstructures of the rock materials. It
also results in changes in the engineering properties of the rock materials. Fine-
grained and compact rock materials have a greater resistance to weathering
agents than does a coarse-grained uncompacted rock mass.
The weathering process also depends on the composition of rock materials.
All minerals do not undergo equal weathering, some resist weathering while
others readily undergo disintegration. A careful study of the stability of minerals
confirmed the series of sequential rate of weathering in them. The stability of
common rock-forming minerals with respect to weathering decomposition is
presented in Table 6.1
Table 6.1. Idealized Sequential Weathering Grades

Completely weathered rock materials (CWRM)

Highly weathered rock materials (HWRM)
Moderately weathered rock material (MWRM)
Partially weathered rock material (PWRM)
Increasing depth Hard rock (HR)

For instance, rocks forming under the same genesis show more or less the
same structural and textural characters while divergent compositions of minerals
behave unequally under the prolonged action of weathering. For instance, gabbro
is a plutonic rock showing equigranular texture, with plagioclase feldspars,
augite and olivine as essential minerals. During the process of weathering,
olivine, augite and calcic plagioclase weather more rapidly than a granite rock
formed under the same genesis and textural characters while having a dissimilar
mineral composition.
Rocks of the same composition with dissimilar genetic and textural
behaviour also exhibit unequal weathering. For instance, gabbro and basalt
possess the same mineral composition but are formed under divergent genetic
conditions. Gabbro is formed under plutonic conditions with equigranular
features whereas, basalt is formed under volcanic conditions with fine-granular
texture. Gabbro erodes faster than basalt even though the two are of the same
composition. This is due to the compactness of the mineral grains. Even the
same basalt rock is more stable with respect to weathering than granite. This is
mainly due to the textural and structural behaviour of the rock material.
Table 6.1 shows the stability of minerals in relation to depth. This
sequential order is related to the Bowen reaction series. The weathering pattern
is the most important geological factor in civil engineering operations. It is
necessary for civil engineers to study the site based on observations of
weatherability. It is evident that more weathered rocks occur at the surface since
weathering gradually decreases when progressively moving downwards. If we
observe the core samples from boreholes, most often the following sequential
order of weathering grades becomes evident (idealized in Table 6.1).
Samples from different boreholes of the same strata often exhibit different
weathering grades. This is mainly due to structural discontinuities.

▆ Weathering Products
Rock weathering ultimately leads to the formation of soil. The nature and
composition of the soil depends mainly on the parent rock materials. All rock
materials do not undergo the weathering process equally. This depends on
climatic, genetic, textural, compositional and other factors.

Fig. 6.1. Weathering Products of Common Rock-forming Silicate Minerals (after Loughnan, 1969)

All rock-forming minerals except quartz will weather and ultimately form
clay minerals (Beavis, 1985). Loughnan (1969) studied in detail the weathering
of all silicate minerals (Fig. 6.1). Silicate minerals are responsible for the
formation of igneous rocks. Fig. 6.1 shows the weathering products of common
rock forming silicate minerals.

▆ Rock Weathering and Civil Engineering Practices

The degree, extent and nature of rock weathering are among the most important
geological factors to be considered during civil engineering constructions. The
design and construction of civil engineering projects, methods of tunnelling,
slope stability and construction materials are all influenced by the process of
weathering. During site investigation, it is necessary to prepare detailed
weathering maps of the region. In some field conditions it may be necessary to
explore the subsurface region through geophysical surveys for determination of
the thickness of the weathered zone. Geophysical data has to be documented for
future utilization.
Test boring should be conducted in selected sites to confirm the weathered
zone thickness. Subsurface geological cross-sections are to be prepared on the
basis of geophysical and drilling data. In some field conditions subsurface
features not encountered in either the geophysical survey or test drilling can be
identified during the construction stage. In such a situation, suitable methods can
be adopted depending on the field conditions.

▆ Rock Weathering and Dams and Reservoirs

A dam foundation generally requires hard rocks. An arch dam foundation
requires fresh hard rocks. Mass gravity, buttress dams require less weathered
rock materials. However, earth dams on rock foundations are almost invariably
constructed on weathered rock (Beavis, 1951).
The Engineering Geology Section of the Geological Survey of India
investigates major reservoir sites and recommended suitable geotechnical
measures to be adopted in highly weathered project sites. In some instances the
selected project site in a weathered zone had to be shifted to a less weathered
[Examples extracted from the Geological Survey of India: Engineering
Case Histories-—Miscellaneous Public. No. 29. Part I, 1975 with the permission
of the Director General, Geological Survey of India]


▆ Objective
The selection of a suitable, unweathered dam site in highly weathered, altered
rock formations.

▆ Geology of Dam Site in Brief

The Bijawar and younger Vindhyan formations are mainly exposed in the Obra
dam area. The river Rhine passes through a gorge curved across quartzites,
phyllites that are brecciated due to faulting along the Bijawar-Vindhyan contact.
Three alternative dam alignments were originally planned for dam construction.

▆ Exploration
In the exploration stage three sites I, II and III were shortlisted to select an
alternative, less weathered site for the dam. The dam sites I and II in the gorge
section were explored by drilling and confirmed with an overburden (in depth 25
to 30 m) in the river section. The bedrock in the area was highly weathered,
fractured and brecciated, comprising quartzites and banded hematite quatzites
belonging to the Bijawar formations. After studying these sites in detail, they
were abandoned due to geological and geotechnical problems. The third site was
selected for dam construction. On this site highly cavernous Kajrahat limestone
was found. Solution cavities were discovered in these limestone formations that
were formed as a result of chemical weathering.

▆ Engineering Problems and Remedial Measures

Intensive geological, geophysical and geotechnical explorations were carried out
to select the site III for dam construction. This site also gave rise to a two-fold
problem: settlement of foundation structures and leakage of reservoir foundation
through the left and right rims of the reservoir. Extensive geotechnical measures
were carried out for the treatment of reservoir leakage.

▆ Conclusions
This case study clearly illustrates the impact of weathering conditions on dam
site selection. In addition, this study also suggests that the civil engineering
structures, which are built on cavernous limestones will have an impact on the
structure of the construction, hence, treatment of these problems is required.
Dam constructions on limestone rock formations require additional care in
establishing cavernous nature and their extent. In some geological conditions,
structures built without establishing their presence and extent lead to settling of
structures. Chemical weathering leads to the formation of caverns in limestone.
Weathering pattern and depth of weathered zone requires a detailed study before
planning for major hydraulic structures in highly weathered formations.


▆ Objective
To establish the rock weathering conditions in the Parambikulam Aliyar project
in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu. This project comprised eight storage tanks,
four interconnecting tunnels and 521 km long contour canal. Weathering
problems were encountered during the construction of this project.

▆ Geology for Project and Tunnel Region

The project area forms part of the Western Ghats and the rock types are biotite
gneisses and charnockites of Archaean. The major foliation trend of gneisses is
ENE-WSW. Prominent joint patterns are found in the direction of NNW-SSE,
ENE-WSW and E-W. The rocks are tightly folded and faulted. Excavation in the
riverbed exposed a major shear zone close to the right, dipping at about 70°
towards the right abutment. This shear zone extends continuously from the axis
to the toe of the dam and further downstream into the tailing foundations with
varying width. Highly fractured and weathered rock clayey materials and
infillings along the fracture planes constitute the shear zones. Laterites, found at
higher elevations of the dam site, also suggest the extent of weathering
conditions of the region.

▆ Geotechnical Problems
Highly weathered, fractured and sheared zones facilitated the seepage through
these zones during the excavation. Shear zones were excavated according to the
formula depth and were filled back with concrete, besides grouting. The
extension of weathering below 18 m depth at the left flank of the Sholayar dam
necessitated the change in the alignment and design of the dam.

▆ Conclusions
Deep weathering conditions and extensive lateritizations on the higher elevated
regions in the project presented problems in the selection of the dam site, the
type of structure and its design. This case study also confirms the impact and
extent of deep weathering and influence of lateritization process on the design
and type of dam construction. Weathering pattern in civil engineering
constructions requires an in-depth analysis before designing the hydraulic/civil
engineering structures.
[Case histories extracted from GSI–Engineering Misc. Pub. No: 29, Part I,
with the permission of the Director General of GSI].

▆ Rock Weathering in Tunnels and Underground Excavations

In a tunnel and an underground power station, design and construction depend
on the type of rocks. A deep weathering condition creates serious problems in
the roof and floor of a tunnel. In such a situation it is necessary to confirm the
depth of weathering for implementation of suitable remedial measures.
Weathering is one of the important geological factors for excavation of a tunnel.
Let us examine a few case studies of Indian tunnels.
(1) Sheeting due to weathering has been reported from the Headrace tunnel,
Yamuna project, Stage II, Part II, Dehradun, Uttranchal. The excavated
tunnel is about 5.6 km in length, 54.33 sq m section area. The main rock
types are quartzites and slates. Highly weathered and shattered rocks have
been encountered. Suitable remedial measures have been adopted.
(2) Highly weathered gneisses and schists with flowing ground conditions,
heavy seepage and roof collapse along weathered jointed intersections have
been reported from the main tunnel of the Rammam Hydroelectricity
Project, Darjeeling, West Bengal. Highly weathered and sheared rocks were
encountered during the excavation of the 3.25 km long tunnel with a 6.5 sq
km D-shaped tunnel. Various remedial measures were adopted and the
water is now conducted through twin penstocks to the powerhouse,
utilizing a gross head of 516 m to generate 25 MW of power.
(3) Along the tunnel alignment an overburden varying in thickness to a
maximum of about 23 m was observed in the Bommanhalli tunnel,
Shimoga, Karnataka. The rock types are weathered meta-greywackes and
are associated with bands of phyllite and intruded by dolerite dykes. The
building of a 9.45 km long and 7.9 m horseshoe tunnel posed adverse
geological problems. Much time was spent in tracking the weathered and
sheared zones and a special type of machinery was deployed for tunnelling
the weathered, sheared, soft zones. These conditions delayed the
completion of the tunnel.

▆ Weathering and Hill Slope Stability

The weathering of rock materials along a hill slope gradually reduces the
stability of the slope. Stability of a slope reduces with structural openings. In
certain areas differential erosion along hill slopes activates rock sliding.
Every year the highway network in the Himalayan regions of the country
sustains damages at hundreds of locations due to the incidence of landslides, big
and small (Rao J.P., 1988).
The Central Road Research Institute has been studying landslide
phenomena since the 1960s. This organization has already investigated more
than 200 landslides, mainly in the Himalayan and other hill ranges of the
The recent Shiwalik landslides were due to varying degrees of weathering
of cementing materials of the sandstones.
The hill slope rock materials of Nainital consist of highly weathered slates
with various sets of joints.
In the Western Ghats several landslides have occurred due to extensive
weathering followed by deepseated fracturing. Such landslides are observed in
the Nilgiri hills, Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra and Wynad region of Kerala.
Landslides on Ghat Road 11, Tirumala hills, Andhra Pradesh, have occurred
due to weathering conditions. Weathered boulders are seen along the roadside
(Rao J.P., 1988).
Rock weathering is one of the most important engineering geological
factors in civil engineering. It is necessary to assess the degree and extent of
weathering in a given engineering site before the execution of civil engineering
works. Weathering of rocks depends on climatic factors, nature of the rock type,
landforms, etc. In civil engineering, site investigations of each area may differ
markedly. It is necessary to study the weathering phenomenon in detail before
the commencement of any major civil engineering work.


Descriptive Questions
1. What is meant by weathering of rocks? Describe in detail the types of rock weathering. Discuss
the weathering pattern of rocks in civil and mining engineering.
2. Describe in detail the physical, chemical and biological weathering of rocks. Add a detailed
note on weathering products. Discuss the importance of the assessment of weathering pattern
and its role in civil and mining engineering.
3. Discuss in detail the weathering process which influenced the foundations of the following
(a) Parambikulam Dam, Tamil Nadu
(b) Obra Dam Project, Uttar Pradesh
(c) Rihand Dam, Uttar Pradesh
4. How do the civil engineers determine the extent of weathering pattern of rocks in civil
engineering works? What precautionary measures are to be adopted during civil/mining
engineering works in highly weathered rock formations? Discuss few cases of weathering
pattern impact on engineering projects.
5. Write notes on:
(a) Thermal weathering
(b) Mechanical weathering
(c) Chemical weathering

Supplementary Questions
6. What is meant by weathering of rocks?
7. Enlist the weathering agents of rock.
8. Which rocks are generally immune to chemical weathering?
9. Name the historical monuments which are under the process of industrial and chemical
weathering in our country.
10. Suggest typical rocks which can sustain atmospheric and industry polluted environment.
11. Which rocks are preferred as exterior decorative stones in highly industry polluted regions and
12. What is meant by biological weathering of rocks?
Chapter 7

Learning Objectives

➠ process of soil formation

➠ different types of soil deposits in India
➠ process of soil erosion and desertification
➠ measures used for soil conservation
➠ treatments used for saline and alkaline soils in India
➠ guidelines for soil surveying

In civil engineering applications, soil may be defined as a non-indurated
accumulation of solid particles, produced by the physical and/or chemical
disintegrations of bedrock, which may or may not contain organic life.
In geological applications, soil may be defined as a product of rock
weathering or as the physical disintegration and chemical decomposition of the
earth’s crust combined with small amounts of organic life.
In agronomical applications, soil may be defined as the uppermost
weathered layer of organic and inorganic earth materials formed through
physical and biochemical processes, which are capable of supporting plant life
and agricultural produce.

The natural process of soil formation is very slow. This process is due to the
operation of several factors. The important ones are:
(1) Original or parent rock material: Parent rock is the original material that is
exposed at the earth’s crust from which the soil is formed. Rocks exposed
on the surface undergo weathering, which in turn results in the breakdown
of the bedrock into smaller fragments. Rock is an aggregate of natural rock
materials. Minerals present in rocks do not undergo equal decomposition. It
depends on the solubility and weathering ability of the minerals. Soils
formed at the site or near it resemble the character of the original rock from
which they are formed.
(2) Climatic conditions: Climatic conditions such as precipitation, temperature
fluctuations, evapotranspiration, wind and humidity are factors which
influence the formation of soils. Tropical and subtropical climates favour a
rapid rate of soil formation.
(3) Topography of the region: Topography influences the formation of soil.
Steep mountain slopes will not favour soil formation. Soils are generally
formed on flat surfaces.
(4) Organisms: Flora and fauna play an important role in soil formation. Soil
scientists believe that plants play a leading role in the formation of soil, like
penetration of roots into the subsurface layers of the earth, biochemical
activity and decomposition of mineral matter. Bacteria and burrowing
animals also play a significant role in soil formation.
(5) Time durations: Soil formation is also dependent on the time factor. It has
been estimated that the formation of soil which is a few centimetres thick,
requires several thousand years. Formation of soil to 1 cm thickness in sites
can take about 600 to 1000 years depending on the nature of the parent rock
material, intensity and duration of weathering. Sedimentary rocks have
been formed by the constant weathering of erosive agents over millions of

▆ Soil Profile
Soil scientists have identified a number of horizons within the soil. A vertical
section from the surface down to the bedrock reveals various layers, the
identification of which is termed a soil profile. A typical soil profile is shown in
Fig. 7.1.
Fig. 7.1. Soil Profile

Pedologists identifying the layers of a soil profile have designated them as:
A-horizon: top soil, rich in humus and vegetal matter
B-horizon: rich in mineral matter C-horizon: subsoil weathered zone in which
weathered rock particles are discernible
D-horizon: considered a soiled rock horizon in which no vegetal matter occurs.
A and B horizons are used extensively by pedologists.
On the other hand, civil engineers will analyse horizons A to D before
deciding on any civil engineering works.

▆ Soil Classification
Soils have been classified on the basis of methods based on descriptions by
pedologists, geographers, geologists and civil engineers. Each classification
differs from the other, depending on the purpose of utilization of soils. Here the
geologic and the civil engineering classification of soils are described.
Geologic Classification of Soils
Engineering geologists use their knowledge of geology for the analysis of the
parent rock materials and the effects of the soil-forming process. According to
the mode of formation and the agencies involved, soils may be classified into
two types: Soil in-situ and drifted soil.

Soil in-situ: This type is again subclassified into two groups namely, residual
soil and cumulose soil.
(a) Residual soil: These soils are formed above the original parent rock material
where they are found. They show all the characteristic features of the
original rock. Lateritic soil is the best example of a residual soil.
(b) Cumulose soil: This soil type is formed mostly due to the accumulation of
organic matter, for example, peat. These soils are formed in waterlogged
conditions — lakes, estuaries, river beds, deltaic regions, etc.
Drifted soils: These soils are formed far away from the original parent rocks.
They drift from the place of origin to the site of deposition by means of various
geological agents such as slopes of the area, rivers, glaciers, wind, lake, marine
and volcanic activities. Drifted soils are classified on the basis of drifting agents
and are grouped into the following types: (a) colluvial soils (b) alluvial soils (c)
glacial soils (d) aeolian soils (e) lacustrine soils.
(a) Colluvial soils: These soils are formed from the rock materials that
accumulate at the base of the steep mountains by the action of gravity.
Thus, they are stony in nature. Very few mountain plants can grow on it.
(b) Alluvial soils: These soils are very fertile because they are formed by the
action of rivers and are confined to river basins. The Indo-Gangetic
alluvium plains belong to this type.
(c) Glacial soils: These soils are transported and deposited by glacial action.
Rock fragments, which are formed under the glacial action show angularity
with striations. These soils are not fertile.
(d) Aeolian soils: These soils are formed due to the wind action. They consist
mainly of silt and clay. Some are fertile.
(e) Lacustrine soils: These soils are formed at the bottom of the lake beds.
Rivers and glaciers bring the sediments and silts which get deposited in the
lakes. When the lakes dry up, lacustrine soils are formed.

Engineering Classification of Soils

The engineering classification of soils is based on their material and mechanical
properties. A civil engineer normally deals with soil as a building material. A
number of classifications have been proposed. Soils may be classified by the
Wentworth Scale, the Attenberg, the Casagrande or the Unified Soil
Classification system. Soil classification is presented in Table 7.1.
[Indian Standard Classification of Soils for General Engineering Purposes
(IS 1498–1970), (First Revision)].
This Indian Standard (First Revision) was adopted by the Indian Standard
Institution on 19th December, 1970 after the draft finalized by the soil
engineering sectional committee had been approved by the civil engineering
division council.
Soil survey and soil classification are at present being done by several
organisations in India for different purposes. The engineering departments and
research laboratories have done a great deal of work with regard to soil
exploration and classification in fields relating to irrigation, buildings, roads, etc.
The investigations relating to the field of irrigation have two objectives, namely,
the suitability of soil for the construction of dams and other kinds of hydraulic
structures and the effect on the fertility of soil when it is irrigated. With regard to
roads and highways, investigations have been undertaken to classify them from
the point of view of their suitability for construction of embankments, subgrades
and wearing surfaces. With respect to buildings, soil investigation and
classification are done to evaluate the soil in terms of its bearing power. Each
department adopts a different system for soil classification, and this has led to
difficulties in interpreting the results investigated by one agency and quite often
the results have hardly been comparable. The Indian Standard was therefore
published in 1959, which classified soils into three divisions: (a) coarse-grained
soils (b) fine-grained soils (c) highly organic, a common basis for soil
Table 7.1. Various Soil Classifications
Coarse-grained Soils
In these soils more than half the total material by weight is larger than 75
microns IS sieve size. Coarse-grained soils can be further subdivided into
gravels and sands.
Gravels: In these soils more than half the coarse fraction (+75 micron) is larger
than 4.75 mm IS sieve size. This subdivision includes gravels and gravely soils.
These soils are subgrouped into the following subdivisions.

Sands : In these soils more than half the coarse fraction (+75 micron) is smaller
than 4.75 mm IS sieve size. This subdivision includes sands and sandy soils.
These are subgrouped into:
Fine-grained Soils: The fine-grained soils can be further divided into three
subdivisions on the basis of the following arbitrarily selected parameters:
(a) Silt and clay of low compressibility, having a liquid limit less than 35
(represented by the symbol L).
This division is subdivided into:
Symbol Typical description
ML Inorganic silts and very fine sands, rock flour, silty or clayey fine
sands or clayey silt with zero to low plasticity
CL Inorganic clays, gravelly clays, sandy clays, silty clays, lean clays of
low plasticity
OL Organic silts and organic silty clays of low plasticity

(b) Silts and clays of medium compressibility, having a liquid limit greater than
35 and less than 50 (represented by the symbol I).
Symbol Typical description
MI Inorganic silts or clayey fine sands or clayey silts of medium
CI Inorganic clays, gravelly clays, sandy clays, silty clays, lean clays of
medium plasticity
OI Organic silts and organic silty clays of medium plasticity

(c) Silts and clays of high compressibility, having a limit greater than 50
(represented by the symbol H).
Symbol Typical description
MH Inorganic silts of high compressibility,
micaceous or diatomaceous fine sandy or silty
soils, elastic silts
CH Inorganic clays of high plasticity, fat clays
OH Organic clays of medium to high plasticity
Highly Organic Soils and Other Miscellaneous Soil Materials
These soils contain a large percentage of fibrous organic matter, such as peat and
particles of decomposed vegetation. In addition, certain soils containing shells,
concretions, cinders and other non-soil materials in sufficient quantities are also
grouped in this division.
Symbol Typical description
Pt Peat and other highly organic soils with very high compressibility

[Excerpts from Indian Standard IS: 1498–1970. Classification of Soils for

Engineering Purposes, First Revision, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi]

▆ Soil Deposits of India

India is a vast country. Its diverse natural environment has engendered various
types of soils. A number of classifications have been suggested for the soils of
India. However, based on physiography, climatic conditions and geological
formations, the soils of India have been grouped into the following types: (1) red
soils (2) black soils (3) lateritic soils (4) alluvial soils (5) desert soils.

Red Soils
These soils form a large group and occupy a vast area in our country. Red soils
are formed over the Archaean crystalline gneissic complexes. Red soils are light
and porous with no soluble salts but deficient in phosphorus, nitrogen and lime.
The red colouration is due to oxidation and wide diffusion of iron content.
However, red soils need not necessarily be red. They may be red or light brown.
Red soil is distributed in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar
Pradesh, Bihar, western parts of Hyderabad and southeastern parts of Mumbai.
Nearly two-thirds of the cultivable area occurs in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Soils are mainly derived from granites, gneisses and metamorphic rocks and
charnockites. These soils are in-situ formations.

Black Soils
Black soil is composed largely of clay material with a high content of alumina,
lime and magnesia, with variable proportions of phosphorus, potash and
nitrogen. Black soil is usually porous and swells considerably on addition of
water. It dries up with loss of moisture content and develops innumerable cracks.
It is known that the swelling property of black soil is due to the high content of
montmorillonite groups in the clay minerals.
Black soils are suitable for the cultivation of cotton and are also called
black cotton soils. Black soils are mainly derived from basaltic rocks. These
rocks cover an area of 300,000 sq km and extend over Maharashtra, Gujarat,
Madhya Pradesh, central India, Belgaum in Karnataka and Rajamundry in
Andhra Pradesh. Basalts are grouped under the Deccan traps because of their
tendency to form plateau-like features comprising ferromagnesian minerals.
These rocks are called plateau basalts. In peninsular India after the Archaean
complex of rocks, the Deccan traps constitute the most extensive geological
formations. Black soils are formed mainly in Deccan trap regions and some
areas of gneissic and calcareous rocks in Andhra Pradesh, southern and central
Tamil Nadu.

Lateritic Soils
Lateritic soils are rich in iron and aluminium with a small percentage of
manganese and titanium. Laterites are of two types, viz., primary and secondary.
Primary laterites are found in the original rock materials from which they are
derived. These rocks are generally formed at the high elevated portions of
hillocks while secondary laterites are formed due to the sedimentary deposits.
These rocks show no relation with the original parental materials. Laterites are
products of intense subaerial rock weathering. They consist predominantly of
mineral assemblages of geothite, hematite, aluminium hydrorides, kaolinite
minerals and quartz. Lateritic soils are a result of the disintegration of laterites,
which are formed mainly due to the subaerial residual physicochemical
weathering of rocks and are dependent on various factors including climate,
topography, ground water quality and movement, preponderance of chemical
over mechanical weathering, amount of vegetation and character of the bedrock.
Laterites are soft and can be cut with a chisel when wetted with natural
moisture but harden when exposed to sunlight. Lateritic soils cover an area of
100,000 sq km mainly along the west coast of India, viz., Maharashtra, Goa,
Karnataka and Kerala. They are also found in parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra

Alluvial Soils
A large part of India, mainly north of the Vindhyan Satpura range, is covered
with river alluvium especially the deltaic regions of major rivers of peninsular
and extrapeninsular regions of the country. In the Indo-Gangetic plains the
thickness of the alluvium is more than 100 m. Flood plain deposits form
alternate layers of sand, silt and clay formations and this is dependent on the
lithology of the topography of a region. Alluvial deposits are mainly distributed
in the Indo-Gangetic deltaic plains of Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil
Nadu, Orissa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Desert Soils
In a large part of Rajasthan and adjacent areas, i.e., about 500,000 sq km desert
soils are formed under arid conditions with very little rainfall. Eight thousand
years ago the Thar desert received abundant rainfall, today it is a dry region. The
desertification is enhancing the formation of desert soils. It is estimated that
9,290 sq km of western Rajasthan has already been desertified. The Thar desert
covers 317,000 sq km. Human-made obstructions and developmental activities
pose a threat not only to parts of Rajasthan, but also to Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana,
Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

▆ Soil Erosion
Soil is considered as one of the reusable materials for the survival of life on
planet earth. It is the topmost layer of the earth, formed due to mechanical
disintegration and chemical decomposition of rock materials. It is estimated that
the formation of 1 cm of soil requires several years. Large amounts of top soil
are carried away due to precipitation, wind, rivers, glaciers, etc. This is known as
soil erosion.

Agents of Soil Erosion

Soil is eroded at a faster rate by the following: (a) wind (b) rainfall (c) river flow
(d) deforestation.
Wind: In arid areas, wind is a powerful agent of soil erosion. During summer,
soils become dry and light. Whenever a powerful wind blows, soil particles are
carried to a considerable distance. Soils in deserts are often carried by the wind
and the sand particles are deposited in the adjacent agricultural soil. The rate of
wind erosion depends on the strength and direction of the wind and weight or
size of the soil particles.
Rainfall or Precipitation: Rainfall is one of the important agents of soil erosion.
When water molecules fall on the soils and weathered rocks, the soil particles
become wet and are carried away by the flow of water. The rate of soil erosion
depends on the type and duration of precipitation and the nature of the soil.
Rivers: Flowing water carries along with it the weathered particles. Streams,
rivers transport the fine soil particles and deposit them in lakes and reservoirs.
Deforestation: Trees protect soils from erosion. Heavy precipitation cannot hit
the soil directly. It is estimated that in the newly deforested areas of the tropical
regions, organic matter is lost at the rate of 20 per cent to 65 per cent per annum.
The presence of organic matter in the soil is vital for good water retention and
growth of flora. Good water retention reduces soil erosion.

▆ Types of Soil Erosion

Large quantities of valuable soils are eroded by water and wind. Soil erosion of
these types mainly takes place by two methods: (a) sheet erosion (b) gully
(a) Sheet erosion: This depends on the rate and amount of runoff water and the
erodability of soils. Sheet movement of running water causes sheet erosion,
which has eroded layers from hill slopes. In unprotected land and
overgrazed soils, unpacked soil grains are carried away by running water.
Sheet erosion is common in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Western
Ghats and the Eastern Ghats.
(b) Gully erosion: In topographical areas covered by vegetation, weathered soil
and clay particles resist erosion. Hence, the water forms small rivulets,
which in turn erode a deep layer of the soil. Rivulets form larger channels
and gradually erode the soil. This activity leads to the formation of badland

Effects of Soil Erosion

An equilibrium occurs in nature between the climate (chiefly rainfall and
temperature) of a place and the vegetation cover that protects the layer of soil.
Grass, shrubs and trees retard the transportation of soil. Some amount of erosion
does take place even under this natural cover but it is very slow and is
compensated by the formation of fresh soil by the ordinary process of natural
weathering. This type of erosion is therefore of little consequence because there
is a balance between the disintegration of rocks and the subsequent formation of
soil. It is when the rate of change is upset, that this balance is destroyed and
accelerated erosion takes place. Humans are mainly responsible for setting in
motion these changes through deforestation, cultivation on steep slopes,
unrestricted grazing, indiscriminate drainage operation and denuding forests
(Pichamuthu, 1966).
Soil denudation results in severe floods and increased scouring. Such floods
are a source of danger for road and rail bridges, irrigation and navigation canals,
storage reservoirs, hydroelectric projects, water supply and pumping stations.
Typical case studies on siltation problems in Indian reservoirs are discussed
in the chapter on dams. However, a typical review case study of Indian soil
erosion is described here.


Soil erosion is a global phenomenon. In India it is seen in its worst form in the
Himalayan watershed that sustains a huge population and replenishes several
perennial river systems. It is also manifest in other mountain chains, such as the
Aravallis, the Vindhyas, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats in varying
The devastating effects of soil erosion can be seen in the foothills of the
Shiwalik range. Today, the villagers in the region dread rain because with every
spell of rain, a chunk of fertile land is washed away by the gushing waters,
leaving behind deep gorges. The once prosperous hamlets of the region now
sport a desolate look. The verdant hills have been reduced to bare huge
protrusions that resemble giant termite mounds.
In India, the Himalayan watershed sustains a population of about 500
million and replenishes several perennial river systems. The Himalayas are
subjected to significant amounts of erosion. Enormous amounts of sterile detritus
are washed off the mountain sides, silting harbours, reservoirs and river beds and
spread over prime crop lands during the rainy season.
The grave environmental damage to the hills has given rise to people’s
movements such as the Chipko on the one hand and the socially acceptable
technology transfers organised by the Central Soil and Water Conservation
Research and Training Institute (CSWCR and TI), Dehradun, in the villages of
Sukhiomajri, Nada and Bunga on the other. These field programmes have
created environmental consciousness in the Himalayan villages.
India is one of the few countries in the world to have estimated the loss of
top soil due to erosion. Roughly, about 5,300 million tonnes of soil (about 16
tonnes/hectare) is eroded every year in the country.
Erosion due to the constantly blowing high-velocity winds occurs in the
arid zones and along the coastal belts. Sterile sand particles are rolled along by
the spreading winds and tend to settle down as sand dunes. The serious
consequences of wind erosion are seen in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana,
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu.
The hot desert spread is over 3.2 lakh sq km and Rajasthan accounts for
more than 60 per cent of it. The arid zone is distributed in Gujarat (20 per cent),
Punjab and Haryana (9 per cent) and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (10 per
cent). Desertification is due to the fragility of the dryland ecosystems, which
under the excessive pressure of human use lose productivity and the ability to
recover. Studies have shown that in Rajasthan, water erosion, wind erosion, sand
deposits and salinity are the major reasons for the fall in agricultural
productivity. Wind erosion and sand deposition are the main culprits for the
spectacular dunes that extend over 58 per cent of the desert and sand deposition
is still an active process in many regions. An area of 23,882 sq km in Rajasthan
is threatened by the spreading sands. Of this, 4.34 per cent, mostly concentrated
in the extreme west in the Jaisalmer district has already been affected. About
76.15 per cent of the area, forming a belt in Ganganagar, Churu, Bikaner,
Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Jalore, Jhunjunu and Nagaur districts, is considered
high to medium in vulnerability. The remaining 19.5 per cent is found to be
medium to slight in its degree of degradation.
In peninsular India, soil erosion is widely prevalent in the Western Ghats,
which form the real watershed for the south. The extensive clearing of forests in
the unprotected catchments and intense human and livestock interference with
the vegetation in the hill slopes have aggravated the problem.
The Western Ghats range, passing through Karnataka has suffered severely
with the bulk of the forests vanishing in the last three decades. The alarming rate
at which the tree cover has disappeared has triggered people’s movements such
as the Appiko, which strive to retain the lush vegetation cover that protects the
precious life-sustaining soil. There are no precise estimates of soil loss but
scientists and others have felt the effects of soil erosion in many places in the
Clearing forests for annual crops, industries, hydroelectric projects, towns,
roads, bridges and coffee, tea and other plantations are cited as possible reasons
for landslides in the high rainfall prone hills. Different forms of erosion, such as
splash, sheet, rill, gully and stream bank have left permanent scars in the past
years on the denuded hillocks. In the Nilgiris, poor management of farmlands
has led to a high degree of soil loss, up to 45 tonnes a hectare per annum.
Expansion of the area under potato cultivation up and down the slopes and
unscientific modes of terracing have compounded the problem.
In the Nilgiris about 68,000 hectares have been affected by severe soil
erosion, according to estimates by scientists. Overgrazed grasslands, indiscreet
deforestation of the native shole forests, wastelands and catchments have
accelerated the erosion and upset the ecological balance. Because of soil erosion
in the hills, reservoirs are endangered and the lower Bhavani and Khunda
regions have silted heavily in the last decade. The Katteri dam has been
abandoned due to reservoir siltation. The Kundapallam forebay reservoir and
Pillur reservoir have also been badly affected by siltation and their storage
capacity has shrunk significantly.
The mountain sides of Kerala are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to
soil erosion. Widespread cultivation of the erosive crop tapioca even on the
marginal and sloppy lands has caused havoc. Deforestation is rampant
particularly in the catchments and the consequent siltation is a big problem in the
many dams of the state.
Siltation of reservoirs is the most burning problem of civil engineers. It is
estimated that many reservoirs in India have silted up, subsequent to water
[Excerpts from Soil Erosion Article published in The Hindu, Survey of
Environment, 1991].

▆ Desertification
The United Nations document defines desertification as, ‘The destruction of the
biological potential of the land, which can ultimately lead to desert-like
conditions’. In arid and semiarid regions where restoration of the fragile
ecosystem is very slow, mining adds significantly to other desertification
Desertification is a worldwide environmental problem, but in India, as
already mentioned above, it poses a serious threat to 317,000 sq km. Thar desert
is already swallowed up in Rajasthan and another 164,000 sq km is vulnerable in
that state alone. Add to these figures the sizable states of Punjab, Haryana and
parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and the threat becomes a menacing
reality (Venkat Reddy, 1987).

▆ Soil Conservation Measures

Soil is one of the reusable natural materials on the earth’s crust. Excessive soil
erosion converts rich fertile lands into barren lands. Measures by which soil is
protected from erosion are termed soil conservation.
Soil conservation in the catchment region is very essential as the
transported soil is deposited in reservoirs, dams, tanks, fertile lands, etc. Siltation
of reservoirs in India has been much faster than projected. This phenomenon is a
consequence of large scale land degradation mainly due to deforestation, human
interference and climatic conditions in the catchment regions. Many reservoirs
have lost their storage capacity. Desilting of reservoirs is a costly affair. Silting
of reservoirs is a national loss. All measures for erosion control depend mainly
on three things: (a) increasing absorption (b) reduced percentage of runoff (c)
providing protection against damage by residual runoff. Absorption may be
increased by improving the infiltration rate of the soil and by impounding the
water where it falls, thus increasing the time of contact or the absorption
opportunity. The following important measures are adopted for soil
conservation: (1) agronomic (2) engineering.

Agronomic Measures
These measures are adopted to protect the top soil by the following ways:
(a) Crop Rotation: Various crops are grown in the same agricultural field with
a definite scheme of rotation depending on the soil conditions. First, a
cultivated crop is grown followed by a small grain variety crop, then grass
and again a cultivated crop. In this sequence of rotation of crops, soil
particles will not be overly distributed. In general, a cultivable crop
penetrates the soil while recultivation leads to dislocation of the top soil.
Small grain or grass type cultivation crop roots hold soil particles with a
network of roots and prevent soil erosion. This sequential order of
cultivation will minimize soil erosion. Implementation of this method
depends on the active support of the farmers and the agricultural
(b) Contour Farming: In this method, crops are cultivated along contour
planes. During precipitation the runoff water flows from the higher terraces
to the lower ones. Row crops, contrarily are planted up and down the slope,
each plough furrow serving as a channel for rapid flow, which results in
gully cutting. If the crop is planted across the slope so that the rows are
parallel to it, the rows then act as miniature terraces and tend to hold
rainwater when it falls. This method is particularly suitable on hill slopes
and arrests runoff and increases absorption. It should be combined with
terraced bunding in order to secure maximum results (Pichamuthu, 1966).
(c) Cover Cropping: Cover cropping in the soil area reduces soil erosion
because precipitation is intercepted, minimizing the force of rainwater
drops before they reach the soil. This method mechanically obstructs the
flow of runoff water and increases filtration.
(d) Afforestation: In India, official estimates show that over the years, the
country has lost 4.04 million sq km land or about 12 per cent of its
geographic area, which was once under the forest area. According to the
National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad’s closed forests
have decreased from 14.12 per cent to 10.96 per cent, degraded forests
have increased from 2.67 per cent to 3.06 per cent and mangrove forests
have diminished from 0.099 per cent to 0.81 per cent. Thus, the country has
lost 10.4 million hectares of closed forests, 63,000 hectares of mangroves
besides 1.29 million hectares of closed forests that have been converted
into degraded forests. These facts and figures clearly indicate the rate of
deforestation in our country. Deforestation results in depletion of trees and
consequently the rate of soil erosion increases. Plant roots will penetrate
into the subsoil zone and firmly fix the soil particles in the ground.
Afforestation of barren land and hilly terrain has to be done. Presently, the
government agencies, Forest and Environment departments are actively
planting trees in the highly eroded soils and in the hilly areas. Afforestation
requires public cooperation and proper supervision by government agencies
for protection of plants. In hilly areas timber-yielding trees should be
planted as they protect the soil cover. Their roots hold the soil particles
firmly with moisture. Fallen leaves on the ground from trees minimize the
rate of runoff.

Engineering Measures
In this method the following engineering practices have to be carried out to
regulate and minimize the rate of runoff water. These methods are (a) contour
bunding (b) contour trenching (c) terracing (d) nullah bunding (e) gully
(a) Contour Bunding: Construction of small bunds across the slope of the land
along the contour level is called contour bunding. These bunds split the
area into small strips and the precipitation falling on the soil in between
two contour bunds is retained, eliminating runoff. This helps in filtration of
water and consequently increases the water table.
The height of the contour bund depends on the slope of the land, the space
between the contour bunds and the maximum intensity of rainfall at any
given time. The size of the bund depends on the nature of the soil
(Pichamuthu, 1966).
High velocity runoff water erodes soil at a faster pace. It is necessary to
reduce the velocity of runoff water by constructing small ridges or bunds
perpendicular to the direction of the slope (Fig. 7.2). This reduces velocity
of runoff water and in turn minimizes soil erosion and facilitates filtration
of water into the subsurface, resulting in ground water storage.

Fig. 7.2. Contour Bunding

(b) Contour Trenching: Excavating trenches along a particular contour level

across the slope of the uncultivable waste in the top portion of the
catchment region is called contour trenching. This method is mainly
adopted in catchment portions consisting of hills, forests, wastelands, etc.
Contour trenching is mainly done to control the surface runoff and to
protect the contour and bunds in the lower regions.
(c) Terracing: Terracing is essentially a process of constructing a series of
drainage channels across the slope of the hillsides so that the runoff water
may be collected, before it attains, harmful velocity or volume and is
conducted gradually to an erosion-proof outlet (Pichamuthu, 1966).
(i) Gentle slope areas: Gentle sloping land is divided into a series of
parts and horizontal terraces constructed to a height of about 50 to
60 cm. Flat land is utilized for cultivation or agriculture.
Generally, paddy cultivation requires standing water. Hence,
bench-like formations are allowed to store surface water to satisfy
the requirement of paddy cultivation (Fig. 7.3). In this engineering
practice the rate of soil erosion is regulated.
(ii) Steep slopes: A ridge or an earth embankment is constructed
across the slope at suitable field locations to intercept runoff water.
These terraces reduce the velocity of runoff water and minimize
the rate of soil erosion (Fig. 7.4). Steep terraces are practised in
hilly terrains of Assam and Nilgiri tea estates.
(d) Nullah Bunding: Precipitated water flows from higher altitudes to lower
altitudes in the hilly regions. Runoff water carries eroded sides of the river
valley. Soil erosion depends on the velocity of stream water, gradient of the
stream system and erodability of soil materials. Meandering rivers with
turbulent water flow erode at a faster rate. A straight river course reduces
soil erosion. Banks of the rivers should have bunding on either side to
protect the river system. This reduces soil erosion.

Fig. 7.3. Gentle Slope Terrace

(e) Gully Plugging: Excessive stream water flow erodes soil at a very fast rate.
It is very essential to regulate runoff water. Generally, unconsolidated rock
formations and alluvium sediments facilitate the formation of gullies. The
general causes are improperly located roads, poorly maintained terraces,
lands, etc. Stream velocity has to be controlled by improving dams, e. g.,
log dams, boulder dams, bamboo dams.
Fig. 7.4. Steep Slope Terrace



According to an information published by the Ministry of Agriculture, in India
as many as 175 Mha (constituting 53 per cent of India’s geographic area) is
subject to serious environmental degradation as shown in Fig. 7.5. Nearly 60 per
cent of the cultivable area requires soil treatment measures. Thus, in reality the
single biggest threat is the growing mismanagement of our soil and land
resources to achieve our agricultural dreams. About 150 Mha have been caught
in the vicious circle of erosion by runoff and wind, the vehicles of erosion, as
much as 90 Mha are affected by erosion due to water. One recent estimate puts
the loss of top soil by water action at 12,000 M tonnes every year.
Fig. 7.5. Land Suffering Degradation

This is a colossal loss of fertile material and is irreparable as it represents a

permanent depletion of resource base. This, even at a mere price rate of not more
than Rs 10 per tonne, works out to a huge loss of Rs 12,000 crore annually
(Vohra, 1985). It may be worth repeating that it takes 200–400 years to build up
1 cm of top soil. It is reported that each mm of cultivated soil lost could cost 10
kg of nitrogen and 2 kg of phosphours (Srivastava, 1986). The country is losing
30–50 M tonnes of food grains every year due to the loss of fertile top soil from
around 85 Mha degraded agricultural lands. Problems of water erosion are
particularly severe along the Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Assam and the
rivers of North Bengal, such as the Tista and Torsa. The Hoogli in South Bengal,
the Ganga in Bihar, the Yamuna and Chambal in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and
Madhya Pradesh and the Mahi and Sabarmati in Gujarat as well as West Coast
river basins of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa, also pose erosion problems. An
isoerodent map prepared by the Soil and Water Conservation and Training
Institute, Dehradun is presented in Fig. 7.6. It shows the soil and land
degradation at of the country’s arable land out of desired productivity within 20
years. Estimates of land degradation in India are presented in Table 7.2.
Recently, through the interpretation of LANDSAT imagery (1:1 M scale), the
wastelands of the country have been estimated at 53 Mha, which include
degraded lands also (NRSA, 1985).
Fig. 7.6. Isoerodent Map of India (Refined)

Table 7.2. Estimated Land Degradation in India (Lakh hectares)

Note: Barren area notified as forest not included in the above figures.
Source: Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, New Delhi, 1984.


It has been estimated that nearly 8 million hectares of saline sodic soil in
different stages of development exists in the country.
In Punjab about 15,000–22,000 acres of land are going out of cultivation
annually due to salinity, alkalinity and waterlogging. The alluvial soils of Punjab
contain 10–15 per cent clay. Sodium is associated with the top soil: Calcium
carbonate in the form of kankar is present in a high amount. Soil scientists have
observed that irrigated lands under the western Yamuna canal are affected by a
serious salinity problem. They have identified the Karnal district in Haryana as
having a greater salinity problem than any other area in the state. In some areas
of Punjab, salinity is affected due to sodium sulphate.
In Uttar Pradesh, soils are affected mainly by sodium chloride, sodium
carbonate and sodium sulphate. Soil scientists have recorded a pH content from
9.4 to 10.5. Salinity of Uttar Pradesh soils has resulted mainly due to arid
climates and an ill-developed drainage system. Saline soils are particularly
situated along tracts of irrigated lands. Extensive irrigation of lands with canal
water has resulted in the filtration of surface water. This has resulted in an
increase of the ground water table, thereby obstructing the subsurface drainage
system, which in turn sets in the process of salinization.
Black soils are formed mainly in the Deccan trap regions and some areas of
gneissic and calcareous rocks in Andhra Pradesh and central and southern Tamil
Nadu. Black soil is mainly composed of clay, minerals, alumina, sodium and
magnesia and variable proportions of potash, nitrogen and phosphorus. Soil
analyses have confirmed the increase in the concentration of sodium with depth
coupled with simultaneous decrease in the free lime content (Ray Chaudhuri et
al., 1972). Black soils, particularly along the Godavari canal regions of Andhra
Pradesh, have accumulated residual salts due to alternate wetting and drying,
which has resulted in the development of alkalinity.

▆ Treatment of Soils in India

Punjab and Haryana: In Punjab and Haryana over 1.1 million hectares are
affected by salts. Large areas in Ferozepur, Gurgaon, Rohtak and Hissar districts
have been rendered unsuitable for agriculture due to the use of brackish water,
excessive irrigation or hindrance of natural drainage in areas irrigated by canals.
The water table has risen from 1.5 to 1.8 metres resulting in an accumulation of
salts on the surface. This process has resulted in the accumulation of salts in
Amritsar, Batala, Dera Baba Nanak of Gurdaspur district, Karnal and parts of
Hissar district (Ray Chaudhuri et al., 1972). The saline and sodic soils of Punjab
and Haryana have a high pH value, salt concentration and percentage of
exchangeable sodium. The salts are predominantly carbonates and bicarbonates.
The methods evolved in Punjab for the reclamation of sodic soils are:
(a)application of amendments such as calcium chloride, gypsum and press mud
and green manuring with dhaincha (b) agronomic practices, such as sowing rice
by rotation (c) draining excess water and salts (Ray Chaudhuri et al., 1972).

Uttar Pradesh: In Uttar Pradesh about 1.3 million hectares are lying waste
because of saline and alkali conditions. The most affected districts are Aligarh,
Mainpuri, Kanpur, Fatehpur, Unnao, Etah, Etawah, Rai Bareili and Lucknow.
The chief causative factors which have spread the intensity of soil alkalinity in
the state, consist of nearness of the water table to the surface or obstruction to
drainage due to the presence of an indurated layer of clay or kankar in the
subsoils. The morphological studies of these ‘usar’ or sodic soil profiles the
reveal formation of hard solonetz-like structures at the surface (Agarwal,
Mehrotra and Gangwar, 1958). Profiles of these soils are generally associated
with kankar or a hard clay pan, restricting the upward movement or downward
flow of water. Development of a planned system of drainage is considered a
prerequisite for all projects of reclamation of such soils (Ray Chaudhuri, 1965).
Reclamation of usar soils in Uttar Pradesh has been carried out successfully
near Kanpur and Allahabad by the application of heavy doses of molasses
containing 2 per cent lime and 60–70 per cent carbohydrate at the rate of 25–37
quintals per hectare. In a milder category of usar, soil recourse to mechanical
shattering of the clay pan beyond the induration depths without upturning the
soil, supplemented with leaching and use of organic manure have given
encouraging results at the government usar reclamation farm, Chakeri. The
treatment of alkali soil with gypsum at the rate of 7.5 to 12 tonnes per hectare,
followed by flushing with water and growing a crop of dhaincha (Sesbanina
aculeate) as green manure, and transplanted paddy have also given marked
responses under average cultivation conditions in Uttar Pradesh (Agarwal,
1937). Reclamation of saline alkali soil is mainly a physical problem. Where the
water table is not high and the subsoil is not totally impermeable because of a
kankar pan or indurate clay pan, the soils can be reclaimed by leaching with
water alone (Ray Chaudhuri et al., 1972).

West Bengal: Saline alkali, non-saline alkali and degraded alkali soils of about
0.9 million hectares occur in the coastal areas of West Bengal, in the districts of
Midnapur and 24 Parganas including the Sunderbans and the northern and
southern salt lakes near Calcutta. These soils have been affected by deposits of
salt brought by the tidal currents of the sea. Now these soils are bunded to
prevent ingress of the sea water. Sluices have been constructed to allow the
escape of rainwater, which dissolves and carries away some of the salt from the
soil (Ray Chaudhuri et al., 1972).

Delhi: Alkali and saline soils occupy nearly 19,000 hectares in the Union
Territory of Delhi. The main causes for salinity are alkalinity due to improper
natural drainage and shallow water table conditions, utilization of brackish water
for irrigation and impermeable hard pan in subsoil zones. The dissolved salts in
many of the well waters in the affected areas exceed 2,000 ppm and the sodium
percentage is high (Ray Chaudhuri et al., 1972).

Maharashtra: Flooding of seawater has rendered saline and thus unproductive,

more than one thousand hectares of soil along the west coast canal irrigation in
the Deccan black soil area. These remedial measures were suggested to control
the extension of waterlogged and saline areas: (a) canal lining in thick black soil
areas (b) fixing intensity of perennial irrigation in relation to drainage capacity
of the area (c) surface to surface drainage of salt-affected areas (Sharma and Ray
Chaudhuri, 1972).

Andhra Pradesh: Coastal alluvium is found in Nellore, Guntur, Krishna, West

Godavari, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam. Soil treatment
involves continued irrigation and preventing the rise of salt content. However,
this depends on permanent lowering of water table conditions. More than 9000
hectares of black soil are growing tobacco and cotton, converting alkalinity. This
is mainly due to restricted filtration in clayey soils.

Tamil Nadu: About 0.4 million hectares of saline and alkaline soils are reported
from the districts of Chennai, South Arcot, Tanjavoor, Ramnad, Tirunalvelly and
Kanyakumari. They also occur in pockets in low-lying areas and in areas under
irrigation. The soils have a pH of 10 in many instances and excessive salts,
mainly carbonates and bicarbonates of sodium are present. The treatment
recommended for these soils is the application of sulphur at the rate of 35 to 50
tonnes and gypsum at 25 tonnes per hectare. Such treatment reduces the pH and
washes down the salts.

Karnataka: In coastal Karnataka about 0.5 million hectares of saline soils are
reported from the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada.
Saline soils have developed in certain portions of Dharwar and Bijapur districts
due to excessive irrigation of deep black soils. Such soils are treated with
gypsum, although sulphur in combination with farmyard manure has been found
to be the best.

Gujarat: Saline and alkali soils in Gujarat comprise about 0.9 million hectares
including the estuaries of the Tapti, Narmada, Sabarmati and Mahi rivers. It has
been estimated that about 0.5 million hectares of saline areas in the Kutch region
have resulted from inundation by tidal waves of the sea, particularly in the
monsoon season. These soils are locally called khar. Such soils are treated by
first constructing seawalls along the vulnerable regions, in the second stage by
allowing rainwater to drain out and in the third stage by removing salts by the
application of gypsum, etc.
Saline and alkali development has assumed alarming dimensions in India.
According to conservative estimates reported recently, 15–16 million acres of
cultivated and cultivable land are affected to a measurable degree by the adverse
effects of salinity, alkalinity and/or waterlogging. This acreage covers an area of
about 3,84,000 sq km, which is roughly equal to the geographic area of Ireland
or the combined size of Albania and Belgium. This problem is rapidly increasing
every year. Uttar Pradesh has been losing about 50,000 acres of land annually
since 1939. In Punjab about 15,000–20,000 acres of land is going out of
cultivation every year due to salinity, alkalinity and water logging (Banis, 1972).
[Partly reproduced from the Bulletin Indian National Science Academy, No.
44, 1972 with permission from INSA].

Geologists and civil engineers normally differ in their appreciation of soils.
Geologists have an interest in the origin of soils, whereas civil engineers prefer a
study of the type of soils and the engineering properties. Soil surveys are carried
out to obtain necessary information about types and location profiles of soils.
Such information is useful in connection with two principal phases of civil
engineering projects—design of the structure and the construction phase. A soil
survey depends on a number of factors, such as general character of soils, parent
rock material, availability of soils and economics. Soil surveys and samplings
are essential in large-scale costly civil engineering constructions, such as
bridges, dams, highways, railway lines and airports.
Soil Surveys: Before any field soil survey is undertaken, the civil engineer
should know the geology of the area. He must study the geological maps and the
published literature of the region before starting a soil survey. The following
guidelines are suggested:

▆ Reconnaissance Survey
Reconnaissance surveys are necessary in connection with preliminary location
and planning of the virgin unknown area. In this preliminary survey, general
information of the area can be obtained. Interpretation of aerial photographs or
satellite imageries are highly useful in the preliminary assessment of an
unknown area. For example, observing the vegetation, extent and nature of rock
outcrops, evidence of soil erosion and gullying, character of landscape and
presence or absence of boulders at the surface will give a clear picture of the
area. Field observation in the selected area will also yield preliminary evidence.
Before planning a detailed survey, the area for future exploration must be
determined and as mentioned above, a study of the published literature of the
area, geological maps, cross-sections, etc., is imperative for proper planning of a
detailed survey.
Selected geophysical methods are presently employed in a reconnaissance
survey to ascertain subsurface features in a given area. The most useful are
seismic and electric resistivity methods. The seismic method is useful in plotting
the depths to bedrock over a large area. For specific confirmation at selected
points, test boring is necessary. The electric resistivity method is useful for
estimating the locations of rock boundaries, ground water, etc. The method is
also supplemented by specific test boring, to obtain the information necessary
for a site selection.

▆ Depth of Survey
The depth of the soil survey depends on the type of civil engineering project
under consideration or size of the structure being contemplated. For instance, for
a national highway or an airport it is necessary to know the soil strata up to a
depth of 30–50 cm below the ground. In heavy structures, such as bridge piers,
earth dams and high buildings, the depth of the soil survey would be about 1.5
times the greatest horizontal dimension of the structure, unless solid bedrock is
encountered at a higher elevation.

▆ Selection of Test Borings

After complete study of the proposed area, it is necessary to know the subsurface
conditions through test borings at selected points. This depends on the type of
civil engineering project. For example, railroads, airports or highways cover a
lengthy area for which a detailed soil survey is done by making test borings at
selective intervals depending on the geological conditions. On the other hand,
test borings for bridge site, dam or reservoir depend on field and geological
conditions. However, selection of the test sites should rest with an experienced
field engineer, depending on the structure to be constructed and prevalent
geological conditions.

▆ Documentation of Soil Survey

Documentation of the soil survey of a given area is very important. Generally,
soil survey details of highways or airports are plotted on profile papers. Each
horizon of the profile is shown by a distinctive cross-hatch. In bridges or dams,
profiles are recorded along the geological profile.
Documentation of field surveys is done with the help of computers. These
records are reproduced at the time of interpretation of a soil survey.


Descriptive Questions
1. What are soils? How are they formed?
2. What is soil profile? Describe in detail the geological classification of soils. Add a note on the
engineering importance of geological classification.
3. What are soils? Describe in detail the engineering classification of soils. Add a detailed note on
the BIS (Indian Standards Classification) for general engineering purposes.
4. Briely describe various soil deposits of India. Discuss the geoengineering problems of
respective soils in civil and mining engineering works.
5. What is meant by soil erosion? How many types of soil erosion have been recorded? Discuss
the adverse ecological impact of soil erosion with special reference to our country.
6. What is meant by soil conservation? Describe the various types of soil conservation
measures/techniques presently being adopted in our country.
7. Discuss the present status of the Indian soils with special reference to their erosion. Add a
detailed note on the soil treatment methods being adopted in our country.
8. What is meant by soil surveying? How civil engineers perform soil survey in the field? Add a
note on the importance of soil surveying in civil engineering works.

Supplementary Questions
9. What is geological definition of soil?
10. What is a civil engineering definition of soil?
11. What is agronomical definition of soil?
12. Enlist the factors responsible for soil formation.
13. What is meant by sheet erosion and gully erosion?
14. What is meant by BIS classification of soil?
15. What is meant by contour bunding?
16. What is meant by contour trenching?
17. What is meant by terracing?
18. What is meant by nullah bunding and gully bunding?
19. What is the present status of soil erosion in our country?
Chapter 8

Geological Work of Rivers

Learning Objectives

➠ different stages in the evolution of river system

➠ grouping of Indian rivers into two major divisions
➠ causes, effects and control measures of floods
➠ geological action of rivers

Water is a major component of the environment in which man occupies the
centre stage. All great civilizations have grown around water and many have
perished under water, perhaps not having realized its importance in sustainable
development. Running water is considered the most important geological agent.
It has been estimated that nearly 48,000 cubic kilometres of water (partly in the
form of snow) falls upon the earth. Approximately 97,000 cubic kilometres of
water is carried by rivers into the seas every year. Water reaches the surface of
the earth in the form of precipitation or snow. Some water filtrates into the
subsoil to form subsurface water, some gets evaporated back into the atmosphere
and some remains as surface water. Generally, surface water flows along the
topography in the form of streamlets. A number of streamlets join and form a
river system. Hence, a river may be defined as flowing water that carries
weathered sediments along its flow. A river system constantly interacts with the
lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.


Several distinct stages are recognized in the evolution of a river system. These
stages are the incipient stage, juvenile stage, mature stage and old stage,
analogous to that of human beings.

▆ Incipient Stage
Generally, rivers originate from mountainous regions where the supply of
rainwater or snowmelt are the sources. In the incipient stage several small
rivulets join together to form a stream. Several such streams join to form a river.
River flow is along the gradient of the ground.

▆ Juvenile Stage
In this stage, the river flows along an undulating topography and the gradient is
very high. Hence, the river suffers heavy headward erosion and develops valleys.
Waterfalls, steep-sided valleys, gorges and lakes are generally formed in this
stage depending on favourable field conditions. In certain favourable conditions,
river capture or river piracy takes place. If two rivers are flowing in the same
direction and one river suffers heavy erosion towards the other, in due course of
time, it reaches the other river. If it has a greater gradient, it shifts its direction.
Thus, the first water is drained into the other river. This phenomenon is called
‘River-piracy’ or ‘River capture’ (Fig. 8.1).

Fig. 8.1. Simple case of diagrammatic illustration of river capture by headward growth of a tributary

▆ Mature Stage
In this stage, valley widening begins by lateral cutting. A complex branching
system of the river develops. The river flows in an almost uniform gradient. The
drop in gradient reduces the velocity of the river which, in turn, decreases its
erosive power and hence, its transporting power also reduces. The river thus,
flows with a reduced velocity and moves in a zig-zag manner. This is termed as
the meandering stage. At the inner and upstream sides, the velocity of the river is
low while at the outer and downstream sides it is greater. Thus, deposits are
formed on the banks, which in turn form lakes known as oxbow or cutoff lakes
(Fig. 8.2).

Fig. 8.2. Meanders and oxbow lakes

▆ Old Stage
In the older stage the river gradient is very gentle and the velocity is also less. In
this stage the river loses its erosive power and attains distribution. At the last
stage the river merges into a sea or lake. When it meets the sea, the river may
form a delta.
Rivers are considered the most important geomorphic agents in bringing about
degradation of the land surface. The geologic activity of a river is divided mainly
into three types: (1) erosion (2) transportation (3) deposition.

▆ Erosion
Erosion is a complicated process that may be defined as the natural removal and
transportation of rock materials. River erosion is mainly due to mechanical
breaking down of rock fragments. Erosion by rivers is achieved principally in
four ways: (i) hydraulic action (ii) corrasion (iii) attrition (iv) corrosion.
(i) Hydraulic Action: The impact of running water pressure under certain
conditions produces considerable action on the flow. Flowing water
loosens fragments of the rock from the riverbed and the sides and
removes them. Jointed or fractured hard rocks are easily eroded by
moving water. Unconsolidated rock fragments are easily carried along
with the running water. The effectiveness of hydraulic action of a river
system is mainly dependent on the following conditions: (a) velocity of
the river water (b) gradient of the river system (c) depth and width of the
river system (d) amount of river water discharged.
(ii) Corrasion or Abrasion: Transported rock material will exert
considerable rubbing, cutting, grinding, scratching or polishing action on
rock fragments carried by any agent of transportation against the bottom
and sides of the channel. Abrasion of the rock fragments depends on
three types of situations:
(a) If the transported rock water is hard and the riverbed is soft, abrasion
of the bedrock is more pronounced.
(b) If both the bedrock and the rock fragments are hard, it results in
polishing of the bedrock.
(c) Contrarily, if the rock fragments are soft and the river bedrock hard,
abrasion of the bedrock is not remarkable. Weathered rock waste is
eroded away.
(iii) Attrition: The process in which eroded particles mechanically collide
with each other, bringing down the size of the particles, is termed as
attrition. In this process rock fragments suffer angularity and become
subrounded to spherical, depending on the mechanical impact of the
rock fragments themselves. However, this still depends on the type of
rock particles and their erodability.
(iv) Corrosion: Rocks and minerals are more or less soluble in water.
Solubility is increased by the presence of carbonic acids and oxygen.
Limestone is more susceptible in a solution. However, this too is a slow
process. The effectiveness of the process of corrosion depends much on
the composition of the river water.

Some Erosional Features

Potholes: Rock fragments, given a rapid swirling motion by river water currents,
cause cylindrical or bowl-like depressions in the beds of a stream, which are
called potholes. These are commonly formed in softer bedrocks. Potholes may
range in size from a few centimetres to several metres. Local streambeds with
potholes resemble a honeycomb.
Waterfalls: Where a river flows over a steep slope in its bed or plunges over a
vertical rock face, it results in the formation of a waterfall. Waterfalls mainly
originate due to excessive erosion of streambeds (Fig. 8.3). When a waterfall
descends in a series of leaps, they are termed cascades or cataracts. Jog
Waterfalls in the Sharavathi River in Karnataka is the highest waterfall in India.
Jog Waterfalls comprise Raja, Rocket, Roarer and Dame Blonche and have a fall
of 225 m. During the monsoon, the volume of water becomes very great but in
the non-rainy season, it reduces considerably. There are also many waterfalls in
the Western Ghats – Shivasamudram Waterfall of Cauvery River (90 m), Gokak
Waterfall of Gokak River, Karnataka (54 m) and Yenna Waterfall near
Mahabaleswara, Maharashtra (180 m). The Western Ghats form the major
watershed of the peninsula but the Vindhyan plateau in the north acts as another
watershed, which separates the Ganges basin from the peninsula. The rivers of
the Western Ghats show an early stage of development with cascades and
Fig. 8.3. A typical waterfall

Well-known, world famous waterfalls include Niagara, Snoqualmie and

Yellowstone (USA), Victoria Falls (South Africa).
Gorges or Canyons: During river erosion, down-cutting of its channel gives rise
to a deep narrow valley with vertical or steep walls. Such a valley is termed as a
gorge or canyon. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is the world’s largest
and it is 900–1800 m deep, 60–90 m wide and extends up to 320 kilometres.
Other notable canyons are Zion Canyon, Utan, Kings River Canyon,
Yellowstone Canyon and the Royal Gorge (USA). The term canyon is generally
applied to a large gorge. In India, the Indus Gorge near Gilgit is a typical
Factors for the Development of Canyons: The following factors are considered
favourable for the formation of canyons: (a) high altitude (b) rapid down-cutting
rivers (c) nature of rock types that can withstand erosive action to maintain steep
slopes and climatic factors (generally the climate is favourable). During the
development of a gorge, the down-cutting action of a river proceeds more
rapidly than the widening.
Badland: This is a special type of land developed mainly due to erosive agents,
mostly flowing water. Badlands are developed in semiarid zones of the world
where running water is the prime factor of erosion. These weathered lands are
traversed by small rivulets. Argillaceous rocks are favourable for the formation
of badland. In India, badlands are found in the Chambal basin, Shiwalik region,
barren lands of Damodar Valley, Agra, Mathura, Bheemnupaam, Visakhapatnam
district, Andhra Pradesh and West Coast.
Fig. 8.4. Escarpment

Escarpment: During river erosion loose or soft rocks erode much faster than
hard rocks, leaving behind steep slopes on one side and a gentle slope on the
other. The steep side is known as the escarpment (Fig. 8.4). Similar erosional
features are described below:
(a) Hog’s back: This is a sharp ridgelike structure with high angle sides on two
sides formed by harder rocks in an inclined series of beds (Fig. 8.5).
(b) Cuesta: Due to erosion on an inclined series of alternating hard and soft
rockbeds, a peculiar escarpment structure develops, which is called a
Cuesta (Fig. 8.6). It has an escarpment on one side and a gentle slope on the
other side. Cuestas are generally associated with coastal plains.
(c) Mesa and Butte: An isolated table-land area with steep sides, the result of
horizontal capping of hard strata having resisted denudation, is known as a
Mesa (Fig. 8.7). With continual erosion the mesa becomes a flat-topped hill
with a terrace-like appearance. Such hill structures are known as Buttes
(Fig. 8.7).

Fig. 8.5. Hog back

Fig. 8.6. Cuesta

Fig. 8.7. Mesa and Butte

▆ Transportation
All the materials carried by a river constitute its load. This load comprises two
types, viz., mechanically transported load and chemically transported load. Load
transportation along the river is dependent on the quantity of river water and
gradient of the river system. During floods, rivers carry excessive loads along
their path.
(a) Chemical Transportation: Mineral or rock matter dissolved in solutions are
readily transported by rivers. Limestones, dolomites and compounds of
iron, manganese, phosphorous, etc., are transported by river water.
(b) Mechanical Transportation: Mechanical transportation of load by rivers is
controlled by three prime factors (i) velocity of river water (ii) nature of the
river current (iii) density of rock materials to be transported.
(i) Velocity of river water current : Transportation in river water
depends on the velocity of the river current. Transportation power
is variably conditioned by size, shape and specific gravity of the
rock fragments. A river becomes swifter not only because of
gradient length, but also due to the volume of water. It was earlier
estimated by experts that doubling the river velocity increased its
transporting power as much as 64 times. However, a recent study
by experts showed that doubling the velocity of a river current
increased its carrying power capacity by only 32 times.
(ii) Nature of the river current: Velocity of a river is maximum in its
central portion due to less friction. Irregularities of the riverbed
system create turbulent water movements. Lighter and suspended
rock fragments are very readily transported by a river system,
whereas, heavier fragments require lifting before they can be
forwarded along the river path.
(iii) Density and buoyancy: We know that objects lose weight in water
and hence move easily under water. Heavier loads collected at the
river bottom are made lighter under water due to buoyancy. Salts
dissolved in river water increases the density, which, in turn,
produces more buoyancy. This facilitates the transporting action of
Peninsular rivers are mainly rainfed only during and after the southwest
monsoon. These rivers, active over the upper reaches, flow over rocky
formations and cause considerable erosion. The delta areas of the Krishna,
Godavari, Mahanadi and Cauvery tend to flood, their distributaries become silted
and surplus water is not allowed to flow freely. The Himalayan river systems
carry on an average about one million tonnes of silt per day. The Ganges and
Brahmaputra also carry more or less an equal amount of silt per day. These rivers
flow in good gradient and carry coarser materials, including pebbles and
boulders brought in by glaciers, which also form the beds and banks. They carry
huge quantities of fine sand and silt derived from the catchment regions of the
Himalayas. Much of the coarse fragmental materials is deposited near the plains.

▆ Deposition
Whenever the river capacity reduces, deposition of the river takes place. The
following factors influence deposition: (i) reduction in velocity of the river (ii)
reduction in slope or gradient (iii) decrease in volume of water (iv) change in
river channels. These conditions are favourable for river depositions. Such
deposits are termed alluvial.

Deposition by Streams
(a) Alluvial Cones and Fans: When a transported sediment emerges at the base
of a steep slope from a gorge, canyon, gully or in a valley, a favourable
condition for its deposition exists. This is mainly due to reduction in the
river water velocity. Such accumulated sediments or debris generally
assume the shape of a cone. Hence these deposits are called alluvial cones
when they are steep or alluvial fans when their width is just a few
centimetres. Such formations vary in width and thickness from a few
centimetres to a few kilometres.
(b) Meander Deposits: When a river reaches a grade condition, it begins to
meander depending on the field conditions. When the river current is
directed against the bank of the outer portion of a meander, it performs
lateral plantation, which results in moderate slack in the river channel more
or less directly opposite and deposition results, up to the flood level. These
meander deposits face one side, filling up the channel cutting on the other
(c) Floodplain Deposits: Flats on valley bottoms are developed by lateral
erosion of rivers, especially when they are graded. When the valley
subsides, more depositions of valley bottoms form. When these deposits
start overflowing during floods, they are termed floodplain deposits.


▆ Causes of River Deflection
(i) Ferrel’s Law: The main cause of river deflection is rotation of the earth
on its axis. According to Ferrel’s Law, if a body moves in any direction
on the earth’s surface, a deflecting force arising from the earth’s
rotation deflects it to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left
in the southern hemisphere. Rivers that follow Ferrel’s Law tend to
change course to the right and erode the right banks more than the left.
Thus, a river flowing northwards generally tends to cut the east banks
more than the west banks, while on flowing southwards, it tends to
deflect or erode the west banks. The influence of erosion is not only
greater in the north or south flowing rivers, but also increases with
distance from the equators as latitude difference in speed of rotation
increases. For instance, the swing of the Mississippi River against its
right bank (west bank) is about 9 per cent greater than towards its left
bank (Miller, 1952).
(ii) Lava Flow: Lava eruption may cause changes in the river path. This
depends on the extent of lava flow into the river system, forcing the
river course to deflect to a suitable area depending on ground
conditions. For example, the Colorado River has changed its course due
to lava flows.
(iii) Earth Movements: A river changes course due to earth movements.
Earthquake causes movement of the earth block along faulted regions.
These result in changes in the river course. For example, during the
Assam earthquake in 1950, there was a change in the Brahmaputra
river’s behaviour. A cursory study by the Geological Survey of India
indicated a southward movement in the Brahmaputra, aggravating flood
and environmental problems in the Brahmaputra valley. According to a
foreign expert, the river would move 32 km north from its original
position and that trend, if not checked, could pose a danger to a couple
of towns and to National Highway No. 31.


The Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Indus have changed their river courses in
the plains in both prehistoric times and later, whereas, peninsular rivers have
hardly changed their courses.
The Saraswati River was once a great river that flowed through Sind,
Bahawalpur, Bikaner and into the Rann of Kutch. But in the 13th century, it
dried up. Hence, people migrated from the banks of the river.
The Sutlej River originally flowed independently. Due to changes in the
river course in the 13th century, the Sutlej joined the Beas southwest of
Kapurthala. The Sutlej-Beas eventually joined the Indus River system at
The Himalayan rivers form deltas and changes of river path are often seen.
For example, the Kosi River once flowed by the side of Purnea but presently
flows many kilometres away from its original path.
The Tasa River was a tributary of the Ganges 150 years ago but due to
heavy floods in 1787, changed its course and became a tributary of the
Brahmaputra River system.
The original course of the Ganges River has also changed. The tributaries
which flow into the Ganges River system have likewise deflected from their
These few historic, prehistoric and modern examples confirm the deflection
of river courses. Civil engineers working in a particular river valley system have
to assess these changes before planning any river valley development projects.


Indian rivers can be grouped into two major divisions: peninsular and extra-
peninsular. The river basins of India are presented in Table 8.1.

▆ Peninsular Rivers
Many rivers traverse peninsular India. The more important ones are the
Brahmani, Cauvery, Damodar, Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi, Pennar,
Subarnarekha and Tambraparni, which flow in an easterly direction and merge in
the Bay of Bengal. The Narmada and Tapi rivers flow in a westerly direction and
merge in the Arabian Sea. The Banas, Betwa, Chambal, Ken, southern Tons and
the Soan are the peninsular rivers of northen India and belong to the Ganges
system. A few rivers originating in the Aravalli mountains flow into the Rann of
Most of the peninsular rivers flow along an easterly course. These rivers
have reached the mature stage of development. The longer rivers build up deltas
at their mouths. In the Western Ghats, rivers show an early stage of development
due to the upward movement of the western India peninsula in the Tertiary
geologic era.
Important features of the major rivers are described below and the major
rivers of India are shown in Fig. 8.8.
(a) The Brahmani: This river is formed by the confluence of the Koel and
Senich, which join together at Rourkela and flow through the districts of
Balasore, Bonai and Talahar in Orissa. This river finally merges with the
Baitarani River system before merging in the Bay of Bengal. The total
length of the Brahmani River is about 425 km and the catchment area is
about 39,03,359 km.
Table 8.1. River Basins of India
Source: Rao, K.L., Central Water Commission, 1978.
Note: Figures within parentheses indicate the total area of the river basin whether lying in India or a
neighbouring country.
* Indicates the number of river basins.

(b) The Banas: This river originates in the northwest of Mount Abina. Its total
river course is about 270 km and it flows through Palanpur.
(c) The Cauvery: This river originates in the Tala Cauvery, Coorg district of
Karnataka and flows along 765 km, its drainage basin is estimated to be
about 87,900 sq km in area. Bhavani, Amaravati and Noyil are the
important tributaries of the Cauvery River system. A few waterfalls have
originated in the Mysore plateau of the Cauvery River.
(d) The Damodar: This river originates in Tori, the Chhota Nagpur Plateau of
Bihar. Important tributaries are Barakar, Garhi, Jamunia and Konar. The
Damodar River joins the Hooghly River before merging in the Bay of
(e) The Godavari: This river rises in Nasik district, Maharashtra, Western
Ghats. Godavari is the largest river of Peninsular India. Its total length is
about 1,500 km with a drainage basin of about 3,12,812 sq km. Important
tributaries are Maner, Pranhita or Wardha, Purma, Sabari and Indravati. The
Godavari River flows in the area of the Western Ghats, Maharashtra,
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The Godavari has the
largest discharge of any river in India, more than that of the Ganges and
Brahmaputra. Up to half of its distance from the sources, it contains only
20 per cent of its total water volume. In this upper reach, the dams of
Jackwadi and Pochampad or Sriramsagar have been built. At its lower half
its colossal discharge goes unabated. The Dowleswaram Barrage at this end
has no holding capacity. There are no dams to control the floods in the
lower half where 80 per cent of its flow is concentrated.
Fig. 8.8. Major Rivers of India

(f) The Krishna: The Krishna River originates near Mahabaleswar in the
Western Ghats. Its total length is about 1,300 km and its drainage basin,
about 258,948 sq km. Important tributaries of the Krishna River system are
Bhima, Ghatprabha, Malaprabha, Koyana and Tungabhadra. Tungabhadra
is the largest tributary of the Krishna River. Tungabhadra is a union of two
small tributaries, the Tunga and Bhadra and originates in the western part
of Shimoga, Karnataka. The Tunga originates in the western part of
Sringeri, whereas, the Bhadra rises from the Kalasa, Shimoga district,
Karnataka. The Tungabhadra joins the Krishna River about 25 km from
Kurnool town, Andhra Pradesh after a course of nearly 659 km from
Karnataka. Important dams have been constructed, such as the Srisailam
multipurpose dam at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dam, Nandikonda,
Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh. The deltaic area of the Krishna River
starts from below Vijayawada. The Krishna Barage was constructed at
(g) The Luni: This river is in the southwest of Ajmer and flows more or less
parallel to the Aravallis. Its total length is about 320 km. The Bilara dam
was constructed on this river.
(h) The Mahanadi: This river originates near Sihwawa, Rajpur district,
Madhya Pradesh. Its total length is about 885 km and total catchment basin,
about 141,589 sq km. This river flows northeast, but after joining the
Seonath tributary, it flows east and finally southeast. At Sambalpur, it
enlarges and finally drains through the Eastern Ghats and before joining the
Bay of Bengal, it emerges as several channels and forms a deltaic region.
(i) The Mahi: This river rises in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh and flows finally
into Gujarat and the Gulf of Cambay. Its total length is about 560 km and
total catchment area about 34,482 sq km. Seawater (tidal) enters during
high-tide times up to 60–65 km.
(j) The Narmada: This river rises from the Amarkantak Plateau and flows
along Mandla, Ramnagar, Nabalpur and forms the Dhuandhaa Waterfalls.
From Jabalpur, the river flows westwards about 330 km between Satpura
and Vindhya mountains. The Narmada River passes through Punasa and
Handa and the alluvial plains of Indore. The Narmada River widens into a
28 km broad estuary below Broach and finally merges in the Arabian Sea at
the Gulf of Cambay. The total catchment area of the river is about 98,796
sq km and total length 1,300 km.
(k) The Sabarmati: This river originates in the Mewar hills and travels about
320 km only. Total catchment area is about 34,842 sq km. It merges in the
Gulf of Cambay, Arabian Sea.
(l) The Subarnarekha: This river originates from southwest of Ranchi and
flows through Singhbhum, Mayurnbhanj and Midnapore districts of Bihar.
It drains about 480 km and the drainage area is about 19,296 sq km.
(m) The Tambraparani: This river rises from the Tirunelveli district, Western
Ghats and finally drains into the Gulf of Mannar.
(n) The Tapi (Tapti): This river rises on a plateau in the Satpuras. The Tapi
River flows through the Betul district and Berar. The Purna tributary joins
the Tapi River before entering Khandesh. Finally, the Tapi River flows into
the plains of Surat and merges into the Arabian Sea. The total length of the
river is 700 km, the last 50 km of which are tidal. Total catchment area is
about 65,145 sq km.

▆ Extra-peninsular Rivers
(a) The Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu): This river rises near Mount Kailash and is
fed by the Singikampa and the Gartongchu rivers. The Indus is one of the
mightiest rivers in the world, draining glaciers and famous mountains
peaks, such as Nanga Parbat (8,114 m), Gasherbrum (8,068 m), Rakaposhi
(7,788 m), Terich Mir (7,690 m), Aling Kangri (7,315 m). Its total length is
over 2,900 km and the catchment area is estimated to be 3,21,289 sq km.
The other important rivers in the Indus system are the Jhelum, Chenab,
Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.
(b) The Saraswati: The Saraswati River originates from the hills of Sirmur on
the borders of Ambala district, the Yamuna of the east and the Sutlej on the
west and enters at Adhadri. The Saraswati River disappears and reappears
after a short distance flowing through Karnal.
(c) The Ganges System: The Ganges River is formed by two tributaries, the
Bhagirathi and the Alakananda. The effluent streams are the Yamuna, Kali
Karnali, Rananga, Gondak and Kosi. All these rivers are fed by snow.
After its merger with the Jamuna near Prayaga, the Ganges flows over Uttar
Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Near Mushirabad in West Bengal, it
divides into two branches. One of them, the Hooghly River merges in the
Bay of Bengal while the Ganges joins the Brahmaputra and flows into the
Bay of Bengal. The total catchment area is about 3,21,289 sq km.
(d) The Brahmaputra System: The Brahmaputra River originates in the
Tamchok Khambab Chorten in Chemayong-dung glacier. The total length
of the river course in 2,900 km and the total catchment is about 35,800 sq
km. The river changes its course. The important tributaries of the
Brahmaputra system are the Raidak, Sankosh, Mansa, Subansiri, Dhanseri,
Torsa, Tista, Jamuna, Meghna, Feni and the Surma.

▆ Floods
Floods are mainly caused due to the following reasons:
(1) Precipitation due to cyclones, depressions and consequent heavy
precipitation in a short duration. Godavari floods in 1983 and 1986
occurred for these very reasons.
(2) Inadequate river channel unable to carry excess runoff water.
(3) Excessive erosion in the catchment region, resulting in accumulation of
weathered debris in the river system, which in turn, results in the
obstruction of free flow of river water.
(4) Deforestation and large-scale environmental degradation of the catchment
area result in excess runoff, which in turn, results in excess water entering
the river system.
(5) Earthquakes or earth movements may cause floods. The terrible floods in
the 1934 earthquakes in North Bihar and the 1950 earthquakes in Assam
are well known.
(6) Shifting of river courses, particularly in extra peninsular rivers cause floods.
(7) Landslides, accumulation of debris in the river course.
(8) Shifting of river courses will lead to serious erosion of the embankments
and consequently floods occur in adjacent regions. In India, the extra-
peninsular rivers in particular, have changed their course due to varied
geological conditions and pose new flood threats. Two case studies are
given here to illustrate how shifting of rivers gives rise to the threat of
(i) Brahmaputra: Floods and erosion are two natural agents of
catastrophe, causing untold suffering to the people. In Assam, in
particular in the Brahmaputra valley, one catastrophe or the other
makes its ugly appearance almost every year. In recent years,
erosion has assumed a bigger dimension and becomes severe in
some vulnerable reaches of the turbulent Brahmapatura.
The Brahmaputra River’s dangerous trend of swinging towards
the south has posed a serious threat to a number of towns as well
as the National Highway along the south bank of the river.
As mentioned earlier, the earthquake of 1950 changed the
behaviours of the Brahmaputra River. The river carries a huge
load of weathered rock fragments and silt resulting in a valley in
the bed. Thus, floodwater enters the adjacent area. The Geological
Survey of India indicated that the Brahmaputra’s southward
movement aggravates floods and environmental problems in the
Brahmaputra valley. However, a foreign expert said that the
course of Brahmaputra River would be more around 32 km north
of its original position.
Floods generally occur in this river course, particularly in
Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Bokakhat, Silghat, Guwahati, Toalapara. The
flow of the river course and flood vulnerable sites are shown in
Fig. 8.9.
(ii) Kosi River: The Kosi or the ‘river of sorrow’ in northern Bihar
struck on 5th September 1984 after being tamed 30 years ago,
breaching its eastern embankment and devastating six blocks and
rendering six lakh people homeless in Saharsa district, Bihar.
Experts had assessed the shifting of the river course eastwards
and noted that this posed a serious threat to its eastern
embankment. However, no serious protective measures were
undertaken. The gushing waters made a 900 m breach in the
embankment and cascading down a slope of 2 m to 3 m, brought
havoc in the surrounding countryside. The breach has since
widened to 3 km and the river is now flowing in its old course.
The villages of Mains-Modhopur, Majanpur, Kediepur, Telwa and
Kharpa have been swept away.
The following are a few examples of great floods in India caused by landslips
and accumulation of vast debris in river courses.
Fig. 8.9. The Brahmaputra River course and flood vulnerable areas

(i) In December 1840, a large part of the Nanga Parbat slipped down into
the Indus River and formed a dam nearly 300 m in height. A huge lake
about 280 m deep formed behind the dam. This resulted in the rise of
water to about 90 m at Bunji and Gilgit towns. Within six months water
overflowed from the dam, which suddenly gave way to emptying the
reservoir within three days. The resultant floods took a vast toll of life
and property in the region. Similar floods occurred in 1858 and 1863.
(ii) Landslips gave rise to a dam about 120 m high and 400 m thick at
Shyok. The dam burst and the resultant rise in water level to 10 m
caused considerable loss of life and property in the area in the year
(iii) The landslide of Gohna hill gave rise to a dam at the Alakananda
tributary of the Ganges in 1893. The dam was breached later and
disastrous floods occurred (Krishnan, 1982).
India is blessed with an average annual rainfall of about 119.40 cm. This is
ironically the largest in the world for a country of comparable size, although the
coefficient of variation of rainfall has a larger range 15–80 cm from place to
place with an average of 30 (Rao, K.L., 1975).
Amongst all the tropical countries, India is the most severely affected by
floods. It is no exaggeration that floods are a curse for India. Their frequency
and the untold misery caused year after year confirm this epithet (Balakrishnan,
Table 8.2. Statewise General Periods of Occurrence of Floods and Associated Rivers
(Modified from Rao, V.R. et al., 1983).

Table 8.3. Flood Damage Trend in India – Five years Annual Average of Three Periods (1970–74, 1975–79
and 1980–84) at Current Rates up to 1984
Source: Lakshmi Roy on Flood damage, The Economic Times, September 9, 1985.
Among the major and medium rivers of peninsular and extra-peninsular
categories in India, 18 are flood-prone, which drain 150 Mha. The total flood-
prone area of the country has been estimated at 40 Mha. The general periods of
occurrence of floods in different states in the country are shown in Table 8.2.

Effects of Floods
Floods are considered natural hazards. They cause a huge loss to life and
property. According to the National Commission of Floods, the total flood prone
area in India is about 40–45 Mha, of which 32 Mha area is prosecutable from
this disaster.
Lakshmi Roy (1985) studied the flood damage trend in India based on five-
year annual averages for three periods: 1970–74, 1975–79 and 1980–84 (Table
The average flood damages rose from Rs 422 crore during the period 1970–
74 to a staggering Rs 1,591 crore in 1980–84, an almost four-fold rise in 15
years. On a perusal of this data, one interesting aspect was noticed, while the
share of non-crop damage in the total flood damage spurted from 28 per cent to
55 per cent, contrarily the share of crop damage declined from 72 per cent to 45
per cent during these periods. Yet the average annual crop damage in terms of
value of crops swelled from Rs 305 crore to Rs 714 crore and the average annual
crop area damage increased from 49 lakh ha to 60 lakh ha (Lakshmi Roy, 1985).
The siltation problem in reservoirs is particularly apparent during the 1950s
and 1960s. In some instances siltation deposition has exceeded 3 to 4 times than
projected in the reservoir design. In our country only 17 Mha (105 per cent)
storage capacity of surface water has been created compared to the total potential
of 177 Mha in the various rivers of India.
Hence, the remaining water continues to flow unabated, resulting in heavy
siltation of reservoirs. This problem is severe in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and
West Bengal. Peninsular reservoirs also have a siltation problem. For instance,
the Tungabhadra reservoir in Karnataka has measured a high siltation to the
order of 1.23 hectare metres per year. As compared to the original capacity, the
total loss so far is about 13.49 per cent over a ten year period (Govinda Rajan et
al., 1968). Case studies of siltation problems in Indian reservoirs are detailed in
the Chapter on ‘Investigations for Major Dams and Reservoirs’.
The Godavari floods have resulted in an enormous loss to life and property.
Those of 1986 are described here.
Godavari floods in 1986 touched 220 m at the pilgrim town of
Bhadrachalam, Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh. Uprecedented floods
brought untold misery, about 2.50 lakh people were rendered homeless and crops
on 4.8 lakh hectares in the Godavari delta were submerged, while extensive
damage was caused to the irrigation system in the delta region. More than 2,000
villages were marooned, 1.25 lakh houses damaged or destroyed and over 100
people killed.
The maximum crop damage was reported in East Godavari, West Godavari
and Krishna districts where transplanted paddy, besides commercial crops, such
as sugarcane and banana were totally submerged. The Godavari anicut was built
in 1852 by Sir Arthur Cotton at Dowleswaram. In 1945, Nawab Alenawas Jung
Bahadur selected this site for building an irrigation and power dam by the
erstwhile Government of Hyderabad. The anicut crest is 12 m above the mean
sea level. The Godavari water flowed at nearly 6.8 m above the crest, a level
never reached in its history, the previous height was 6.33 m in 1953.
Floods cause severe damage to existing structures. Effects of floods depend
on the extent of damage to property, structures, etc. In our country the extra-
peninsular rivers commonly cause floods. Floods in peninsular rivers cause more
severe damage than in extra-peninsular rivers because the causes of floods
depend on sudden depression or cyclones. Godavari floods have done much
damage in Peninsular India.
Flood Control Measures
(i) Effective flood-warning system: Flood magnitude at any point along
the river is an integration of various factors, such as intensity of
rainfall, its distribution and the conditions of catchment. Forecasts do
not specifically indicate the magnitude of the floods which are likely to
occur. A 100-year flood at a site need not therefore be the result of
rainfall intensity of 100-year frequency. Depending on the conditions, a
50-year rainfall can produce higher floods than a 100-year rainfall.
The Central Flood Control Board, Government of India has been set
up to cover all the inter state rivers for forecasting floods. Based on the
data from upstream, the level of water at a particular time and place can
be worked out and information can be conveyed to the local
government authorities 24–30 hours in advance of an impending flood.
This would enable immediate evacuation of the people and reduction in
loss of life though damage to property cannot be avoided. Presently
GIS, GAP and computers are used to make forecasts more accurately
and quickly.
(ii) Construction of flood banks on either side of the river: These banks
are constructed based on the previous records of the flood and estimated
future floods as well as the erodability of the river and the inclination of
the ground. River bank constructions can control floods depending on
the flood extent. If floods exceed the river banks, flood banks will not
control the excess water.
(iii) Construction of a series of reservoirs: The model way to control flood
is the construction of reservoirs in the river system. One of the most
flood-affected areas in the world is the Mekong delta where a series of
dams have been planned across the tributaries in the countries of
Cambodia, Laos and Thailand by a large-scale international cooperative
effort. Another good example is the construction of a large number of
reservoirs in Colorado, USA, built to store two years of flow. Hence,
floods below the reservoir have disappeared once and for all. Similar
action by building dams and extensive flood banks has been taken for
the Yellow River in China.
In our country, considering the problem of floods, a large number of
reservoirs have been built, such as Gandhisagar, Ranapratap Sagar,
Matatila on the tributaries of the Ganga. They moderate the floods. A
number of reservoirs are also under construction. Tawa, Bargi and other
reservoirs in Madhya Pradesh serve for detention of floods and also for
irrigation. Across the Mahanadi, Hirakud Dam completed in 1957 has
helped a great deal to contain the flood in the fertile deltaic portions of
Cuttack district, Orissa. Sardar Sarovar Dam, under construction, will
eradicate flood havoc in Gujarat.
The Godavari River with a catchment area of 3,14,000 sq km has
the largest discharge than any river in India. Godavari floods in 1983
and 1986 forced the government to construct one or two dams across
the river. The Pochampad/Sriramsagar reservoir of 112 TMC capacity
was built ironically where there is not much water. During recent floods
the reservoir filled up to 52 per cent. Keeping in view the enormous
yield below the Indravati, the first proposal was to build Inchampali at
410 FRL (125 m) to store 1,000 TMC (28.34 tm cu m) of water. This
level was recommended by the Central Water Commission, later the
level was reduced to 119 m where the capacity is 623.17 TMC (17.66
tm cu m).
Later, an interstate agreement of August 7, 1978 concluded between
the States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pardesh and Andhra Pardesh, it was
agreed to build the reservoir at a level of 370 ft (112.77 metres) where
the capacity would be 366.38 TMC (10.28 tm cu m). By reducing the
Inchampalli’s full reservoir level from 410 feet to 390 feet, the surplus
water (126 m–199 m) would flow into the sea.
Construction of a reservoir in our country requires cooperation in an
interstate agreement for better management of flood water to save life
and property.
(iv) Dredging the river course: Riverbeds have been silting up at an
alarming rate. It has been estimated that many reservoirs in India have
begun to accumulate sediments, in particular the Nizamsagar project in
Andhra Pardesh, Tungabhadra reservoir in Karnataka, Hirakhund
(Orrisa), Ghandisagar reservoir (Madhya Pardesh), Bhakra (Punjab),
Lower Bhavani (Tamil Nadu). Shivaji Sagar (Maharahtra), Mayrakshi
(West Bengal) and the silting of many river courses has been observed
in many extra-peninsular rivers. The Ganges, the Indus and the
Brahamputra river systems have accumulated sand and load debris.
Large-scale deposition of silting in the river course aggravates
floods in the river valley system. In 1973, Farleigh of the Hydraulic
Research Station, Willingfort, England — a world renowned river
expert and KL Rao, an engineer investigated the Brahamputra erosion
and silting problem. Farleigh suggested dredging the river to open up a
main channel by using a 20 inch cutter suction dredger with a floating
pipeline and dumping spoil offshore.
(v) Restricting human settlement along floodplains: Human activities
along flood prone areas are leading to a new threat of floods. The
Central Flood Control Board has demarcated flood prone zones in the
country. Chronically flood prone areas along the rivers should be
demarcated systematically showing approximate maximum flood levels
experienced in order to make the public aware of the risk.
(vi) Flood control programme in India: From 1954 to 1983, new
embankments to a length of 12,905 km were constructed, 25,331 km of
drainage channels dug, 332 towns protected and 47,000 villages raised
above the flood level. More than 12 million hectares of an estimated 32
million hectares of protectable area, were afforded a reasonable level of
protection by these measures up to March 1984. It has been planned
that at least 25 million hectares would be covered by 2000 AD.
Experts feel that apart from protective works, an increase in the storage
capacity and efficient flood forecasting systems are necessary to mitigate the
impact of floods. All the rivers together carry annually, 1,440 million acre fleet
(maf) of water, of which only 130 maf is being stored for release on a regulated
basis. The remaining 90 per cent has to be carried by the rivers in a short period
of four months due to monsoon causing floods.
Therefore, if more storage reservoirs are put up, to that extent floods can be
mitigated. But inadequacy of suitable sites comes in the way of increasing
storage reservoirs. Moreover, constructing reservoirs specially designed for flood
moderation involves high costs and does not pass the test of cost-benefit-ratio.
There are only two such reservoirs in operation, one over the Damodar in West
Bengal and the other over Rangali in Orissa.


Ravines are extensive systems of deep gullies along rivers, characterized by
profuse ramification, which leave only small unscarred patches in the interravine
area (Bali, 1968).

▆ Formation of Ravines
Rainwater falling on unprotected soil explodes into a splash of muddy water and
soil particles flow down causing sheet erosion. Due to undulating topography,
runoff concentration occurs giving rise to rills, which develop into small gullies
that grow bigger and bigger and form ravines. Once the ravine is formed,
waterfall erosion deepens it further, increasing the hazard of cave-ins at the sides
and at the head. At high flood levels, the rivers back up into the ravines, adding
to the process of saturation and slip of the sides. The ravine depth, width and
vertical or otherwise shape of the head and other features are due to runoff, land
cover, properties of the solid and geological substratum. The relative depth of the
river and table-land on the banks and the level and frequency of the back-floods
are important causative factors (Bali, 1968). Gully erosion depends on the
topography of the regions, rainfall intensity and duration, erodible nature of the
soil, improper utilization of land by overgrazing, biotic interference with natural
vegetation cultivation.

▆ Extent of Ravines in the States of India

Ravines being the ultimate and spectular phase of the erosion phenomenon, have
attracted considerable attention. It is estimated that about 19.9 lakh hectare land
is under ravines under various river systems in different states of India. Details
are presented in Table 8.4.
Table 8.4. Extent of Ravines in The States of India

Source: Planning Commission of India.

The country is losing about 8,000 hectares of ravines every year. The rate of
growth of ravines is estimated to be 0.5 per cent annually and considering the
rate at which land is being reclaimed, it will require 150 years to complete the
work, by which time the total ravine area will have doubled. This means that the
total watershed of the rivers will consist only of the ravines and their stable lands
will be completely wiped out.
In Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pardesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and other states
about 2 million hectares of land is unutilized. In Uttar Pradesh ravines constitute
an extensive system of gullies, which drain the surface land into such river
systems as the Chambal, Gomti, Betwa, Jammu and Kholas of the Ganga.
In Rajasthan, about 80 per cent of the shallow ravine area is already under
cultivation. Ravine depth depends upon the parent rock material below the
ground suface and level difference between the river flood level and the table-
land. The depth of the ravine is grouped into three types: shallow, medium and
deep (Table 8.5).
Table 8.5. Present Extent of Cultivation in Rajasthan in Various Depth Classes of Ravines (in percentage)

Shallow, below 1m; medium, 14.5 m; deep, above 4.5 m

Source: Planning Commission of India.
In Gujarat, an area of about 0.40 million hectares of land under the
influence of gully formation comprising about 0.30 m ha table and marginal
lands constitute the catchment area for different gullies (Balvir Verma, 1972).
Ravines are under different stages of formation in various states.

▆ Reclamation or Treatment
The best way to manage a ravine is to put it under a permanent vegetative cover.
Small gullies are reclaimed by minor levelling and construction diversion check
bunds. Medium gullies (depth up to 1.45 m) can be reclaimed by levelling and
clearing the gully-bed and constructing a series of composite earth-and-brick
masonry check-dams and benches terracing the side slopes. Deep gullies cannot
be reclaimed for cultivation economically. They need to be vegetatively
stabilized (Tejwani, 1972). After reclamation, the bench terrace and gully-bed
can grow all the crops that are grown over land and marginal lands, such as bidi
tobacco, castor, jowar, gaur, bajri, kodra, turacowpea, moth, etc., (Balvir Verma
et al., 1972).
The Government of India has constituted the Central Ravine Reclamation
Board to survey ravine land in our country and to suggest methods of
The subcommittee of the Central Ravine Reclamation Board has considered
that no blanket decisions on land are to be adopted in ravines until all available
information sources have been tapped: land records, toposheets, serial
photographs and fresh surveys. Then stabilization priority points as well as
reclaimed priority blocks should be located. Maps and reports of the areas
already ground-surveyed are being compiled for publication (J.D. Bail, 1972).
[Partial excerpts from symposium on Reclamation and Use of Wastelands in
India. Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi (1972).


India (Historical record): Grand Anicut, Kaveri (Arogyaswamy, 2003) — In
the earlier part of the 19th century, the Government of Madurai entered into an
agreement with the Maharaja of Travancore for the diversion of the floodwater
of the Periyar. A 4 mile (6.5 km) long tunnel was driven through the hard rocks
of the Annamalais and a dam was built at Thekadi. The waters of the Periyar
were diverted through the tunnel into the Kumbam Valley of Madurai to flow
into the Vaigai. What is more surprising is the building of the diversion dam
called the Grand Anicut, built by the Cholas across the flowing Kaveri. This
structure diverts the floodwater of Kaveri into Coloroom past the Srinegaram
This idea of interbasin transfer started with Dr K.L. Rao, an engineer in the
service of the Government of India in 1972. He envisaged the construction in
stages of the Ganga-Cauvery canal drawing nearly 60,000 cusecs of flood flow
off the Ganga near Patna for about 150 days in a year and linked it up with the
River Cauvery in the south. The concept of interlinking rivers is evidently
appealing to considerable sections of the general public and to policy makers.
More than three decades ago, K.L. Rao proposed the linking of the Ganga and
the Cauvery. It was followed by Dastur’s plan for a garden canal, linking all the
major rivers in the country. Both proposals attracted considerable attention. But
due to widespread criticism of their feasibility and desirability these were
shelved (Vidyanathan, 2003).
Dr K.L. Rao a visionary, did not simply suggest the linking of the Ganga
and the Cauvery but envisaged a water grid like that of the power grid. The idea
was undoubtedly noble and the implementation required colossal effort and a
staggering amount of money. But if it had been executed, the gains would be
overwhelming (Murthy, 2003).
Brahmaputra is a source of recurring floods, year after year the people of
Assam are put through tremendous agony because of the loss of lives and
property. So too, in other parts of the country like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,
particularly the northern part of Bihar, which is prone to floods more often than
the other parts. The east coast is prone to floods at times of atmospheric
depressions and cyclones. The floods that ravaged Orissa have their impact even
today. Other parts of the country also suffer from floods but rather uncommonly
(Murthy, 2003).
In the 1990s, the government appointed a commission to examine the
strategy resource development, including the possibility of interlinking rivers. Its
report, which is not available to the public is understood to have given cautious
support, subject to a careful examination of all the relevant aspects, to the idea of
linking canals to divert surplus waters from some selected rivers to water basins
and regions (Vidyanathan, 2003).
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court acting on a public interest litigation,
directed the Centre to draw up and implement a programme to interlink major
rivers by 2015. Subsequently, the then Prime Minister announced the
government’s decision to act on the court directive and appointed a task force to
ensure the implementation of the project by 2015 (Vidyanathan, 2003).
Murthy (2003) states that our country’s need of water can only be solved by
a water grid, which may be developed in the time to come, which may be two
decades or more. To decry the linkage of rivers is not at all justified. The inputs
may be great and the time involved may be high but this is an exercise that has
to be undertaken cutting across regional and political considerations. Such a grid
alone will quench the thirst of people and our parched fields can be made green
and fertile.
The diversion of the waters of the snowfed rivers to the rainfed rivers is a
multifaceted problem requiring a long-term multidisciplinary study
encompassing geology, topography, meteorology, hydrology (Arogyaswamy,


The task force on Interlinking of Rivers (Union Ministry of Water Resources,
Government of India) was set up in December 2002, to look into technical,
economical and environmental feasibilities for implementing this project. The
task force on interlinking of rivers asked all the states to involve NGOs,
educational institutions and farmer organizations in the country in popularizing
and disseminating information on interlinking of rivers.

▆ National Water Development Agency (NWDA)

The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) carried out ‘Water balance
studies’ before arriving at two major components as part of the ambitious project
namely the Himalayan component and the peninsular component. It proposed 30
links, 14 in the Himalayan component and 16 in the Peninsular component, of
which 21 links were interdependent and nine independent.
The interdependent ones comprise linking of the Mahanadi-Godavari-
Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery-Vaigai rivers in Peninsular India to transfer surplus
water of the Mahanadi and the Godavari to deficit areas of the southern states,
linking Manas and Sankoshi with Ganga, Subrenarekha and Mahanadi to
transfer surplus water to areas in other states with the objective of supplementing
the above named peninsular linkage and linking Gandak-Ghagra-Sarda-Yamuna
rivers to transfer surplus water to areas in states, including the desert areas of
Rajasthan and the arid areas in Gujarat.

▆ Links in the Himalayan River Component

The links in the Himalayan component are Manas-Sankoshi-Tista-Ganga, Koshi-
Ghagra, Gandak-Ganga, Ghagra-Yamuna, Sarda-Yamuna, Yamuna-Rajasthan,
Rajasthan-Sabarmati, Chunar-Sone Barrage, Sone Dam-southern tributaries of
Ganga, Ganga-Damodar–Subernarekha, Subernarekha-Mahanadi, Koshi-Mechi,
Farakka-Sunderbans and Jogigopa-Tista-Farakka.

▆ Links in the Peninsular River Components

The names of the links in the peninsular river component are Mahanadi
(Manibhadra)-Godavari (Dowlaiswaram), Godavari (Inchampalli lower Dam)-
Krishna (Nagarjunasagar Tail pond/Pulichintala), Godavari (Ichampalli)-Krishna
(Nagarjunasagar), Godavari (Polavaram)-Krishna (Vijayawada), Krishna
(Alamatti)-Pennar, Krishna (Srisailam)-Pennar, Krishna (Nagarjunasagar)-
Pennar (Somasila), Pennar (Somasila)-Cauvery Grand Anicut Cauvery (Kattalai-
Vaigai-Gundar, Ken-Betwa, Parbati-Kalsindh-Chambal, Par-Tapi-Narmada,
Daman-Ganga-Pinjal, Bedti-Varada, Netravati-Hemavati and Pamba-

▆ Water Transfer
The Himalayan rivers development envisages the construction of reservoirs on
the principal tributaries of the Ganga and the Brahamputra in India, Nepal and
Bhutan along with interlinking canal systems to transfer surplus water of the
eastern tributaries of the Ganga to the west apart from linking the main
Brahamputra and its tributaries with the Ganga and the Mahanadi.
The peninsular river development plan is divided into four major parts
namely the interlinking of Mahananadi - Godavari - Krishna - Cauvery-Vaigai
rivers, interlinking of west flowing rivers (north of Mumbai and south of Tapi),
interlinking of Ken-Chambal rivers and the diversion of other west flowing
rivers towards the eastern side.

▆ National Perspective Plan

The Ministry of Water Resources (then Ministry of Irrigation) and the Central
Water Commission had formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) in 1980,
proposing interbasin transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit ones with a
view to optimizing utilization of available water resources.
Some parts of the country experienced recurring floods and some droughts
every year. Flood damages, which came to Rs 52 crore in 1953 went up to Rs
5,846 crore in 1998, with the annual average being Rs 1,343 crore, besides
causing loss to human lives and property. Interlinking of rivers could put an end
to all the crises (Anon, Ministry of Water Resources, 2004).
Rainfall failures, uneven distribution of precipitated water, excess
utilization of surface and subsurface waters and other man-made activities led to
the shortage of water resources. This situation is aggravating year-by-year and
causing water shortage in many southern states. Implementation of this mega
project requires an in-depth study of the technical feasibility, economic, social,
ecological and environmental considerations.
Water resource engineers, geologists, environmental NGOs, policy makers
and others must study in detail all technical, non-technical parameters before
submitting the revised proposals on linking major rivers of our country, to the
government. Many rivers in northern India discharge copious amounts of water
during the rainy season. However, many dams do not store excess water and
cause floods in the region. Water resource becoming a rare commodity, judicious
utilization of available water is the prior need of the nation.


We must also examine other similar projects attempted in other countries.
California in USA appears to be the only successful state to have transferred
surplus water from the hilly north to the fertile plains of South California over a
distance of 720 km.

▆ Turkey
Another project referred to as the Peace Pipeline Project involves the transfer of
water from Turkey to Arabia over a distance of 3,000 km. Political implication
of such projects is of serious magnitude so that it is doubtful whether they will
ever become real propositions (Radhakrishna, 2003).


Heavy and persistent rains in some districts of northern Karnataka and southern
Andhra Pradesh led to water overflow in the Krishna River and its tributaries
reaching unprecedented levels on 2 and 3 October 2009. Depression in Bay of
Bengal resulted in heavy rainfall in short span of period in northern Karnataka
and southern Telangana regions in Andhra Pradesh. Heavy rainfall resulted flow
of excess runoff water into the river basins of Krishna, Tungabhadra and its
tributaries releasing floodwater from Almati and Narayanpur dams, as the levels
at Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams in Andhra Pradesh had reached alarming
levels. The discharge from the Karnataka reservoirs touched a historic high of
over 20 lakh cusecs on 2 and 3 October 2009.
Bijapur, Gulbarga, Bellary and Belgaum in Karnataka; Kurnool,
Mehboobnagar, Nalgonda, Krishna and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh were
the worst affected by the flood fury of 2009. Aerial view of flood affected areas
of Kurnool and Mehboobnagar districts is presented in the figure given below.

Fig. 8.10. Aerial view of flood affected areas of Kurnool and Mehboobnagar districts, Andhra Pradesh

Massive floods left 251 people dead and over five million homeless in
Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Irrigation officials have described it possibly as
the worst floods in over 10,000 years to have hit the two southern Indian states.
Irrigation authorities consider this as the heaviest flood in Krishna River after
106 years, a record 10.61 lakh cusecs of floodwater reached Prakasam Barrage
in 2009 as against the previous record of 10.30 lakh cusecs in 1903 when the
river was hit by the worst of floods ever. The river had virtually turned into a sea
in all its fury.
The water level touched 21.4 feet at Prakasam Barrage and all the 72 crest
gates had to be lifted to release the water into Bay of Bengal. A swollen Krishna
barely a few feet from the railway track downstream the Prakasam Barrage in
Vijayawada on 5 October 2009 is shown in Fig. 8.11. This was the heaviest flood
in River Krishna in more than 106 years.
The threat of floods looms large over thousands of people in Krishna and
Guntur districts of Andhra Pradesh. Several island villages in the Krishna
estuary have been inundated. In Andhra Pradesh the preliminary estimate of the
flood loss was Rs 12,225 crore, including Rs 19, 000 crore damage to dams,
roads, power, infrastructure and communication (The Hindu, 3–4 October 2009).

Fig. 8.11. Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, 5 October 2009


Descriptive Questions
1. What is meant by river system? Describe the different stages of river systems along with neat
sketches. Add a note on typical water falls of our country.
2. Describe in detail the geological work of rivers? Add a detailed note on the erosion of the
peninsular river system of our country.
3. What are floods? How are they caused? Enlist the effects of floods. Discuss the flood-prone
areas of our country and suggest the typical flood control measures presently being adopted.
4. Discuss how unprecedented flood havoc in Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers, Karnataka and
Andhra Pradesh resulted in 2009. Add note on the impact of these floods in Karnataka and
Andhra Pradesh. What is the role of Central Water Commission?
5. Describe in detail the peninsular and extra-peninsular rivers of our country. Discuss the
feasibility of linking of major rivers in our country.
6. What are ravines? How are they formed? Describe in detail the extent of ravines in India?
7. Write notes on:
(a) Peninsular rivers
(b) Extra peninsular rivers
(c) Godavari floods
(d) Ox-bow lakes
(e) Jog water falls
(f) Escarpment
(g) Badland topography
(h) Gorges and canyons
(i) Cresta, mesa and bute
(j) Shifting of river courses in India
(k) Flood-control programmes in India
(l) Treatment of soils
(m) Linking of rivers in India
(n) Shifting of river courses in India
(o) Kosi River floods

Supplementary Questions
8. How many stages of river system are recognized in the evolution of river system? What are
9. What is meant by river piracy?
10. Where is the highest waterfall in India?
11. Name the world’s greatest canyon.
12. Name the typical canyon of India.
13. Define Ferrle’s law.
14. Which river is called the ‘River of Sorrow’?
15. How much of India’s land area is estimated to be flood-prone?
16. List the districts in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh that have been affected by the massive floods
of Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers in 2009.
17. Why Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh was severely affected by 2009 floods?
18. List the areas in Mehboobnagar district that were severely affected by Krishna and Tungabhadra
river flood in 2009?
19. Irrigation officials have described the 2009 Krishna River flood possibly as the worst flood in
10,000 years to have hit the two southern Indian states. Justify the statement.
20. What was the level of water at Prakasam Barrage, Vijayawada recorded on 5 October 2009?
21. Irrigation authorities noted, the heaviest flood in the River Krishna in more than 106 years on 5
October 2009. Justify the statement.
22. Who proposed the first linking of Ganga- Cauvery rivers?
23. Name the world’s longest river linkage project.
24. What is the total catchment area of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Indus, Narmada, Tapi, Mahanadi,
Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery and Pennar river basins of our country?
25. List the places of origin of the River Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Ganges, Tapi, Narmada and
26. List the organizations responsible for monitoring the river floods in our country.
27. List the general flood preparedness programmes suggested by the experts.
28. List the rivers of our country that have changed their river course consequently resulting in
frequent floods.
29. How will you determine the change of river course?
30. What is the role of Ministry of Water Resources in flood control and river water management
Chapter 9

Geological Work of Oceans

Learning Objectives

➠ dynamics related to the oceans

➠ primary mechanisms operating along the coasts
➠ erosion caused by seas and oceans
➠ coastal protection measures in India
➠ recent trends and methods of coastal protection across the world

‘What’s Down There?’ A satisfactory answer to this age-old question about the
ocean eludes man.
From the moon, the earth appears as a water planet. The seemingly huge
continents appear as mere islands floating in the seas, which encompass more
than 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. The present technology has advanced
enough to explore planets that are millions of kilometres away, but has not yet
explored the ocean floor, which is only ten to eleven kilometres at its deepest.
The reasons for this are many. Nevertheless, it is mandatory for a civil engineer
to know more about the oceans and their geological work.
It has been estimated that oceans and seas cover an area of about 361
million square kilometres of the 510 million square kilometres of the entire
earth. About 1.4 billion cubic kilometres of water is concentrated in seas and
oceans. There are six oceans in the world namely the Pacific, North Atlantic,
South Atlantic, the Indian, the Arctic and the Antarctic. It has been estimated
that the Pacific Ocean covers about 49 per cent of the earth’s surface, the
Atlantic Ocean 26 per cent, the Indian 21 per cent and the Arctic 4 per cent.
Three primary mechanisms operate along most coasts and drive the nearly
continuous processes, namely, waves, tides and wind.
Waves are most important along the coasts. Waves are the result of the
transfer of wind energy to the water surface through the boundary shear along
the interface. Wave formation depends on the direction, intensity and duration of
the wind and the length of the water body across which the wind is blowing (Fig.
9.1). The direction of the wind controls the direction of wave motion. Wave
height increases if any of these factors increase. It also depends on the number of
seconds between wave crests.
Waves are classified depending on the period of duration. The classification
of waves is given in Table 9.1. Waves from capillary to swell are formed due to
wind action on the oceanic water. The surf beat is the wave train of smaller
waves. However, attrition depends on the nature and strength of the waves, types
of rocks, weatherability of rock fragments, etc.
Fig. 9.1. Wave formation

Table 9.1. Classification of Waves

Period in Seconds Waves

Less than 0.1 Capillary
0.1–1.0 Ripple
1–5 Chop
5–11 Sea
9–25 Swell
50–100 Surf beat
800–3000 Tsunami
8000–9000 Tide

Tsunami: Waves are generated mainly by tectonic movements particularly in the

faulted zones.
Tides are gravitational waves generated by gravitational force of the Sea-
Moon-Earth interaction.

Seas and oceans are continuously causing erosion of the rock particles along
their shores. However, erosion by the seas mainly takes place by the following
processes: (a) hydraulic action (b) abrasion (c) attrition (d) corrosion.
(a) Hydraulic Action: This process has already been discussed in Chapter 7
(Weathering of Rocks). Ocean waves, currents and tides exert considerable
hydraulic action on shorerock particles. However, this depends on (i) nature
of the coast (ii) types of rocks (iii) presence of joints, fractures in the rocks
(iv) chemical action of seawater (v) strength of the wave.
(b) Abrasion: Seawave action on rock fragments increases, depending on the
rock fragments. During wave motion, rocks are pulled out by the water and
hurled against the wave breakers. During high tides even resistant rocks are
capable of breaking down. To and fro movements of waves cause
continuous rubbing and grinding of the shore rocks. This action is known
as abrasion. However, abrasive action happens more rapidly in
unconsolidated sedimentary rocks, fractured and jointed crystalline rocks.
(c) Attrition: During wave transgression, eroded particles mechanically collide
with each other, bringing down the size grade of sand, silt and is known as
attrition. In this process, rock fragments lose angularity and become
subrounded to spherical depending upon the wave impact of the rock
fragments themselves.
(d) Corrosion: It is a process of disintegration of materials into their constituent
atoms due to chemical reactions with their surroundings. However, the
effectiveness of this process depends upon the chemical constituents of
seawater. Oxidation takes place in the presence of free oxygen. The air
dissolved water and the free oxygen of the atmosphere are the most active
chemical reagents. Ferromagnesian minerals undergo oxidation and result
into sulphates, carbonates and oxides. A well-known example of chemical
corrosion is termed as rusting.

▆ Marine Erosion Features

(1) Sea Cliff: Where sea waves are continuously cutting into a shore of a
moderately high land, it develops a steep front facing the sea. This is called
a sea cliff. Sea waves attack the whole length of the sea cliff. The sea
waves continuously influence the lower portion of sea cliffs, which in turn
results in the breakdown of the whole sea cliff (Fig. 9.2).
(2) Wave-Cut Terrace: After the breakdown of the sea cliff, the materials fall to
the base to furnish more tools with which the waves may batter the cliff. As
a sea cliff retreats, a shallow water shield develops. This is known as a
wave-cut terrace. (Miller, 1952). A wave-cut terrace usually slopes towards
the sea. Materials, which are cut away by waves, ground up to build the
wave-built terrace. Materials carried by shore-currents, build up bars, spits,

▆ Transportation
Weathered rock fragments, sand, silt, etc., are transported by sea waves and
currents. However, weathered rock particles are transported mainly by two
methods: (i) in suspension by drifting (ii) in solution. Suspended rock fragments
are carried away by the sea waves towards the sea. They are lifted and carried
offshore. Thus, long shore waves array the sediments almost parallel to the coast.
In due course of time, they build up bars across the coastal regions enclosing a
lagoon. A lake Pulicut is thus formed by this process.

▆ Deposition
Rock fragments, which are influenced by rivers, glaciers, wind, etc., accumulate
in the sea. Sea currents have the tendency to move sediments from the shore and
deposit coarser particles near the shore and the finer sediments towards the
seaward side. These sediments are separated out depending on their specific
gravity, size and shape. Sea waves move the rock fragments towards the shore
but returning undercurrents pull them back to the sea. This phenomenon of to
and action results in the formation of well sorted, rounded sand fragments.
Fig. 9.2. Sea cliff

Build-up Sediments
Construction waves sweep the sediments and they are deposited along the coast.
However, this process is periodic and forms sandbars, spits, cusps, etc.

Alluvial Deposits
River transportation brings huge amounts of fragmented materials and deposits
them at the estuary. Deltas are formed in this way. When these deltas increase,
they extend into the ocean. These alluvial deposits consist of gravel, sand and
silt. Such deposits are formed in the Godavari, Cauveri, Krishna, Ganges and
other extra-peninsular rivers.

Deposits in between Islands

The waves in between the islands exert less effect on the land mass, whereas,
constructive waves exert an active influence on the land. Hence, rock fragments
are deposited in due course of time and gradually build up. This results in
narrowing broad gaps. The best example is the portion between Sri Lanka and
India, which is gradually being built up. Several islands are interconnected in
Japan in the same way.

Deposits in/around Wave Breakers

Sea walls and groynes are constructed particularly in low-lying coastal zones in
the world. Wave velocity is checked at these places and sand gradually
deposited, builds up.

The fragmental or loose material ranging in size from very fine particles to huge
boulders shifted and ground up by the action of sea waves, tides, under toe and
shore current is termed the beach.
Generally, beaches consist of unconsolidated materials ranging in size from
silt to sand. Beach sediments will move according to the action of sea currents. It
is the general observation that beaches change from time to time depending on
the rise and fall of wave-tide along them.
Along the west coast beaches, particularly Kerala and Dakshina Kannada
and Uttara Kannada coast, seawater advancing inland has led to severe coastal
erosion and caused loss of coconut gardens, roads, etc. The best example is the
NITK/Karnataka Regional Engineering College, Surathkal beach, one of the
retreat coasts. This beach constantly changes its dimensions and levels (Fig 9.3).
The west coast of India is considered to be younger in geological age than the
east coast.
Classification of beaches is done on the basis of the nature and character of
the beach material. Two major groups have been identified, shingle beaches and
sand beaches. These materials differ depending on wave parameters and profile
of the sea. Further classification is based on the profile of beaches. The
classification of beaches is shown in Table 9.2.
Fig. 9.3. Retreat Coast along NITK/ KREC, Surathkal

Table: 9.2. Classification of Beaches

(i) Shingle beach: A shingle beach is composed of more or less well sorted
sand pebbles ranging in size from 1.2 mm to 3.4 mm. Shingle beaches
are steep and descend into deep waters. Sea wave currents break directly
on the step and the beach formed above this level is more or less shaped
by swash and backwash. Ripples are not formed on these beaches,
although surf may be present rarely due to a deep gradient and deep
(ii) Sand beach: Most beaches are of this type. They are composed mainly of
sands of varying sizes, shells, silt, etc. There is a difference between tidal
sand beaches and tideless sand beaches. Tidal sand beaches are further
subdivided into smooth profile and ridged profile. Tideless beaches are
subclassified into smooth profile and barred profile, the latter is further
subdivided based on the size of the bars into straight bar and crescentic
bar beaches.

Thousands of kilometres of coasts along the borders of the continents create a
variety of mixed engineering problems. All coasts are not the same. Some coasts
are stable and a few unstable. Coasts are the borders between continents and
oceans. However, in certain areas they are built up by sea deposition while in
others, are subject to extensive erosion.
The most direct cause of coastal erosion is the transport of sand from the
shoreline down to such a water depth that it no longer plays a role in coastal
dynamics. The determining factors for this coastal erosion process are still the
subject of intensive research. The main reasons for coastal erosion are as
(i) The process of beach and dune erosion during storm surges.
(ii) Sand-water interaction at the seabed and suspension of sand under
wave action.
(iii) Cohesive effects of dune-beaches.
(iv) Sea-level changes.
It is clear that the relative mean sea level can either rise or fall locally as a
result of a combination of factors. However, there is no specific cause for the
drop in sea level in high altitudes. There are certain places in the world where
the tidal range is less than a metre. In certain areas the tidal range is far above 5
m to 6 m or more. In normal weather fluctuations, the sea level rises only up to
20 cm, but in the case of Bay of Bengal it may rise up to one metre.
Geological evidence of ancient marine sediments on land reveals that the
continents of the world were once submerged beneath the sea. The continental
seas and coastlines of the world have fluctuated greatly in the past, time after
time the marginal seas grew and shrank over a period of millions of years. Rock
records (stratigraphic evidence) show that the magnitude of these marine floods
was greater in the earth’s earlier history than in more recent times.
Table 9.3 shows the geologic eras and periods during which the oceans
invaded the continents.
Relative sea level rise has the most alarming effect on the earth. Experts in
this field have given diverse explanations for the actual rise in the sea level. It is
certain that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been increasing inexorably
over the last century. Model studies and monitoring of sea levels in different
parts of the world have confirmed a rise in the sea level by 1 cm per century.
This is negligible in terms of the human lifespan but if we calculate the change
after a million years, it would reach 100 m. This is considered by geologists to
be an extremely rapid rate for a widespread phenomenon.

▆ The Indian Scenario

India has a long coastline of nearly 7,000 km along which several million people
live and are engaged in various activities. Erosion of varying nature causes loss
of life and property. The Indian coastline may be divided into the west coast,
facing the Arabian Sea and the east coast, facing the Bay of Bengal. The
characteristic features of the coastlines differ entirely with respect to erosion,
accretion and littoral drift along them and storm pattern to which they are

Coastal Erosion at the East Coast of India

The east coast of India was formed in the Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous
(about 140 to 120 million years ago). Some parts of the east coast protrude along
the coastlines because most of the peninsular and extra-peninsular rivers flow
into the Bay of Bengal, advancing the deltas along the shoreline. It has been
mentioned that the courses of river are due to tectonic causes, particularly
evident in the extra-peninsular rivers.
Many places in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal are
affected by sea erosion. The territorial waters off Andhra Pradesh and Tamil
Nadu coasts cover approximately 35,000 sq km. The coastal landforms along
this stretch include a linear rocky shore, tending NE–SW, giving rise locally to
sheltered bays in the northern part, deltaic build-up of the Krishna and the
Godavari rivers and wide coastal plains extending from the south of
Nizampatnam to Point Calimere. Further south, the wide alluvial zones and
prominent coastal lagoons, such as Kolleru and Pulicut lakes are followed by a
sandy, flat coastline up to Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar, where partly a
coral-line and rocky coast reappear.
Table 9.3. Geologic Eras of Continental Invasion by Oceans
The wave and current patterns originating from the southwest monsoon play
a significant role in shaping the coastal configuration. In general, accretion along
the beaches occurs during the northeast monsoon and erosion during the
southwest monsoon. Strong NE flowing, long shore currents are common all
along the coast. Studies in relation to sediment movement carried on near the
major parts show that the currents are capable of carrying a sediment load of
over 1 million metric tons per year.
The island of Rameswaram in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu is a 27
km long coral island made up of beaches and dunes, separating the Gulf of
Mannar from Palk Bay. The northern coast of Rameswaram Island shows signs
of extensive erosion by sea waves. It has been observed that sand dunes on the
Palk Bay side are being eroded during high-tide periods by sea waves.
Masilanathaswami temple and the adjoining shore in Tarangambadi and the
age-old port town of Cauvery-Poompattinam are in the Thanjavur coast, Tamil
Nadu. The Masilanathaswami temple, built about 600 years ago on the seashore
by the Pandya King Kulasekhara has now been reduced to pieces by ceaseless
battering of waves. The Vigneswara shrine and its front portion have been
washed away by the waves. The groyne put up centuries ago by the Danish
administration to protect the Danish fort has evidently resulted in the waves
changing direction and hitting the temple with greater fury. Many walls of the
Ardhamandapa of the temple, which are now in a precarious condition, may
collapse any moment. According to the local people, the sea has eroded about 10
metres deep into the land in just a year and the ferocity of the waves will further
increase with the onset of the northeast monsoon.
Similarly, the sea coast at Cauvery-Poompattinam, the ancient harbour
capital referred to in many Sangam classics, is also exposed to heavy sea
erosion. According to the data recorded by local people 40 years ago, the sea
was half a kilometre away from the Llanji Mandram site, today the sea has
advanced up to, the Llanji Mandram sand dunes (Anon, 1990).

Coastal Erosion – West Coast of India

The west coast of India is younger having emerged during the Cretaceous period
(about 100 to 80 millions years ago). The western coastline runs along the faults.
However, transgressions of the sea with resultant marine deposits have been less
in the west coast. The present configuration of the west coast is submergence in
the central part prograding in the west and emergence after an earlier
submergence. Tectonic movements have been responsible for the varied
geomorphology of the west coast.

Kerala Coast
Erosion of the Kerala coast is more severe. Kerala has a 590 km coastline, of
which about 460 km are subjected to erosion, especially during the southwest
monsoon (Fig. 9.4). Annually, about a 2.5 m wide strip of land is lost on an
average. Near Cochin, a 2 km wide strip has been eroded since 1850. The
Geological Survey of India (Marine Wing) carried out two successive surveys of
the Cochin Port area in 1986 and 1988 to evaluate various geological and
geotechnical causes leading to accretion/erosion in the offshore regions of the
port and siltation of the port, approach channels and harbour basin.
In the northern part of the area, sediment accumulation has been measured
at the rate of 3.6 cm/year and in the south approach channel at 9 cm/year. The
siltation rate is very high. (Badrinarayanan et al., 1992).
Fig. 9.4. Map of Kerala showing the morphology of the coast and beaches under erosion
Sea erosion has resulted in the loss and damage to houses and property. Sea
erosion also poses a threat to the safety of National Highway No. 17 and railway
lines at some places. The coastal region is the most thickly populated area.
Several important towns, including the headquarters of nine districts are situated
on the coast.
The construction of groynes totally intercepting littoral transport has had an
adverse effect on the coast. This was done some years back. In due course of
time, groynes began to trap the littoral drift and the beach on the downdrift side
of the wall was transformed into another erosion area. Given this experience, the
construction of groynes had to be modified or even abandoned.
Fig. 9.5. Geological map of a part of coastal area of Dakshina Kannada District, Karnataka, showing the
sites prone to severe sea erosion (After Ravindra and Krishna Rao, 1987)

In Kerala, the rivers are small and the quantity of sediments trapped by the
reservoirs is comparatively insignificant. Still the construction of several
reservoirs and also the removal of sand from the riverbed and even from the
coast for various purposes, such as construction activities and filling lowlands,
may have reduced the quantity of annual supply of sand to the coast. This might
be one reason for continuous coastal erosion.
Along the coast of Kerala, during the southwest monsoon period, waves
about four metres high generated by wind, pound the coast from the southwest
direction and erosion becomes severe. From September to April, instead of
waves, the coast is subjected to the action of swells approaching it from the west
and northwest. In October and November, squalls are frequent during which
time, wave action is severe.

Karnataka Coast
The west coast of Karnataka from Mangalore to Kawar is dominated by the
presence of a number of estuaries. These are Gurupur and Netravati near
Mangalore, Sitanadi, Swarnanadi, Chakranadi, Haladi near Coondapur,
Venkatpur River estuary, Bhatkal, Sharavati River estuary near Honnavar,
Agnashini River estuary near Ankola and the Kalinadi estuary near Karwar.
It has been observed that the shoreline from Mangalore to Karwar is more
or less straight. Hence, bars are developed along the coast. Along the coast from
Karwar to Mangalore, rocky cliffs are situated on the Precambrian crystalline
schists and gneisses. These crystalline rocks are capped by laterites and recent
The southwest monsoon is generally active in this region. Powerful waves
are generated by the stormy monsoon winds and dash against the coastal rocky
plains. It has been observed that due to sea erosion important shore features,
such as spits, raised beaches, bars and sand dunes are formed.
Observations and data available for the last 30 years indicate that severe
erosion is prevalent in the following beach areas in Dakshina Kannada (Fig. 9.5)
(Ravindra and Krishna Rao, 1987).
(1) Sasihitlu-Surathkal area (Mangalore Taluka)
(2) Panambur-Kulur area (Mangalore Taluka)
(3) Bengre-Tannirabavi area (Mangalore Taluka)
(4) Kolachikamble-Mulki-Hejmadi area (Mangalore-Udupi Talukas)
(5) Ullal-Someswara area (Mangalore Taluka)
(6) Mulur-Kaup-Kaipunja-Mattu area (Udupi Taluka)
(7) Hoode-Kemmannu-Kodi-Parampalle area (Udupi Taluka)
(8) Kodi-Kundapura-Gangoli area (Kundapura Taluka)
(9) Marvanthe-Gujjadi area (Kundapura Taluka)


Coastal management and protection are important tasks. India’s coastline is the
longest in the world, extending over 7,000 km. Erosion of the coastline occurs in
patches in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West
Bengal. The problem of sea erosion is more severe along the Kerala coast.
Sea Erosion has always been a problem for the Netherlands: Observance of the
geographic situation of the Netherlands explains the great effort necessary to
understand the phenomenon of coastal erosion and to design measures for
coastal protection, as the greater part of the country lies below storm-surge level,
while some of the polders are even 6 m below the mean sea level. This means
coastal protection is by no means luxury but a necessity for the safety of our
nation. With such high stakes, no one is prepared to gamble and the great
significance of coastal protection becomes apparent in the magnitude of the
research effort on this subject and the enormous coastal structures that have been
built. The historic Dutch saying ‘Wie water deert, die water Keert’ (He who is
offended by the sea, should defend himself against it) characterises the situation
(Hydro Delft, 1985).
Shoreline protection is the modification of the coast or coastal process in
some manner to reduce erosion, wave energy or the risk of loss. The two
important basic types of coastline protection are (i) Structural (ii) Non-structural.
Whereas, in the former, some engineering structure is built to minimize sea
erosion, in the latter, shoreline processes are modified without building huge
structures. The selection of the method depends on the coastal area, the
geomorphological conditions of the shoreline and so on.

▆ Structural
Structures have to be built to protect erodable materials from the sea. The
objective for design of these structures is to protect the coastal lines from sea
erosion. Structures and sea walls are built in parallel or angular positions
depending on the shoreline. Structures, such as breakwaters jetties, etc., are
designed to intercept incoming waves to reduce their velocity. Selection of the
type of jetty and its size, shape and structural design depend mainly on the
geological conditions and the expected wave tide in the zone.
Sea walls are constructed along the highly erodable sea coasts to reduce
wave action. Construction of sea walls temporarily minimizes erosion of the sea
but in due course of time another area will be affected. This is due to the direct
wave scour below foundations and corresponding failures. Past failures have
resulted from the absence of scour at their base or for wave-impact forces. Sea
walls have to be designed so as to absorb wave energy and to resist foundation
scour to protect the land behind the wall.
In India, coastal protection work has been undertaken by the respective state
governments of the coastal states. Failures of sea walls in coastal Karnataka and
Kerala have occurred not because of inadequate design, but due to scour and toe.
In our country, in particular along the west coast, Kerala and Karnataka
governments are spending huge amounts of money every year for maintenance
of sea walls.

Coastal Protection Work – The Case of Kerala

Coastal protection has been undertaken in Kerala since 1800. To protect the
narrow stretches along the beach in Varkala, 18 groynes were constructed. In
1921, a system of bund and groynes was built to protect Vypeen foreshore just
north of the present Cochin outlet. During the period extending up to 1949, sea
walls of about 8 km were constructed to protect the beach north and south of the
Cochin Harbour. At Purakad, a different system was tried with artificial
nourishment by beach sand. In Kozhikode, the creation of sand dunes by means
of wind fencing and protection of the dunes by growing grass suitable for coastal
conditions were employed. A patent type of automatic sinking shutter has been
tried at Punthura near Trivandrum. So far 320 km of the coast have been
Protection measures consisting mainly of sea walls and revetments are most
suitable for Kerala. Submerged breakwater beyond the surf zone parallel to the
shore can dissipate wave energy, preventing erosion. The submerged
breakwaters also help to reclaim the eroded coast. Certain improvements in the
design of sea walls were also suggested by an expert with considerable
experience in maritime structures. This improved design proved to be effective
and satisfactory (Pathapchandran Nair, 1990).

▆ Non-structural
Non-structural methods, such as grass dykes, beach nourishment and dune
reconstruction are measures that have a lower initial cost but entail higher
operational costs.
(a) Grass dykes: Recently the Netherlands government designed grass dykes for
protecting coastal zones. Cast mudflats and grasslands were cut down and
laid out in sections along the coast. This activity has proven satisfactory.
Even after 30 hours of random wave-attack on the grass dyke, it kept its
condition exceptionally well.
(b) Beach nourishment: This is the process of adding beach materials at the
upper coast level end of the littoral transport system and recovering the
coast down end.
(c) Dune reconstruction: This is the process of storing sand in the dunes for
times of storm wave erosion and rebridging the dune ridge after the storm
crosses over.
However, whether the methods used be structural or non-structural, it is
imperative that we protect our valuable coastlines from coastal erosion. Coastal
management is an important task.
We must save our coastal zones and natural resources of coastal areas for
future generations.


India has a long and opulent coastline of about 7,000 km length from Gujarat to
West Bengal via Kerala and Tamil Nadu, adding to the wealth of the country. A
large number of developmental activities like major and minor ports, fisheries,
harbours, etc., have taken shape along this coast, serving the country and helping
it in achieving its set goals within the appropriate time frame. However, the
country also faces a number of coastal engineering related problems like
shoreline stabilization (coastal erosion control), backshore protection (from
waves and storm surge), inlet stabilization and harbour protection along a
sizeable chunk of the coast. These problems if persistent cause a lot on the
exchequer of the nation and hence, there is a need for the mitigation of these
problems for the purpose not only of saving dollars, but also the precious coastal
land, plantations, property, etc.
A number of factors need to be considered in analysing the particular
coastal engineering problem, such as, hydraulic considerations include wind,
waves, currents, tides, storm surge or wind setup and bathymetry of the area.
Sedimentation considerations include the littoral material and processes (i.e.,
direction of movement, rate of sediment transport – net and gross, sediment
classification and sediment characteristics) and changes in the shoreline
alignment. Navigation considerations include the design craft or vessel data,
traffic lanes, channel depth, width, length and channel alignment. Control
structure considerations include selection of the appropriate protective works,
evaluating the type, use, effectiveness, economics and environmental impact.
As mentioned earlier, coastal engineering problems may be classified into
four general categories: shoreline stabilization (erosion control), backshore
protection (from waves and storm surge), inlet stabilization and harbour
protection (CEM, 2001). Once classified, there are various solutions available to
the coastal engineer for mitigation. Some of these solutions are structural (hard
options like groynes, breakwaters, sea walls, bulkheads, etc.) and some non-
structural (soft options like beach nourishment, sand dune rehabilitation and
vegetation, sand fencing, etc.). Structural solutions are very expensive, usually
massive and not eco-friendly. They require periodic maintenance too. Soft
options are eco-friendly, relatively expensive but need to be done on a
continuous basis or need a longer term to develop.
Of late, the trend in coastal erosion mitigation and protection has been
shifting. Newer concepts are emerging and inventive, up-to-date methods and
technologies are being developed, which are reasonably eco-friendly,
construction-friendly, relatively cheaper and address the root cause of the
problem without any side effects. Many non-traditional ways to armour, stabilize
or restore the beach, including the use of patented, precast concrete units,
geotextile-filled bags, bio-engineering, sand fencing and beach-face dewatering
systems are also being used in the field. These new technologies often involve
non-traditional materials or shapes. The initial cost and cost of removal, if
environmental impacts warrant, can be less than traditional methods at some
sites. The paper deals primarily with these novel solutions for coastal erosion
mitigation and protection.
▆ Reefs, Sills and Wetlands
Coral reefs are natural reefs and are massive calcareous rock structures that
slowly grow upward by secretions from simple animals living on the rock
surface. They exist in India at the Gulf of Mannar and the Lakshadweep Islands.
They also exist throughout the Florida Keys on both Florida coasts in USA, the
Hawaiian Islands. Fringing coral reefs border a coast, barrier reefs lie offshore
enclosing a lagoon and atolls encircle a lagoon. Under favourable growth
conditions, coral reefs build upward to form wide, broad platforms that are
exposed at low tide. Thus, they cause waves to break and to continue breaking
across the reef. Wave transformation processes across broad, flat coral reefs
include shoaling, refraction, reflection and energy dissipation by both bottom
friction and wave breaking. (See Fig.9.6.)
Artificial reef systems for shore protection increase the fill life of
renourished beaches and enhance recreational surfing in the area. No general
design rules exist. Numerical and physical models have recently been employed
for site-specific designs of artificial reefs in California and Australia for surfing.
These models aid in both wave breaker type design and in ensuring that the
structure will not create down-drift erosion. (Figs. 9.7 and 9.8)
In low wave-energy environments, natural, wide, fringe marshes (also
called wetlands) can provide sufficient erosion protection for upland areas.
However, for many reasons, the fringe marsh itself may erode and require
protection. Sills are typically low, small, continuous rock structures placed at
mean low water with some sand filled in the lee to provide a substrate for marsh
growth. (See Fig. 9.9) for various kinds of sills. Figure 9.10 displays stone sills
in combination with breakwaters on the Choptank River, US. After 5 years, the
silt is practically invisible as shown in the figure. Sills can thus be used in higher
wave energy regimes to establish inter-tidal marsh grasses that aid in shore
protection. Periodic marsh replanting and maintenance may be required under
higher wave energy conditions.
Fig. 9.6. A Natural Coral Reef System
Fig. 9.7. Artificial Reef of bamboo under development
Fig. 9.8. Laying the metal skeleton for the development of an Artificial Reef System

▆ Zoning and Building Codes

Any structural or non-structural change in the design, construction or alteration
of a building to reduce damage caused by flooding and flood related factors
(storm surges, waves and erosion) is considered a flood proofing alternative. A
storm surge elevation at one per cent exceedence level (100 year recurrence
interval) plus waves is employed to determine risk and insurance rates for
individual properties located on the flood maps. Insurance rates for buildings are
much lower for structures elevated above the 100 year flood level and are a
requirement these days, for all new construction in the coastal, high hazard zone
(including waves) in the US. In effect, these regulations become flood plain
zoning laws applicable to individual property owners and have resulted in a
reduction in government expenditures for insurance claims and disaster
assistance benefits in the US.
Fig. 9.9. Various kinds of sills

▆ Setback Limits
A second way to adapt is to limit construction close to the shoreline. The land-
use planning and construction siting is the most effective means to reduce
coastal storm hazards, particularly on eroding coasts. Here, the mechanism to
require change in old construction practices is the Coastal Regulation Zone Act
(CRZ). Through the CRZ, the government can provide funds to individual states
to help solve their own coastal hazard problems. As a result, many states have
developed coastal construction setback lines and zones that include historic
erosion rates at each site. The methods, definitions, widths, etc., vary from state
to state. A key element is the historic, average erosion rate at each site. Methods
to incorporate both coastal erosion and beach nourishment in the National Flood
Insurance Program in the US have been proposed but have yet to be formally
adopted. Clearly, coastal erosion increases the risk and beach nourishment
reduces the risk of coastal flood and wave damage.

▆ Retreat
Retreat is normally the final adaptation option. This includes relocation,
abandonment and demolition of coastal structures. In some cases, retreat could
be the only option left. But practically, all constraints (economic, environmental,
social, legal, etc.) must be evaluated before this option is adopted. This approach
may be employed by the governments to protect the nation’s shores from the
chronic effects of erosion and coastal flooding. Two examples from the US are
given here to illustrate the approach:

Fig. 9.10. Sills in combination with breakwaters (CEM, 2001)

Brighton Beach Hotel, Coney Island, New York
Relocation of a large, beach-front hotel on Coney Island, New York was done.
Twenty-four railway tracks were laid to span the entire hotel width and the
wooden pile supported hotel was lifted onto freight cars on each track. (Fig.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina

Very recently, relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has been completed by
the National Park Service (NPS), US Department of Commerce. The lighthouse
is on the east coast of Hatteras Island, located within Cape Hatteras National
Seashore Park, administered by the NPS. The original lighthouse built at this site
in 1803 was replaced in 1870 by the present structure, which is the tallest (61 m)
and perhaps the best-known brick lighthouse in the US. When built in 1870, it
was approximately 490 m from the shoreline. By 1935, this distance diminished
to about 30 m due to landward migration of this cape feature.
The government of Hawaii depends heavily on the tourism industry for its
revenue needs. It is buying coastal land from private owners for the natural
erosion to take place and to keep the beaches intact for tourism and recreation.
Fig. 9.11. Relocation of a hotel

▆ Geotextile Filled Bags

Geotextile materials or filter fabrics have a long history of foundation mats
beneath rubble mound structures, revetments, etc., and they have been used as
silt curtains to contain dredged materials in the water column. (See Figs. 9.12
and 9.13). They have also been formed into bags and long, sausage-shaped
cylinders called ‘Longard Tubes’ and filled with sand. They have been deployed
as revetments for dune protection, as nearshore breakwaters and grynes. There
has been a significant improvement in the quality and durability of geotextile
fabrics, making them suitable for a variety of coastal applications.
Fig. 9.12. Use of geotextile filled bags for revetments

▆ Beach Face Dewatering Beach Drains

Beach face dewatering by lowering the ground water table along the coastline
began in Denmark in the early 1980s by accident. After installation of a filtered,
seawater system for a seaside aquarium, it was discovered that the sandy beach
width increased, where the beach parallel, longitudinal pipe intake was buried
beneath the surface. Patents were obtained by the Danish Geotechnical Institute
(DGI) in many countries, including the United States where the system is called
‘Stabeach’ by the licensee, Coastal Stabilization Inc, NJ. Lowering the ground
water table is accomplished by draining water from buried, almost horizontal,
filter pipes running parallel to the coastline. The pipes are connected to a
collector sump and pumping station further inland. Gravity drains the ground
water beneath the beach and through the pipes to the sump and then water is
pumped from the sump. The sand-filtered seawater can be returned to the sea or
used for other purposes. (Figs. 9.14 and 9.15)
Fig. 9.13. Geotextiles for revetments
Fig. 9.14. Sketch indicating principles of beach drain sand fencing

▆ Sand Fencing
When dunes are destroyed by man, disease of beach grass, animal overgrazing,
etc., reconstruction of dunes is possible by this technique, i. e., by driving
wooden pickets to about 2 m height, parallel to the shoreline at the end of the
natural dune line. The porosity could be 50 per cent and the fence fills in a year,
if good wind is available. Fencing may be raised for another 2 m if required after
filling once. This has been used in the US, the UK and Kerala in India. (Fig.

▆ Do-nothing
One final alternative that must always be evaluated is the ‘do-nothing’ or ‘no-
project’ case. Whenever all structural and non-structural alternatives considered
are too costly, no economically viable solution exists. If the life-cycle costs for
protection or relocation exceed the value of the investment, then do-nothing is
the appropriate response. If the benefit to cost ratio exceeds unity, but social and
environmental constraints govern, then the no-action alternative plan can
become the recommended plan. When the natural, coastal sediment transport
processes (erosion and accretion) are the most important aspects (character,
attractiveness, aesthetics, etc.) of the system, then do-nothing may also be the
appropriate response.
Fig. 9.15. A layout of dewatering pipe system for beach drains
Fig. 9.16. Sand fencing used in US


Descriptive Questions
1. What are tides, waves and winds? How do they influence the movement of sea waves? Add a
note on the wave pattern analysis of Bay of Bengal and theArabian Sea.
2. Describe in detail the geological work of oceans/seas. Add a note on building of sediments
along the coast.
3. What are beaches? How are they formed and classified? Discuss the impact of greenhouse
effects on sea level changes across the world.
4. What is meant by coastal erosion? How are they caused? Discuss the coastal erosion of the
west and the east coast of India. Discuss the coastal protection measures.
5. What are the seawalls? Discuss the merits and demerits of seawalls. List the latest techniques
used for the protection of coastal areas.
6. What are the geological, geomorphological and geotectonical parameters which have been
responsible for severe coastal erosion in the west coast of Kerala?
7. Write notes on:
(a) Seawalls
(b) Beach nourishment
(c) Coastal erosion
(d) Oceans of the world
(e) Intergraded Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)
(f) Sea level rise and global warming
(g) Acidification of ocean waters
(h) Sediment transport problem along the shores
(i) Desalination for portable water from oceans
(j) Port and harbour
(k) Dredging and reclamation port channels
(l) Sea water intake structures
(m) Marine environment
(n) Mangrove development
(o) Salt water intrusion
(p) Human interference on coastal zones

Supplementary Questions
8. What is the volume of water concentrated in oceans?
9. How much of the earth’s area is covered by sea and ocean?
10. What is the difference between a sea and an ocean?
11. Which is geologically the youngest coast in India?
12. How much of the coastal area is subjected to sea erosion in Kerala and Karnataka?
13. List the National Institutes of Technology (Deemed University) located on the west coast of
14. What is meant by GSI (Marine wing), NIOT, DOD, NIO, DST, MHRD, CSIR, ISTE, AICTE,
15. What are non structural measures utilized for coastal protection?
16. What is meant by greenhouse effect, ozone depletion?
17. Why the Antarctica region is mostly affected by greenhouse effect?
18. What is the present rise of global sea level in the world?
19. Is Mangalore and Karwar coast straight or curved?
20. Name the temple in Thanjavur coast, Tamil Nadu that is influenced by sea waves/sea erosion.
21. Describe in detail the importance of marine geology while designing marine structures. Enlist
the importance of applying marine geotechnology while designing coastal structures.
22. What is the total coastal line of our country?
23. How much surface area of the earth is covered by oceans?
24. What is the average depth of the oceans?
25. What is the volume of ocean water?
26. What is the average temperature of the ocean?
27. What is the average salinity of ocean water?
28. Define port and harbour and state their importance.
29. State the importance of dredging operations in existing harbour channels in India.
30. State the importance of submarine pipelines for the transport of crude oil in India.
31. State the impact of marine pollution in India.
32. State the salt water intrusion problems in coastal zones of India.

* Dr Subba Rao, Department of Applied Mechanics and Hydraulics, National Institute of Technology,
Karnataka, Surathkal, Mangalore. (A Deemed University).
Chapter 10

Ground Water
Learning Objectives

➠ hydrologic cycle–sources and factors controlling ground water

➠ ground water movement
➠ ground water pollution and its control measures
➠ technology of rainwater harvesting
➠ geological work of ground water
➠ ground water hazards-civil engineering considerations

Water is the earth’s most distinctive constituent. It set the stage for the evolution
of life and is an essential ingredient for all life today. The total saline water
(oceans and seas) on earth estimates about 97 per cent (1320 million cu km) and
the freshwater accounts to 3 per cent. Almost 77 per cent of this freshwater
comes from the glaciers and ice caps, about 11 per cent from the ground water
up to 800 m, 11 per cent from the ground water below 800 m and 1 per cent from
the lakes, rivers, streams, etc. The 11 per cent of the ground water up to a depth
of 800 m is the actual amount of freshwater that can be extracted for use
(CGWB, 2009).
Ground water is one of the earth’s most widely distributed resources and is
increasingly catering to the requirements of the domestic, industrial and
agricultural sectors. The value of ground water as a source lies in the fact that it
is dependable even during the periods of scarcity and drought, is widely
distributed and can be put to use with ease and speed. Besides, ground water has
a very short gestation period and the resource is directly under the control of the
user. In our country, during the last few decades rapid progress has been made in
the development of ground water resources, especially for irrigation. From a
mere 6.5 million hectares in 1950–51, its contribution had increased to 34.8
million hectares by the end of 1989–90, accounting for about 45 per cent of the
total irrigation. Recent estimates on the replenishable component of the ground
water potential of the country work out to 45.22 Mha m/yr. Setting aside 15 per
cent of this potential for drinking, industrial and other uses, the utilizable ground
water resource for irrigation is 38.28 Mha m/yr. The estimated net extraction of
the ground water potential in the country is 27.8 per cent. As for the country as a
whole, there appears to be considerable ground water availability for future
development (Raju, 1990).
The above facts and figures clearly illustrate the present demand and
development of ground water in our country. How is ground water formed?
What is a hydrologic cycle? What is its role for the availability of ground water?
These questions are answered below.
Fig. 10.1. Hydrological cycle

The movement of water from the land to the ocean, from the ocean to the
atmosphere and back to the land is referred to as the hydrologic cycle. It is
shown in Fig. 10.1. The hydrologic cycle may take a long period to complete,
depending on the path taken.
Water evaporates from the oceans and is carried over the land in the form of
vapour. High mountain ranges cause the air particles to rise, they become cooler
and the vapour condenses finally falling as rainfall, hail or snow.
Before reaching the ground, part of the precipitation evaporates and a part is
transpired by plants. The remaining small amount of total rainfall runs off or
filtrates into the subsurface and enters an aquifer or water-bearing horizon. The
cycle of hydrologic components ranges over wide limits resulting in variations in
climate, vegetation, topography and geology.
The components of the hydrologic cycle play a vital role in the formation of
subsurface water. Precipitation is an important component in this cycle.
Precipitation is controlled by various factors. Most of the water molecules flow
in the form of runoff while only a few molecules enter the ground water table.
It has been estimated that the volume of water is 1,500 million cubic
kilometres, nearly all of which is stored in the oceans. Ground water is about 35
times greater than surface water. The proportions of the world water are given in
Table 10.1.
Table 10.1. Proportions of the World Water

▆ Sources of Ground Water

Based on the source, ground water can be grouped as: (i) meteoric water (ii)
connate water (iii) juvenile water (iv) mixed water.
Meteoric Water: This includes water derived from atmospheric precipitation in
the form of rainfall, sleet, hail, snow, etc. The water thus, derived is filtered by
surface water bodies, such as rivers, reservoirs, lakes, etc. A part of the
precipitated water returns to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, another
part flows over the area (depending on the local topography) as runoff and the
remaining small part will filtrate or percolate depending on the geologic and
physiographic conditions. Water that reaches the water table constitutes ground
Connate Water: The water entrapped in sedimentary rocks during their
sedimentation process is called connate water. Sedimentary rocks, such as
sandstone and limestone retain some water in their intergranular spaces even
after compaction of the rocks. Such a source does not yield sufficient quantities
of ground water.
Juvenile Water: This is also called magmatic water. During the cooling of
magma, its gaseous vapours separate from its vapour, which is gradually
condensed into superheated water and moves up to low temperature and pressure
Mixed Water: (a) Metamorphic water: This type of water is released only during
the process of metamorphism (b) Cosmic water: It is added from the water
content of meteors falling from the cosmic region.

▆ Factors Controlling Ground Water

(1) Rainfall: The amount of rainfall in any area plays an important role in
determining the ground water. It is estimated that about 5 cm rainfall in one
hour facilitates more runoff and results in less filtration. Contrarily, a
rainfall of about 5 cm in 24 hours facilitates less runoff and more filtration.
However, much depends on other factors, such as topography, vegetation,
evapotranspiration and water-bearing properties of rocks and soils and their
(2) Topography: This affects runoff and filtration. Steep slope ground activates
more runoff water and less filtration. In another situation, a gentle slope
region facilitates more or less equal runoff and filtration. In horizontal
ground, the runoff will be minimal and consequently increase filtration
adding more filtrated water to the subsurface water.
(3) Vegetation Cover: This has a marked effect on the recharge of ground water.
And therefore, if vegetation is very less or absent, it results in more runoff
and less filtration. However, when thick vegetation cover is compared with
grassland, filtration is more in the grassland than in the thick cover forest.
Thick cover vegetation also intercepts much of the rainfall and reduces the
(4) Evapotranspiration: Evaporation is caused by the action of solar radiation
and wind, which evaporates water molecules from such surface bodies as
rivers, lakes and reservoirs. This process may also be effected to a depth of
1 to 2 metres below the soil zone. All plants transpire water through their
green leaves and take less water from the shallow water-bearing
formations. The rate of transpiration depends on the atmospheric
temperature and velocity of the wind. High temperature with more velocity
of air activates more transpiration through the green leaves of the plants.
The combined process of evaporation and transpiration is commonly
referred to as evapotranspiration.
(5) Water-bearing Properties of Rocks and Soils: Water-bearing properties, such
as porosity, permeability, weatherability, fracturing, jointing and type of
rocks, play an important role in ground water formation. Highly porous and
permeable rocks or soils facilitate more recharge. Soils porous in nature
with less permeability reduce filtration. Hard rocks that are weathered,
fractured and jointed facilitate more intake of runoff water. Water-bearing
properties play an important role in the circulation of ground water. We
shall describe them since the field civil engineer should know these basic
properties of soils and rocks before interpreting the results of his findings.

▆ Water-bearing Properties of Soils and Rocks

Porosity, a water-bearing property, is the ratio of volume of voids to the total
volume of rock or soil. It can be expressed in an equation as:

Where, n is porosity, Vv is volume of voids and V is the total volume.

The porosity of rocks can be determined by drying the sample to a constant
weight and reweighing it after saturation with water. The volume of water
absorbed can be calculated from the following equation:

Where, n is porosity, wS saturated weight, wD dry weight, V volume and D

During natural formation of rock pores, voids and interstices develop. Such
originally developed porosity is known as original porosity or primary porosity.
Sedimentation and crystallization of igneous rocks and the flocculation process
in clay are responsible for the formation of primary porosity.
Secondary porosity is developed due to weathering and fracturing of rocks,
metamorphism, chemical reaction, biological processes, such as animal and
insect burrowing and penetration of root system into the soil or rock layers.
(a) Uniform Grained (Much

(b) Poorly-sorted (Little

(c) Grains Cemented with Pore Space) Pore Space) Mineral Matter (Little Pore Space)
(d) Porosity Due to Open Solution Cavities

(e) Porosity Due to Open Joints and Fractures

Fig. 10.2. The relation of rock texture and structure to porosity

Grain size, shape, roundness and angularity influence porosity. Uniform

grain size provides considerable pore space, whereas, poorly-sorted grains
restrict void space. This results in more porosity in well-sorted grains and less in
poorly-sorted grains. Cemented grains with mineral matter provide very little
pore space and consequently reduce porosity. Fractured and jointed blocks
provide large spaces for storage of ground water. Open solution cavities also
provide pore space.
Table 10.2. Average Porosities of Some Common Rocks and Soils

Material/Rock Average porosity (per cent)

Soil 50–60
Clay 45–55
Silt 40–50
Mixture of sand 35–40
Uniform sand 30–40
Gravel 30–35
Cavernous limestone 25–35
Sandstone 10–20
Vesicular basalt 5–10
Shale 1–10
Limestone 1–10
Crystalline massive granite, Gabbro, Gneisse, etc. 1–3

However, porosity depends on the arrangement, shape and size of the grains
and the rate of porosity depends on various factors. The average porosities for
some common rocks are listed in Table 10.2. The relation between grain size and
textures is shown in Figs. 10.2 a to 10.2 e.
Porosity is one of the basic water-bearing properties of soils and rocks. In
civil engineering, it is important to determine the porosity of the material.
Factors, such as compaction of grain sizes, cementation of pore spaces with
the finest materials, such as Fe2O3, SiO2 and clay metamorphism, deflocculation
of clays and weathering, etc., are to be considered while dealing with porosity. In
other words, porosity is the capacity of the substance to store subsurface water.

Specific Yield
Storage of ground water depends on the porosity of the rocks or soils. All the
water stored in the sub-surface layers cannot be recovered from wells. Large
amounts of water are always retained in the rocks due to the peculiar capillary
action forming a film around the particles. The volume of water available for
being drained out from the rocks is known as specific yield (Sy).
The volume of water retained in the rocks and not available for being
draining out is termed specific retention (Sr). Hence, the effective porosity =
Specific yield + Specific retention. These parameters of rocks or soils are
determined with pumping and recovery tests from wells in the area. However,
selective specific yields of selected rocks are presented in Table 10.3.

Fig. 10.3. Interrelation among the grain size of the material, porosity, specific yield and specific retention

Table 10.3. Specific Yield of Selective Rocks/Soils

Rocks / Soils Specific Yield
Limestone 0.5–5
Shale 0.5–5
Sandstone 5–15
Sand and gravel 15–25
Gravel 15–30
Sand 10–30
Clay 1–10

An interrelation exists among the grain size of the material, porosity,

specific yield and specific retention, which is represented in Fig. 10.3.

This is defined as the capacity to transmit water and other fluids through a unit
section in a unit time under a hydraulic gradient. It is also called the hydraulic
conductivity or capacity. In other words, it is the velocity of percolation. The
nature of ground water flow through permeable media varies. The rate of
hydraulic conductivity depends on the degree and nature of the arrangement of
grain from coarse to fine. For example, well-sorted materials of larger grain size
have a high hydraulic conductivity and permit the flow of large quantities of
water or other fluids.
Water-bearing properties, such as porosity, specific retention and hydraulic
conductivity play an important role in the movement of subsurface water.
Depending on their water-bearing properties, rock materials are classified as
aquifers or water-bearing and yielding formations.

Types of Aquifers
An aquifer is defined as a porous and permeable geological formation capable of
storing and yielding water in sufficient quantity. An aquifer is regarded as a
subsurface water reservoir. It transmits water from recharge to the storage
reservoir, depending on geological conditions. Good examples of aquifers are
alluvium, sand deposits, gravel deposits, buried river channels, weathered,
fractured and faulted rocks. Types of aquifers are shown in Fig. 10.4.
Fig. 10.4. Types of Aquifers

Aquiclude: Defined as a porous geological formation, the best examples are clay
and shales. They are highly porous, with a porosity of about 45–50 per cent.
They absorb water and form an impermeable layer that will not allow water to
percolate. A leaky or seepage aquiclude is also called an aquitard.
Aquifuge: Defined as a non-porous impermeable geological formation
completely devoid of open spaces, joints, fractures, etc., this formation does not
allow absorption or transmission of water. Examples: massive igneous rocks,
such as granite, gabbro, peridotite, dolertie and basalt; metamorphic rocks, such
as gneiss, quartzite and highly cemented indurated consolidated sedimentary
rocks. However, some hydrologists consider aquifuges as ground water barriers.
But weathered, fractured, faulted and sheared aquifuge formations do develop
secondary porosity.
Confined Aquifer: This is a body of ground water overlaid by sufficient
impervious layers that prevent free hydraulic connection with all the overlying
subsurface water. Thus, the earlier layer is underlaid and overlaid by two
different impervious layers serving as underground water barriers. Hence, the
recharged water accumulates in the previous layer with no outlet or free
movement. This water is under pressure and is confined to a single porous
formation. In such a condition, if a borehole is sunk, water will gush out with
great pressure. Such wells are commonly known as artesian wells. The first
confined aquifer was located in Lilliers, Artois Province, southern France in
1926. Hence, such confined aquifers are named throughout the world after the
Artois province under the label ‘Artesian wells’. If the water in the confined
aquifer is under hydrostatic pressure that is sufficient to cause a rise to the
surface, it is known as flowing well.
In a confined aquifer the water table is under pressure. The level up to
which water rises in an artesian well is called the Piezometric Surface.
Typical cross-sections of confined and unconfined aquifers are shown in
Fig. 10.4.
Typical Examples: Free-flow of ground water to the land surface due to artesian
condition of the aquifers exists in some parts of India. The most extensive free
condition exists in the alluvial aquifers of the Tarai and Tarai subregion at the
foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Besides these,
the auto flow conditions exist in the Cuddalore sandstone of Tamil Nadu,
Vaikom sandbeds of Kerala, Rajamundry, sandstone of Andhra Pradesh, tertiary
formation of Tripura, Plio-Pleistocene sediments in West Bengal, alluvium of
Sirowal belt of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab and alluvium belt of Cauvery
basin, Tamil Nadu.
These confined aquifers occur at various depth levels from 20 m to as high
as 400 m and above. The quantum of freely flowing water has a variation
depending on the nature of aquifer tapped and the type of ground water structure.
The available data indicates a free flow to the tune of 416 to 3300 lpm (25 to 200
m3/hour). The free flow of water has been found to dwindle in the course of
time, partly due to decrease in pressure head and partly due to ground water
development in and around the area.
In localized patches of the hard rock terrain of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa,
Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, occurrences of free flow have been reported at
few places. Due to the characteristics of a hydrogeological environment, these
flowing wells have subsequently ceased their function (Santosh Kumar Sharma,
Typical artesian aquifers are situated at and around the Neyveli lignite
fields, South Arcot district, Tamil Nadu. Three extensive high transmissivity
aquifers are situated below the lignite seams and about 145 flowing wells are
situated south of Neyveli, Tamil Nadu. Even today, dewatering of this field has
to be done round the clock to facilitate exploitation of lignite from the mines.
Another artesian aquifer is present in Bankura, Midnapore district, West
Bengal. A single artesian well is situated in the cultivated lands in the Tarai area
between Chutmalpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Dehra Dun (Uttranchal).
Apart from these artesian aquifers, low-pressure artesian aquifers are
situated in the eastern coastal deltaic plains of the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh
and Tanjavur district in Tamil Nadu.
Unconfined Aquifer: This is a body of underground water in a porous layer
having impervious layers only at the bottom, in which ground water possesses a
free surface open to the atmosphere. The upper surface of the zone of saturation
is called the water table. Changes in the state of the water table correspond to
changes in the thickness of the zone of saturation, when the water table declines,
gravity drainage of interstices occurs. In most places there is only one water
table, but in some localities because of the presence of aquitards or aquicludes
there may be perched aquifers with additional water tables. Most wells are
known from unconfined aquifers. The water table of unconfined aquifers cuts the
ground surface along valleys and slopes and subsurface water oozes out as

Aquifer Parameters
In order to evaluate the ground water potentialities of an aquifer, it is essential to
understand such aquifer parameters as the coefficient of storage S and the
coefficient of transmissibility T.
Coefficient of Storage: The S of an aquifer is defined as the volume of water
released from it or taken into storage per unit surface area of the aquifer per unit
decline or rise of head. This results in a dimensionless number. Under water
table conditions, the coefficient of storage is equal to the specific yield, provided
gravity drainage is complete. The S of a water table or unconfined aquifer ranges
from 0.02 to 0.30. However, there are no restrictive rules. The storage coefficient
of an artesian aquifer ranges from 0.0001 to 0.001.
Field Coefficient of Permeability: P has been defined as the rate of flow of
water in gallons per day through a cross-sectional area of 1 sq foot of the aquifer
under a hydraulic gradient of 1 foot per foot at prevailing temperatures of the
Coefficient of Transmissibility: T indicates the capacity of an aquifer to transmit
water through its entire thickness and is equal to the coefficient of permeability
multiplied by the saturated thickness of the aquifer. The coefficient of
transmissibility T is defined as the rate of flow of water in gallons per day
through a vertical strip of the aquifer 1 foot wide and extending the full saturated
thickness under the hydraulic gradient of 1 foot per foot at prevailing
temperatures (William C Walton). These hydraulic parameters were determined
during pumping and recovery tests and are evaluated by analysing and
interpreting field and other data. These parameters are very important for
understanding the movement of ground water, its storage and circulation.

▆ Ground Water Movement

In contrast to surface waters, the movement of ground water is extremely slow,
ranging from a few centimetres to a few hundred metres per year. The rate of
movement of ground water may be determined on the basis of permeability and
hydraulic gradient. This rate is altered significantly by changes in the hydraulic
gradient and the most common cause is pumping of aquifer. In regions of non-
utilization of ground water, it is exploited, movement is thus, restricted in the
subsurface reservoirs of the aquifer. However, in confined aquifers, due to
hydraulic pressure, ground water movement will take place through the
confining bed, even though it has very limited permeability. When this effect
takes place over a large area, it may result in significant quantities of ground
water moving through the confining bed, it may also be a major component in
the discharge of water from the aquifer.

Geological Work of Ground Water

The geological work of ground water involves processes, such as erosion,
transportation and deposition.
Erosion: We know that the rate of movement of ground water depends on
aquifer parameters, such as the storage coefficient, coefficient of transmissibility
and types of aquifers, rate of pumping, recharge and discharge aquifers. Ground
water movement is very slow compared to surface waters.
Mechanical weathering is insignificant as far as ground water is concerned.
Much of the erosion occurs through the chemical process. Ground water is an
active agent and dissolves rock materials in slow action. Pure water has the same
power to dissolve mineral matter but the carbonic acid gas and other gases,
which mix with it from the air and decompose organic material in the soil zone
increase the solvent action of ground water. The most common rock that is
soluble in solvent action of such underground water is limestone, which is
composed of calcium carbonate. Gypsum and dolomite have also been attacked
by these waters. However, hard minerals will resist the solvent action of water,
e.g., quartz, topaz, corundum. Feldspars are partially attacked by these waters.
Chemical weathering of ground water depends on the quality of the water.
Ground water pollution results from land disposal of untreated solid wastes and
other chemicals. The major factors that control pollution include reactions taking
place in the soil zone, unsaturated zone, laminar flow of pollutants, density,
viscosity effects and slow movement of pollutants. On reaching the saturated
zone, the pollutants spread out laterally and move in the direction of ground
water flow.
Polluted subsurface water will do more chemical work than others. Recent
estimates of the world’s ground water show that contamination has increased
with time. This leads to serious consequences in the quality of water, resulting
from severe chemical erosion of the subsurface waters.

Some Erosional Features

An important solvent action of ground water, particularly in limestone regions, is
the development of karst topography, sinks and holes.
Karst Topography: Karst is a region in (former) Yugoslavia, where the solvent
action of ground water has resulted in rugged topography. The term karst
topography is now universally accepted. It can be used to describe that situation
wherein the solvent action of ground water has directly resulted in a terrain in
which surface and subsurface features of relief and drainage exist. The solvent
action of soluble rocks is controlled by a number of factors, such as
hydrometeorogly, hydrogeology, aquifer parameters and quality and quantity of
subsurface water.
Limestones commonly produce a karst topography. Typical features of a
karst topography are: (i) large-scale depressions, caves, basins in the region (ii)
disruption of regular path of river courses in special cases even the
disappearance and reappearance of rivers are observed (iii) disturbance of land
forms and appearance of rugged topography.
Caves: An important solvent action of ground water in limestone regions is the
development of caves. The best example is the Mammoth cave, Kentucky, USA
which is about 200 km long and contains more or less 200 chambers. This
clearly illustrates the solvent action of subsurface waters.
Dissolution of rocks in non-karst areas also develops caves. The
Vaishnaodevi cave in Jammu and the Amarnath cave in Kashmir are famous
mountain caves.
Sink holes are developed by the solvent action of surface water which flows
into the cave. Caves and sink holes are formed by the solvent action of ground
water on the soluble lithological formations of the region (Fig. 10.5).

Ground water transportation is a very slow process. In some cases percolated
water may reach the water table, move along the subsurface water flow and
reach a stream. In some field conditions, ground water is added to river water.

Fig. 10.5. Diagrammatic illustration of sink holes in limestones

Cave Deposits or Stalactites and Stalagmites: The caves situated above the
water table pass the water downwards through the calcium-rich formation,
thereby enriching the water with calcium. Water drips along the cracks of the
caves. These water droplets deposit minor amounts of calcium carbonate after
the droplet evaporates. In due course, the calcium carbonate grows downwards
in a peculiar icicle-like pendant. These deposits projecting from the rooftop
towards the floor are called stalactites. The water that drops from the end of the
stalactite falls to the cave floor and deposits calcium carbonate in a dome or
conical shape that grows upwards. These deposits are known as stalagmites. The
two formations are shown in Fig. 10.6.

Fig. 10.6. Stalactites and Stalagmites

Spring Deposits: When ground water enters the surface of a spring, a

concentrated solution of salts is deposited around the latter. Spring deposits,
which are calcium rich are termed travertine and those that are silica rich,
siliceous sinter deposits.

▆ Exploration of Ground Water

Ground water is one of the earth’s most widely distributed replenishable
resources. Ground water caters to the requirements of the agricultural, domestic
and industrial sectors. It has been estimated that the ground water resource used
in the agricultural sector had increased up to 35 million hectares by the end of
the VII Plan (1989–90). Recent estimates of ground water potential are about
45.22 Mha/yr. We have already mentioned that the total ground water on the
earth is 35 times greater than the surface water.
These facts and figures clearly illustrate the available ground water
resource. In our country, even today, in certain localities people walk long
distances to get a pot of drinking water. We know that subsurface water is
available in appreciable quantities over surface water, but why are we not in a
position to tap this ground water resource? Water is available in the earth but not
distributed uniformly. The movement and availability of water is mainly
controlled by aquifer parameters. The composition and lithological variations of
the earth differ in subsurface layers depending on various factors.
The main objective of ground water exploration is to locate aquifers capable
of yielding water of suitable quality in economic quantities for domestic,
industrial and agricultural purposes. Ground water exploration is mainly carried
out employing geological, remote sensing, hydrogeologic and geophysical

Geological Methods
The basic data concerning ground water occurrence and yield can be studied
from the geology of the area. A geological map of the given area is required for
ground water investigation. It is necessary to study published field reports,
monographs prepared by the Geological Survey of India and available scientific
research publications. This information gives an overall picture of the
prospecting area. Geological maps of the entire country have been prepared by
the Geological Survey of India. It is necessary to prepare a micro level
geological map of the given area based on the actual field data. Such a map
clearly illustrates the lithology, contact zones of the litho-units and structural
features of the area. Here, we have to orient our interpretation for ground water
investigations. Structural features, especially fractures, fissures, joint pattern and
shear zone fault, play a significant role in the identification of aquifers.

Remote Sensing
A technique of interpretation that has made rapid strides in the last two decades
is remote sensing, whereby, information on an object on the earth is acquired by
remote registration of electromagnetic energy reflected and emitted by the object
without actual physical contact.
Remote sensing data both air and space borne cannot be used directly to
map ground water or aquifer conditions. The application of remote sensing data
gives us indirect inferences about the subsurface through surface expressions.
The interpretation of aerial photographs helps in understanding the
geomorphologic set-up, spatial distribution of lithology and structure of rocks
and hydrographic and hydrologic features of the region. The area likely to
contain water can be demarcated by identifying factors, such as favourable
geological features, e. g., valley fills, abandoned river channels, outcrops,
weathered zones, dykes, lineaments (faults, joints, fractures). Hydrologic
features, such as drainage pattern, river pattern and surface water bodies are also
delineated on the imageries.
Based on photo-interpretation techniques, aerial photos are interpreted.
Satellite imageries are extensively used to delineate various features. Various
bands are used to obtain clear pictures of the area depending on the purpose of
the study. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has achieved a
milestone in the field of remote sensing. Satellite imageries of the entire country
are available with the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad. Today
geologists and hydrogeologists extensively utilize satellite imagery of the target
area before going to the field. Geological maps coupled with aerial and satellite
imageries give detailed information of the region. Explorers can plan in advance
before implementing exploration.
However, let us note that remote sensing is only an additional tool in the
quest for ground water exploration and is not a substitute for other field methods.

Hydrogeologic Methods
The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Ministry of Water Resources has
recently published a hydrogeologic map of India, which illustrates the overall
hydrogeologic parameters of the region. It is necessary to study this map before
undertaking hydrogeologic studies of the proposed exploration area. The
occurrence and abundance of ground water in a given terrain mainly depends on
the water-holding capacity of the lithological types and their associate structural
features, which enable the rocks to allow the surface waters to percolate and
accumulate in the subsurface horizons. The distribution of ground water directly
depends on the nature of vertical and lateral extent of rock types, their
interconnected structural elements and the weathered profile capable of yielding
percolation of surface and subsurface waters (Raghava Rao, 1975). The
occurrence of abundant ground water is shown in the highly weathered and
fractured zone of a granitic terrain in Fig. 10.7.
Hydrometeorological characters, such as precipitation, humidity,
temperature and evaporation of a given basin affect the ground water conditions
of the basin. These hydrometeorological elements are to be analysed in detail for
implementing a hydrogeological survey. For instance, the rainfall record of many
years will give the overall picture of the rainfall of the basin.
In a hydrogeologic investigation, well-inventory plays a vital role. Well-
inventory studies throw more light on the ground water constitute of an area than
do other hydrogeologic aspects (Venkat Reddy, 1985).
A well-inventory study includes the dimensions of existing wells, soil type,
lithology, structural features, water-level fluctuations, depth of wells, length of
water column, mode of extraction of water, quality, etc. These details are to be
recorded on well-inventory data sheets. Each well-data record is systematically
analysed. Computers have recently been employed for documentation of well-
inventory data.
A hydrogeologic map of the given area is to be prepared on the basis of
such hydrogeologic factors as surface water bodies, their distribution and extent,
available well-inventory details and water table contours. Aquifers are to be
delineated with reference to the water table, lithological contacts, extent and
attitudes of structural features, recharge and discharge basins of ground water.
Thus, the hydrogeologic map prepared from the above information differs from
the basic geological map of the region. The overall hydrogeologic conditions of
the area are set up. Geophysical investigations play an important role in
hydrogeologic studies. These are most successful when used in combination
with geological methods.

Fig. 10.7. Occurrence of ground water in weathered and fractured zones of granitic terrain

Geophysical lnvestigations
Geophysical investigations are usually carried out after studying the geology and
hydrogeology of an area. They are employed to understand the nature of the
subsurface, lithology, depth of the basement, thickness and depth of the water-
bearing horizons, etc. Geophysical surveys are not only useful, but highly
economical and quicker in obtaining subsurface geological information.
Electrical, magnetic, induced polarization, seismic and gravity methods are
the most important geophysical methods used in exploration. These methods
make use of the physical properties of electrical conductivity, magnetic
susceptibility, elasticity and density. These physical properties differ depending
on the rock type, structure, degree of water saturation, physical, chemical and
mineralogical changes. These investigations are interpreted to decipher lithology,
structure, porosity, permeability, quality of water, etc. So scientists have applied
geophysical methods to solve ground water problems.
Electrical methods are extensively used for the exploration of subsurface
water. The principles, procedure and interpretation techniques are detailed in the
chapter on site investigation techniques.

Safe Yield
Safe yield is defined as the quantity of water that can be withdrawn from an
aquifer on an annual basis without causing an undesirable result. That includes
depletion, increment in salinity and higher pumping costs. Excessive pumping
will eventually result in the aquifer becoming unusable, especially when a
salinity increase is involved. An aquifer that has become saline through
overpumping will take a very long period to recover. In some instances of
salinity increase, the recovery period may be thousands of years. Safe
withdrawal is at a rate no greater than the intake, this applies in particular to
aquifers of relatively small storage.
In some circumstances, mining of ground water or withdrawal at a rate
greater than intake may be permissible. This situation arises where large
quantities of water are required for a limited period until other sources of supply
become available. Mining of underground water on a short-term basis might
therefore be a useful technique in the management of water resources.
Mining of ground water on a long-term basis leads to depletion and possibly
an increase in salinity within the aquifer in case of coastal aquifers. It should
only be carried out when the consequences are known and appreciated in relation
to the total water resources.
In due course of time minerals dissolve in the water. The dissolved mineral
constituent is called silt. If there is a very high concentration of dissolved
constituents, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium the water is
termed saline.

Ground Water Quality

The quality of ground water depends on the occurrence of various constituents in
it and their relation to its use. A knowledge of the occurrence and abundance of
various elements present in ground water is highly essential for evaluating its use
in domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes.

Ground Water for Domestic Consumption

The World Health Organization (WHO) has formulated an international standard
for drinking water. Excessive concentration of various constituents beyond the
permissible limits makes ground water non-potable. As a general guide, the
limits of concentration of important ions affecting potability and the
international standards for drinking water are presented in Tables 10.4 a and 10.4
Table 10.4 a. International Standards for Potable Water

Table 10.4 b. International Standards for Potable Water

Constituents Maximum concentration permissible (ppm)

Lead (Pb) 0.01
Cyanide (Cn) 0.01
Chromium (Cr) 0.05
Selenium (Se) 0.05
Arsenic (As) 0.20

Source: BHU-JAL News; Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India

In addition to the constituents given in Table 10.4 a, a list of substances,

which may endanger health together with the levels of concentration that may
not be exceeded in potable drinking water is given in Table 10.4 b.
For human consumption, ground water levels should not exceed permissible
Bacteriological Studies: Drinking water should not contain bacteria, viruses,
helminths, protozoa, leptospiras etc. Therefore, for safer consumption the ground
water distribution system should be chlorinated.

Ground Water Pollution

Ground water is a natural and high-quality source of water for domestic,
agricultural and industrial needs. In India, ground water in most cases is the only
source of safe drinking water.
The greatest danger of ground water pollution is from surface or near-
surface sources, such as man-made or created activities, waste dumps, sanitary
and chemical landfills, septic tank systems, municipal waste, water ponds and
fertilizers applied during irrigation. Areas with a thin soil cover or where the
aquifer is exposed, such as a recharge area, are most critical from the point of
view of ground water pollution (Raju, 1990).
Ground Water Pollution Due to Industrial Effluents: Ground water pollution
resulting from land disposal of untreated liquid and solid wastes has become a
serious problem in the country. Contamination of ground water by toxic
constituents is a major environmental problem about which awareness has
developed only in the last few years.
Most of the industries use water in varying proportions. Water may be
directly used as a part of the product, as a solvent and medium for chemical
reactions, for cooling, washing products, containers, machines, etc. The waste
discharged carries with it numerous dissolved and suspended impurities, the
composition of which varies with the industry and the process used.
Systematic studies have been done in India to monitor ground water
pollution from industrial sources only in a few places, e.g., Ludhiana, Faridabad,
Kanpur, Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Coimbatore. Elsewhere in the country, ground
water pollution studies have been carried out patchily. High concentrations of
trace elements, much higher than the background values, have been observed at
several places (Kakar, 1990).
Ground Water Pollution Due to Solid Wastes From and Human Activities:
Wastes in solid state are produced as a result of various human activities. Wastes
produced in residential areas are termed domestic solid wastes, those produced
from commercial and industrial areas are similarly designated commercial and
industrial solid wastes.
In India, municipal solid waste (which includes domestic and commercial
wastes) is produced at an average rate of 0.33 kg/capita/day. Thus, 185 million
urban population is expected to produce 22.35 × 106 tonnes of municipal solid
waste every year. Processing of solid waste is rarely carried out and it is often
disposed of in an untreated state. Disposal of waste is feasible only in the coastal
areas and in the majority of cases, the waste is disposed of in low-lying areas,
where it often comes into contact with surface or ground water, thereby polluting
it. (Bhide, 1990).
(1) The disposal of solid waste often occurs in uncontrolled land disposal sites.
(2) Water flowing over such sites tends to carry pollutants along with it.
(3) Part of the rainwater percolates and tends to pollute ground water.
Sometimes the wastes are disposed of in low-lying areas where they come
into contact with ground water. The extent of pollution introduced is quite
severe and the chemical pollutants tend to persist for long periods and
hence should be avoided.
Ground water pollution is caused due to bacteriological pollution, fertilizer
use, etc.

Pollution Control Measures

(1) The basic objectives are to reduce the volume of waste or cause
physical/chemical alteration in the characteristics of the waste.
(2) Reduction in the volume of waste, particularly in industry, includes
recycling, resource recovery, centrifugation, filtration, sand-drying,
chemical fixation, detoxication. degradation, waste circulation and
recirculation of leachates.
(3) Leachates produced from deposited solid waste will tend to pollute the
ground water unless prevented by : (a) proper site selection, which will rule
out such a possibility (b) whenever possible, an impermeable membrane or
at least impermeable soil layer should be provided along the bottom and
sides of the deposit so that pollution of the ground water is avoided.
(4) Maximum use must be made of ground water taking care that it is available
to the people before any sources of contamination have access to it. Where
this cannot be ensured in the distribution system, the ground water must be
chlorinated. Great care has to be taken that the rate of withdrawal of water
does not exceed the rate of recharge.
(5) Facilities have to be provided to the public health departments for regular
simple bacteriological water analysis in all districts.
(6) Education in public health, hygiene and economic utilization of all water
resources is to be promoted. This must be accompanied by an explanation
of the special precautions, which must be applied for proper collection and
storage of drinking water.

Coastal Aquifer Management

Development of ground water resources in coastal zones is facing major
problems of salinit, influx during high tides particularly through estuaries and
maintaining a hydrodynamic equilibrium between freshwater aquifers and
saltwater aquifers to control saltwater intrusion.
Karanth (1985) lists four situations usually encountered while developing
and managing ground water resources in areas where there is salinity zonation:
(1) Saline water underlies freshwater in homogeneous and isotropic medium
underwater table conditions.
(2) Saline water underlies or overlies freshwater, the two separated by an
impervious or semipervious layer.
(3) Freshwater laterally grades into saline water.
(4) Freshwater zones alternate with saline water zones.

Saline Water Intrusion

Saltwater intrusion into a coastal freshwater aquifer is a serious problem. In our
country, this situation mainly arises in coastal belts, in particular, Tamil Nadu,
Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat. Case studies of seawater intrusion along coastal
aquifers have illustrated that if the freshwater aquifer is contaminated by
seawater, that aquifer is unfit for utilization and human consumption.
Overdrafting coastal aquifers leads to intrusion of saline water. Studies
show (Karanth, 1985) that ground water extraction changes the dynamic balance
between the flow of freshwater and the interface so that the interface will move
and attain an equilibrium position governed by the quantity extracted and the
balance outflow of freshwater to the sea. The position of the interface can be
computed on the basis of the quantity of flow, for which several equations are

Protection of Coastal Aquifers

Protection of freshwater aquifers along the coast and preventing saltwater
intrusion is a national task. Experts in this field have suggested remedial
measures to protect coastal aquifers. Todd (1955) has listed the following: (1)
reduction pumpage from existing wells and rearrangement of pumping pattern
(2) artificial recharge of intruded aquifers (3) development of pumping trough in
the region adjoining the coast (4) creation of a freshwater ridge by artificial
recharge (5) construction of subsurface barriers.
In India, particularly along the Gujarat coast, artificial recharge to control
the saline water intrusion and salinization of ground water troughs along the
coastal tract of Saurashtra were taken up by the Central Ground Water Board.
Control measures are underway for a few more coastal zones. Coastal aquifers
must be protected from saline water for future generations.

Ground Water Hazards – Civil Engineering Considerations

Ground water storage in a particular aquifer depends on its aquifer
characteristics. In natural conditions, depending on the recharge and discharge
conditions, aquifers either store water or become depleted. Storage and depletion
conditions in the region directly influence water table fluctuations in the
Before planning for major civil engineering projects, it is necessary to know
the ground water fluctuations, storage, its recharge and discharge conditions and
aquifer characteristics of the basin. A few ground water hazards are listed below
in civil engineering works.
Dams and Reservoirs: Before laying the foundation of a dam, it is necessary to
thoroughly know the ground water conditions of the area. Seepage of the
reservoir is a major problem. Water table conditions and possible seepage
conditions are to be calculated before the execution of the project. Civil
engineers design the reservoir structure and position based on ground water
conditions of the given basin.
Storage of the reservoir water directly influences the lowering and raising
level in the surrounding wells of the project. It is commonly observed that
seepage conditions and inclination of the ground result in a rise of the water
table in the influence zone of the reservoir.
Dams are constructed to arrest the free flow of river water. Wells situated
much below the dam on the downstream side show a decrease in ground water
storage, which in turn, results in lowering of the water table. In certain cases,
shallow wells dry up in the downstream region.
Tunnels: Tunnels are driven to create a passage for transportation of passengers,
water, sewage, gas, etc. During excavation of tunnels the passage may be
through or below the ground water table. This depends on the aquifer
characteristics and structural features of the area. Synclinal folded, layered rocks
generally facilitate storage of water in artesian conditions. When a tunnel is
excavated through a porous sedimentary rockbed, enormous water under artesian
pressure may be discharged into the tunnel system. In such cases civil engineers
have to design safety measures for maintaining the tunnel system. The ground
water seepage problem differs with different rock types and with various
geostructural conditions of the region. Hence, it is necessary to know the
subsurface water conditions before the execution of the tunnel system in order to
effect safety measures.
Highways and Landslides: Ground water creates hazardous problems during the
laying of highways. Steps have to be taken to reduce the ground water problem
by creating water-drain facilities and strengthening the highway.
Ground water plays a major role in landslides. Seepage of water in steep
slopes lowers the strength of the rock material, which in turn, results in creep of
the strata and causes a slide.
Civil engineers have to take all possible civil engineering precautionary
measures to reduce ground water problems in major civil engineering
constructions. Detailed case studies of ground water problems are discussed in
the chapters on dams and reservoir, tunnels, landslides and environmental


Ground water is one of the important water resources. In India, a considerable
amount of ground water is still available, which can be effectively used for
agricultural, domestic, industrial and other uses. In our country, geographically a
large extent is covered by hard rocks. The ratio of subsurface water recharge or
infiltration to rainfall is customarily estimated at 9 per cent to 13 per cent. It is
also further estimated that even in the high rainfall regions of the west coast of
India and Western Ghats, which receive about 3,500 to 4,500 mm rainfall in a
year, the phreatic aquifer is too thin to infiltrate even 9 per cent to 10 per cent of
the precipitation. In alluvial terrain, the ratio of recharge to rainfall is 15 per cent
to 25 per cent depending upon the nature of the soil and local geomorphological
conditions. It is further estimated by experts that only 12 per cent of rainwater
was being used in the country. The rest flowed into the sea. Only 10 per cent of
surface water and 90 per cent of ground water were being used for drinking
Excessive exploitation of ground water in many parts of our country has led
to the shortage of drinking water and water used for agriculture. According to a
study carried out by the World Resource Institute, it is especially the countries
that are near semi-arid and arid regions that are in critical water availability
situation. The World Bank estimates that by the year 2025, 3.25 billion people in
52 countries will live in conditions of water shortage. It is estimated that almost
two-thirds of water used for short-term consumption is not available for future
use. The actual requirement of water for drinking and keeping alive is just two
litres per head per day. This is what the majority of people are subsisting on
today. In USA, the per capita consumption per person is 1300 gallons (5910
litres) per day.
India is blessed with an average annual rainfall of about 117 cm as against
the global average of only 70 cm. This annual precipitation amounts to as much
as 370 million hectare metre of water, which is adequate for our requirements
(Radhakrishna, 2003). Vagaries of monsoon and withdrawal of ground water in
excess from the aquifer system in many parts of India and elsewhere results in a
continuous decline of the water table causing economic problems and
deterioration of water quality. The problem is manifold in hard rock regions
where the water table has gone below the weathered zone and it can be extracted
only from the deeper fractured zones. The aquifer system in many hard rock
areas has been over exploited. In many places, farmers have drilled borewells
without knowing the potential of the aquifer system and thereby ended up in a
debt trap due to failure of borewells (Thangarajan, 2002).
The rapid and accelerated development of ground water in the country has
led to the decline in ground water levels in some critical areas and a consequent
stress on ground water resources. The tube well and pump technology have been
responsible for raising agricultural prosperity and for meeting the demands of
domestic and industrial needs. The human impact due to direct use of ground
water supply, industry and agriculture and non-completion of surface water
schemes, is putting stress upon ground water. This in turn has resulted in marked
lowering of ground water levels. In certain parts of the country, ground water
levels are depleting very fast causing adverse environmental impact and resource
crunch. This has resulted in imbalance of ground water system at many places in
the country causing a threat to ground water sustainability. The situation can be
mitigated by launching massive rainwater harvesting and recharging
programmes countrywide (Chadha, 2000). Systematic research and model
studies of the typical lithological formations are required before adopting
rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge structures.
Ground water development and rainwater harvesting are the topics on
priority (Venkat Reddy, 2002). M.S. Swaminathan, the noted agriculture expert
states, ‘the first priority should be for water security. The greatest payoff with
limited investment will come from strengthening community water harvesting
and management systems. Every drop of rainwater will have to be harvested,
stored and used conjunctively with ground water, wherever possible, for raising
high value but low water requirement.’

▆ What is Rainwater Harvesting?

It is the principle of collecting and using precipitation/rainfall from a catchment
surface. Rainwater harvesting is not something new, it has been practiced from
time immemorial. An old technology is gaining popularity in a new way.
Rainwater harvesting is enjoying a renaissance of sorts in the world, but it traces
its history to biblical times. Extensive rainwater harvesting apparatus existed
4,000 years ago in Palestine and Greece. In ancient Rome, residences were built
with individual cisterns and paved courtyards to capture rainwater to augment
water in the city’s aqueducts. As early as the third millennium BC, farming
communities in Baluchistan and Kutch impounded rainwater and used it for
irrigation dams (CGWB, UNESCO, 2000). Some NGOs have made a beginning
in reviving this technique and several success stories are reported especially in
Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This should convince the
government agencies of the efficacy of these techniques in solving water
problems of the country as a whole. The United Nations Organization (UNO)
had adopted the slogan ‘Water is future’. Harvesting of rainwater is the only
solution to overcome water shortage in the country.
As a contribution to solve the world’s water problems, in 1965 began the
International Hydrological Decade (IHD), the first worldwide programme to
study the hydrological cycle. It is basically a scientific and educational
programme for finding practical solutions to the world’s real water problems.
Under the IHP programme of UNESCO, Central Ground Water Board, Ministry
of Water Resources, Government of India, published ‘Rainwater Harvesting and
Artificial Recharge to Ground Water – A Guide To Follow’. The Central Ground
Water Board, engaged in Artificial Recharge Studies since 1985, has developed
new designs and methods that are eco-friendly and suit the socioeconomic
structures of the country.

▆ Artificial Recharge to Ground Water

The artificial recharge to ground water is the process by which the subsurface
water reservoir is augmented by modifying the natural movement of surface
water utilising suitable construction techniques. Any human-made structure that
adds surface water to an aquifer system is considered as ‘Artificial recharge

▆ Why Rainwater Harvesting?

(1) Surface water is inadequate to meet people’s demands (drinking,
agricultural, industrial) and we have to depend on subsurface water.
(2) Rapid urbanization, construction of huge buildings, asphalt, cement roads,
etc., have made most of the subsoil areas impervious, thereby reducing
the infiltration of rainwater. It has resulted in the decrease of both
infiltration capacity and recharging of ground water.
(3) Rapid and accelerated development of ground water in many parts of the
country resulted in the drastic decline of ground water levels. The aquifer
system in hard rock terrain has been over exploited in our country.
(4) Required to enhance the sustainable yield in areas where the ground water
availability is depleted.
(5) Rainwater harvesting in the form of conservation and storage for future
requirements (within the seasonal need base) in non-rainy seasons.
(6) Artificial structures/rainwater harvesting enhances the availability of
ground water at a specific place and time. The subsurface reservoirs
constructed on suitable hydrogeological terrains are environment friendly
and an economically viable proposition.
(7) Rainwater harvesting improves the water quality through dilution process
in the aquifer.
(8) Rainwater harvesting measures indirectly arrest seawater intrusion in
coastal aquifers.
(9) Rainwater harvesting measures also improve the vegetation cover.
(10) Rainwater harvesting measures allow the rise of the ground water levels in
drying wells and excess recharge for future requirements.
(11) Recycling of urban and industrial waste waters.
(12) Use the existing defunct wells and bore wells after cleaning and also the
operational wells as recharge structures.

▆ Planning of Artificial Recharge Projects

The basic requirements for artificial recharge projects are:
(a) Availability of non-committed, surplus monsoon runoff in space and time.
(b) Identification of suitable hydrogeological environment and sites for creating
subsurface reservoirs through cost effective artificial recharge techniques
(CGWB, 2000).
Planning for successful artificial recharge projects requires the following:
(1) Identification of a suitable area and site for the development of rainwater
harvesting techniques/artificial recharge structures.
(2) Meteorological studies of the region.
(3) Hydrometeorological studies of the region.
(4) Hydrological studies.
(5) Soil infiltration studies.
(6) Hydrogeological studies of the region.
(7) Geophysical surveys of the selective sites.
(8) Chemical quality of the source water.
(9) Assessment of subsurface potential for ground water recharge (CGWB,
The artificial recharge projects are site specific and even the replication of
the techniques from similar areas are to be based on local hydrogeological and
hydrological environments. The first step in planning the project is to demarcate
the area of recharge. Recharge sites are to be selected from detailed scientific
studies starting from the estimation of rainfall of the region and other
meteorological elements. A detailed hydrological map of the region is to be
prepared incorporating available surface water data of the project-planning site.
Hydrological studies are to be carried to work out surplus rainfall runoff, which
can be harnessed as source water for artificial recharge. In order to establish the
infiltration capacity of the artificial recharge site, detailed tests have to be carried
out for the establishment of the infiltration capacity of soils and lithological
formations of the proposed artificial recharge site. Hydrogeological parameters
are the basic requirements for assessing the aquifer parameters of the region.
Detailed hydrogeological studies are required in preparing the hydrogeological
map of the project site. Ground water level measurements of the existing wells
of the proposed project are required to assess the ground water fluctuations of
the region. Detailed geophysical surveys are to be carried out in selective sites
for the confirmation of the subsurface hydrogeological conditions of the region.
The application of proper geophysical surveys will confirm the aquifer system,
estimation of saturated and unsaturated zone, direction and movement of sub-
surface water, saltwater intrusions, etc. Quality of recharge water must be
analysed for bacteriological and chemical parameters before supplying the
source water into the artificial recharge structures. A detailed interpretation of
these surveys will facilitate the preparation of potential unsaturated zones in
terms of total volume, which can be recharged.
The government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
institutions, researchers, faculty, individuals who are interested in submitting
artificial recharge projects or seeking technical assistance for the evaluation of
artificial project sites or in any technical matters in selecting, the feasible site for
rainwater harvesting structures, etc., can write to:
The Chairman,
Central Ground Water Board,
Ministry of Water Resources,
Jamnagar House, Mansingh Road, New Delhi.
E-mail: niccgwb@sansad.nic.in; cgwa@vsnl.com
Web site: www.cgwaindia.com

▆ Rainwater Harvesting Techniques

(As per the guide published by CGWB / IHP / UNESCO, 2000, for awareness
and implementation of rainwater harvesting techniques and artificial recharge to
ground water for common public, industries and organizations). There are two
main techniques of rainwater harvesting:
(a) storage of rainwater on the surface for future use
(b) recharge to ground water
The storage of rainwater on the surface is a traditional technique and
structures used are underground tanks, ponds, check dams, weirs, etc. Recharge
to ground water is a new concept of rainwater harvesting and the structures
generally used are:
(1) Pits: They are constructed for recharging shallow aquifers. These are
constructed 1 to 2 m wide and 2 to 6 m deep, which are back filled with
boulders, gravels and coarse sand.
(2) Trenches: These are constructed when the permeable strata is available at a
shallow depth. Trench may be 0.5 to 1 m wide, 1 to 1.5 m deep and 10 to
20 m long depending upon the availability of water.
(3) Dug Wells: Existing dug wells may be utilized as recharge structures and
water should pass through filter media before putting it into dug wells.
(4) Hand Pumps: The existing hand pumps may be used for recharging the
shallow/deep aquifers, if the availability of water is limited. Water should
pass through filter media before diverting it into hand pumps.
(5) Recharge Wells: Recharge of wells of 100 mm to 300 mm diameter are
generally constructed for recharging the deeper aquifers and water passes
through filter media to avoid choking of recharge wells.
(6) Recharge Shafts: For recharging the shallow aquifers, which are located
below clayey surface, recharge shafts of 0.5 m to 3 m diameter and 10 m to
15 m depth, are constructed and back filled with boulders, gravels and
coarse sand.
Fig 10.8. Check dam

Fig 10.9. Percolation tank

Fig 10.10. Rooftop water collection and recharge

Fig 10.11. Typical cross section of recharge pit trench
Fig 10.12. Recharge through Borewell in hard rock area
Fig 10.13. Rainwater harvesting through dug well recharge

Fig 10.14. Gabion structure

(7) Lateral Shafts with Bore Wells: For recharging the upper as well as deeper
aquifers depending upon availability of water a lateral shaft 1.5 to 2 m wide
and 10 to 30 m long with one or two bore wells is constructed depending
upon the availability of water. The lateral shaft is back filled with boulders,
gravels and coarse sand.
(8) Spreading Techniques: When permeable strata form the top layer, this
technique is used. The water is spread in streams/nalas by making check
dams, nala bunds, cement plugs, gabion structures or a percolation pond
(CGWB, 2000).
Typical rainwater harvesting/artificial recharge techniques (check dams,
percolation tanks, cement plugs, subsurface dykes, injection wells, recharge
shafts, dug wells, lateral shaft with bore wells, artificial recharge shaft cum
injection well, recharge through trench, recharge through dug well, etc.), which
are being utilized in our country are shown in (Figs. 10.8 to 10.14).
[Source: CGWB, UNESCO, brochure, 2000]


• Rise in ground water levels in wells
• Increased availability of water from wells
• Prevents decline in water wells
• Reduction in the use of energy for pumping water and consequently the cost.
It is estimated that for lifting ground water, a one-metre rise in water level per
well saves about 0.40 KWH of electricity
• Reduction in flood hazard and soil erosion
• Benefitting the water quality
• Arresting seawater ingress in coastal aquifer system
• Assuring sustainability of the ground water abstraction sources and their
rehabilitation as recharge structures
• Effective use of lakhs of defunct wells and tube wells as recharge structures
• Upgradation of social and environmental status (CGWB, 2000)


Artificial recharge techniques are adopted where?
(1) Adequate space for suitable storage is not available especially in urban
(2) Water level is deep enough (> 8m) and adequate subsurface storage is
(3) Permeable strata are available at shallow/moderate depth.
(4) Adequate quantity of surface water is available for recharging ground water.
(5) Ground water quality is bad.
(6) There is possibility of intrusion of saline water, especially in coastal areas.
(7) The evaporation rate is very high from surface water bodies in other areas,
rainwater-harvesting techniques may be adopted (CGWB, 2000).


▆ Schemes Implemented by Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of
Water Resources (up to the year 2000)

• In Yavatmal, Jalgaon district, six percolation tanks, two recharge shafts and
one injection well were constructed – a total of 546 ha area has been
• In Amaravati district, three percolation tanks and ten cement plugs benefitting
an area of 280 ha and 100 ha respectively have been constructed – rise in
water levels up to 10 metres have been recorded.

NCT of Delhi
• Artificial recharge through four check dams in Jawaharlal Nehru University
and IIT, Delhi created storage of 4,600 to 22,180 cubic metre – water levels
in the wells recorded a rise of 0.8 to 13 m and benefitted an area of 75 ha.
• Rooftop rainwater harvesting and recharge through two injection wells in the
IIT campus – rise of 0.51 m in water levels.
• Rooftop rainwater harvesting to recharge ground water through injection well
in one of the CSIO buildings – rise of 2 m in water level.

• In Mulabagal taluka of Kolar district, 21 check dams, 23 boulder checks, 460
m2 vegetable checks, 790 m2 gully revetment, one percolation tank, 35 rubble
checks were constructed and two minor irrigation tanks were desilted – rise
of 5–10 m in water levels in the area. Crop intensity increased from 150 to
200 per cent.
• Gravity recharge through borewells in two areas in Gouribidanur taluka led to
rise in water levels.

▆ State Governments
Madhya Pradesh
• More than 1000 check dams, 1,050 tanks and 1,100 community lift irrigation
schemes were implemented in Jhabua district, Madhya Pradesh. Drought
proofing was achieved and food production increased by 38 per cent in the
past five years.
• Microwatershed project was started with people’s participation in Ghelhar
Choti village, Jhabua district – cultivable areas increased and yield per
hectare doubled.
• Low cost small farm reservoirs alongwith improved crop and soil
management systems tried in Chhattisgarh region, Madhya Pradesh –
augmented ground water storage, saved paddy from water stress during
extended dry spells in 1990–91 and 1991–92.
• District administration in Dewas made roof-top rainwater harvesting
mandatory for all houses having tube wells and banned tube well drilling –
improved soil moisture and recharged first aquifer.

• DRDA in Rajkot, Gujarat implemented 50 micro-watershed projects – rise in
ground water levels reported.
Andhra Pradesh
• Percolation tanks and check dams constructed in chronically drought affected
Rayalaseema region helped in drought proofing.

• More than 7000 percolation tanks were built in Maharashtra after the severe
drought of 1971–72. All areas under the influence of the percolation tanks
were converted into green lands.

Tamil Nadu
• Chennai Metro Water Board has made rooftop rainwater harvesting mandatory
under the city’s building regulations. The decision has led to a rise in ground
water levels.

▆ Non-governmental Organizations
• Sadguru Water and Development Foundation constructed a number of
concrete check dams involving local residents and implemented watershed
management in Thunthi Kankasiya village in Dahod district – villagers get
water round the year and ground water levels have risen.
• In Dhoraji village of Rajkot district, the farmers have started recharging their
wells – crops cultivated even during drought.
• Development Support Centre implemented microwatershed projects –
drinking water problem solved to a great extent.
• In Raj-Samadhiyala village of Rajkot district, villagers built 12 check dams –
the village once declared a desert area is no more a water scarce area.
• Residents of Ghandhidham village in Mandvi taluka of Kutch district
constructed a dam on Khari River and undertook a microwatershed project –
drinking water needs and irrigation of additional area of 400 hectare
• Rooftop rainwater harvesting and recharging of wells as a movement initiated
by the Saurashtra Lok Manch Trust in Mandlikpur village of Rajkot district
has prevented drying up of wells.
• Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Junagadh and Serendranagar districts,
Saurashtra harvested rainwater by check dams and percolation ponds
involving beneficiary farmers – optimum utilization of harvested rainwater
• Vivekanand Research and Training Institute in Kutch, Bhavnagar and Amreli
districts constructed rainwater-harvesting structures – helped in improving
ground water quality and controlling the decline in water level.

• Experiments of catchment treatment were carried out at Adgoan and Plaswadi
in Aurangabad, Ralegoan Siddhi in Ahmedanagar and Naigaon in Pune by
Shri Anna Hazare – efforts have led to a revival of settlements and
enhancement of the availability of ground water in the watershed.

• Tarun Bharat Sangh has taken up desilting and deepening of village ponds and
built water harvesting structures and johads with villagers’ participation in
more than 750 villages – the once dry streams have become perennial.
• In Jodhpur district, Gramin Vigyan Vikas Samiti motivated the residents of 25
villages and built 200 storage tanks (tankas) – each house has a tanka (a
water collection structure) lined with lime and alum to keep the water fresh
for four to five months.


Descriptive Questions
1. What is meant by hydrological cycle? Discuss the various components of it. Add a note on the
world’s water proportions.
2. Enlist the sources of ground water. Describe the geological work of ground water with suitable
examples. Add a note on ground water related problems in engineering projects.
3. What is an aquifer? How are they formed and classified? Add a detailed note on the depletion
of ground water in our country.
4. What are the methods for ground water exploration? Discuss the merits and limitations of each
survey in ground water exploration. Add a note on the role of Central Ground Water Board
(CGWB) in ground water exploration and management in the country.
5. What is meant by rainwater harvesting? Discuss the advantages and limitations of rainwater
harvesting methods.
6. What is meant by artificial recharge structures of ground water? Describe in detail the various
techniques and design of artificial recharge structures. Discuss benefits and limitations of
artificial recharge structures in ground water development and management.
7. What is meant by rooftop rainwater harvesting? Describe with the help of neat sketch the
various components which are utilized in rooftop rainwater harvesting design. Discuss the
importance and benefits of rooftop rainwater harvesting techniques.
8. Write short notes on:
(a) Confined and unconfined aquifer
(b) Artificial recharge structures
(c) Rooftop rainwater harvesting
(d) Check dams
(e) Percolation tanks
(f) Cement plugs
(g) Subsurface dykes
(h) Injection well
(i) Recharge shafts
(j) Dug wells
(k) Cloud seeding
9. What is meant by ground water development and management? Discuss the present status of
ground water development programmes in our country with review case in points.
10. Discuss the causes and effects of ground water pollution in our country. Add a note on ground
water pollution control measures.
11. What is meant by salt water intrusion? How will coastal aquifers be intruded with salt waters?
List the salt water intrusion problems in our country. Give suggestive measures for control of
salt water intrusion in coastal aquifers.
12. What is meant by ground water hazards? How civil and mining engineering structures were
influenced by ground water. Suggest the measures to minimize the ground water hazards in
engineering projects.

Supplementary Questions
13. What is connate water?
14. What is meteoric water?
15. What is juvenile water?
16. What is cosmic water?
17. Define porosity and permeability.
18. What is an aquifer?
19. What is an aquiclude?
20. What is an aquifuge?
21. What is confined and unconfined aquifer?
22. What is stalactite and stalagmite?
23. What is meant by Karst topography?
24. What is meant by safe yield?
25. What is meant by ground water hazard?
26. What is meant by rainwater harvesting?
27. What is meant rooftop rainwater harvesting?
28. What is meant by artificial recharge structures?
29. What is the role of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) in India?
30. What is meant by ground water development and management?
31. What is a recharge well?
32. What is a recharge shaft?
33. What is the spreading technique in rainwater harvesting system?
34. What is a check dam?
35. What is a percolation tank?
36. What is a cement plug?
37. What is a subsurface dyke?
38. What is an injection well?
39. What is a gabion structure?
40. What is a recharge pit?
Chapter 11

Tips on Earthquake Resistant Design

and Construction
Learning Objectives

➠ types of earthquakes and faults

➠ quantitative measures such as magnitude and intensity
➠ location of different seismic zones in India
➠ seismic design philosophy for buildings


▆ The Earth and its Interior
Long time ago, a large collection of material masses coalesced to form the earth.
A large amount of heat was generated by this fusion and slowly as the earth
cooled down, the heavier and denser materials sank to the centre and the lighter
ones rose to the top. The differentiated earth consists of the Inner Core (radius
~1,290 km), the Outer Core (thickness ~2,200 km), the Mantle (thickness ~2,900
km) and the Crust (thickness ~5 to 40 km). Fig. 11.1 shows these layers. The
inner core is solid and consists of heavy metals (e.g., nickel and iron), while the
crust consists of light materials (e.g., basalts and granites). The outer core is
liquid in form and the mantle has the ability to flow. At the core, the temperature
is estimated to be ~2,500°C, the pressure ~4 million atmospheres and density
~13.5 gm/cc, this is in contrast to ~25°C, 1 atmosphere and 1.5 gm/cc on the
surface of the earth.
Fig. 11.1. Inside the Earth

▆ The Circulations
Convection currents develop in the viscous mantle, because of prevailing high
temperature and pressure gradients between the crust and the core, like the
convective flow of water when heated in a beaker (Fig. 11.2). The energy for the
above circulations is derived from the heat produced from the incessant decay of
radioactive elements in the rocks throughout the earth’s interior. These
convection currents result in a circulation of the earth’s mass, hot molten lava
comes out and the cold rock mass goes into the earth. The mass absorbed
eventually melts under high temperature and pressure becoming a part of the
mantle, only to come out again from another location, some day. Many such
local circulations are taking place at different regions underneath the earth’s
surface, leading to different portions of the earth undergoing different directions
of movements along the surface.
Fig. 11.2. Local convective currents in the mantle

▆ Plate Tectonics
The convective flows of the mantle material cause the crust and some portions of
the mantle to slide on the hot molten outer core. This sliding of the earth’s mass
takes place in pieces called Tectonic Plates. The surface of the earth consists of
seven major tectonic plates and many smaller ones (Fig. 11.3). These plates
move in different directions and at different speeds from those of the
neighbouring ones. Sometimes, the plate in the front is slower, then, the plate
behind it comes and collides (and mountains are formed). On the other hand,
sometimes two plates move away from one another (and rifts are created). In
another case, two plates move side-by-side, along the same direction or in
opposite directions. These three types of inter-plate interactions are the
convergent, divergent and transform boundaries respectively (Fig. 11.4). The
convergent boundary has a peculiarity (like at the Himalayas) that sometimes
neither of the colliding plates wants to sink. The relative movement of these
plate boundaries varies across the earth, on an average, it is of the order of a
couple to tens of centimetres per year.
Fig. 11.3. Major tectonic plates on the earth’s surface

Fig. 11.4. Types of inter-plate boundaries

▆ The Earthquake
Rocks are made of elastic material and so elastic strain energy is stored in them
during the deformations that occur due to the gigantic tectonic plate actions that
take place in the earth. However, the material contained in rocks is also very
brittle. Thus, when the rocks along a weak region in the earth’s crust reach their
strength, a sudden movement takes place there (Fig. 11.5), opposite sides of the
fault (a crack in the rocks where movement has taken place) suddenly slip and
release the large elastic strain energy stored in the interface rocks. For example,
the energy released during the 2001 Bhuj (India) earthquake is about 400 times
(or more) that released by the 1945 Atom Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Fig. 11.5. Elastic strain build-up and brittle rupture

The sudden slip at the fault causes an earthquake, a violent shaking of the
earth when large elastic strain energy release spreads out through seismic waves
that travel through the body and along the surface of the earth. Once the
earthquake is over, the process of strain build-up at this modified interface
between the rocks starts all over again (Fig. 11.6). Earth scientists know this as
the Elastic Rebound Theory. The material points at the fault over which slip
occurs usually constitute an oblong three-dimensional volume, with its long
dimension often running into tens of kilometres.

Fig. 11.6. Elastic rebound theory

▆ Types of Earthquakes and Faults
Most earthquakes in the world occur along the boundaries of the tectonic plates
and are called Inter-plate Earthquakes (e.g., 1897 Assam [India] earthquake). A
number of earthquakes also occur within the plate itself away from the plate
boundaries (e.g., 1993 Latur [India] earthquake), these are called Intra-plate
Earthquakes. In both types of earthquakes, the slip generated at the fault during
earthquakes is along both vertical and horizontal directions (called Dip Slip) and
lateral directions (called Strike Slip) (Fig. 11.7), with one of them dominating

Fig. 11.7. Type of faults

▆ Reading Material
Bolt, B.A. 1999. Earthquakes, Fourth Edition, W.H. Freeman Company, New York, USA
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.
▆ Seismic Waves
Large strain energy released during an earthquake travels as seismic waves in all
directions through the earth’s layers, reflecting and refracting at each interface.
These waves are of two types – body waves and surfacewaves, the latter are
restricted to near the earth’s surface (Fig. 11.8). Body waves consist of Primary
Waves (P-waves) and Secondary Waves (S-waves) and surface waves consist of
Love waves and Rayleigh waves. Under P-waves, material particles undergo
extensional and compressional strains along the direction of energy transmission,
but under S-waves, they oscillate at right angles to it (Fig. 11.9). Love waves
cause surface motions similar to that by S-waves, but with no vertical
components. Rayleigh waves make a material particle oscillate in an elliptic path
in the vertical plane (with horizontal motion along the direction of energy

Fig. 11.8. Arrival of seismic waves at a site

P-waves are the fastest, followed in sequence by S-, Love and Rayleigh
waves. For example, in granites, P- and S-waves have speeds ~4.8 km/sec and
~3.0km/sec, respectively. S-waves do not travel through liquids. S-waves in
association with effects of Love waves cause maximum damage to structures by
their racking motion on the surface in both vertical and horizontal directions.
When P- and S-waves reach the earth’s surface, most of their energy is reflected
back. Some of this energy is returned to the surface by reflections at different
layers of soil and rock. Shaking is more severe (about twice as much) at the
earth’s surface than at substantial depths. This is often the basis for designing
structures buried underground for smaller levels of acceleration than those above
the ground.

Fig. 11.9. Motions caused by body and surface waves (Adapted from FEMA 99, non-technical explanation
of the NEHRP recommended provisions)

▆ Measuring Instruments
The instrument that measures earthquake shaking is called a seismograph and
has three components namely the sensor, the recorder and the timer. The
principle on which it works is simple and is explicitly reflected in the early
seismograph (Fig. 11.10), a pen attached at the tip of an oscillating simple
pendulum (a mass hung by a string from a support) marks on a chart paper that is
held on a drum rotating at a constant speed. A magnet around the string provides
required damping to control the amplitude of oscillations. The pendulum mass,
string, magnet and support together constitute the sensor, the drum, pen and
chart paper constitute the recorder and the motor that rotates the drum at
constant speed forms the timer.

Fig. 11.10. Schematic of an early seismograph

One such instrument is required in each of the two orthogonal horizontal

directions. Of course, for measuring vertical oscillations, the string pendulum
(Fig. 11.10) is replaced with a spring pendulum oscillating about a fulcrum.
Some instruments do not have a timer device (i.e., the drum holding the chart
paper does not rotate). Such instruments provide only the maximum extent (or
scope) of motion during the earthquake for this reason they are called
seismoscopes. The analog instruments have evolved over time, but today, digital
instruments using modern computer technology are more commonly used. The
digital instrument records the ground motion on the memory of the
microprocessor that is in-built in the instrument.
▆ Strong Ground Motions
Shaking of ground on the earth’s surface is a net consequence of motions caused
by seismic waves generated by energy released at each material point within the
three-dimensional volume that ruptures at the fault. These waves arrive at
various instants of time, have different amplitudes and carry different levels of
energy. Thus, the motion at any site on the ground is random in nature with its
amplitude and direction varying randomly with time.
Large earthquakes at great distances can produce weak motions that may
not damage structures or even be felt by humans. But, sensitive instruments can
record these. This makes it possible to locate distant earthquakes. However, from
the engineering viewpoint, strong motions that can possibly damage structures
are of interest. This can happen with earthquakes in the vicinity or even with
large earthquakes at reasonably medium to large distances.

▆ Characteristics of Strong Ground Motions

The motion of the ground can be described in terms of displacement, velocity or
acceleration. The variation of ground acceleration with time recorded at a point
on the ground during an earthquake is called an accelerogram. The nature of
accelerograms may vary (Fig. 11.11) depending on the energy released at the
source, type of slip at fault rupture, geology along the travel path from fault
rupture to the earth’s surface and the local soil (Fig. 11.11). They carry distinct
information regarding ground shaking, peak amplitude, duration of strong
shaking, frequency content (e.g., amplitude of shaking associated with each
frequency) and energy content (i.e., energy carried by ground shaking at each
frequency) are often used to distinguish them.
Fig. 11.11. Some typical recorded accelerograms

Peak amplitude (peak ground acceleration, PGA) is physically intuitive. For

instance, a horizontal PGA value of 0.6 g (= 0.6 times the acceleration due to
gravity) suggests that the movement of the ground can cause a maximum
horizontal force on a rigid structure equal to 60 per cent of its weight. In a rigid
structure, all points move with the ground by the same amount, and hence
experience the same maximum acceleration of PGA. Horizontal PGA values
greater than 1.0 g were recorded during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in USA.
Usually, strong ground motions carry significant energy associated with shaking
of frequencies in the range 0.03–30Hz (i.e., cycles per sec).
Generally, the maximum amplitudes of horizontal motions in the two
orthogonal directions are about the same. However, the maximum amplitude in
the vertical direction is usually less than that in the horizontal direction. In
design codes, the vertical design acceleration is taken as 21 to 32 of the
horizontal design acceleration. In contrast, the maximum horizontal and vertical
ground accelerations in the vicinity of the fault rupture do not seem to have such
a correlation.

▆ Resource Material
Bolt, B.A. 1999. Earthquakes, Fourth Edition, W.H. Freeman & Company, New York, USA.
Authored by: C.V.R. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.
▆ Terminology
The point on the fault where a slip starts is the Focus or Hypocentre and the
point vertically above this on the surface of the earth is the Epicentre (Fig.
11.12). The depth of focus from the epicentre, called as Focal Depth, is an
important parameter in determining the damaging potential of an earthquake.
Most of the damaging earthquakes have shallow focus with focal depths less
than about 70 km. Distance from the epicentre to any point of interest is called
epicentral distance.
A number of smaller size earthquakes take place before and after a big
earthquake (i.e., the Main Shock). Those occurring before the big one are called
Foreshocks and the ones after are called Aftershocks.

Fig. 11.12. Basic terminology

▆ Magnitude
Magnitude is a quantitative measure of the actual size of the earthquake.
Professor Charles Richter noticed that (a) at the same distance, seismograms
(records of earthquake ground vibration) of larger earthquakes have bigger wave
amplitude than those of smaller earthquakes (b) for a given earthquake,
seismograms at farther distances have smaller wave amplitude than those at
close distances. These prompted him to propose the now commonly used
magnitude scale, the Richter Scale. It is obtained from the seismograms and
accounts for the dependence of waveform amplitude on epicentral distance. This
scale is also called Local Magnitude scale. There are other magnitude scales, like
the Body Wave Magnitude, Surface Wave Magnitude and Wave Energy
Magnitude. These numerical magnitude scales have no upper and lower limits,
the magnitude of a very small earthquake can be zero or even negative.
An increase in magnitude (M) by 1.0 implies 10 times higher waveform
amplitude and about 31 times higher energy released. For instance, energy
released in a M 7.7 earthquake is about 31 times that released in a M 6.7
earthquake, and is about 1000 times that released in a M 5.7 earthquake. Most of
the energy released goes into the formation of heat and fracturing rocks, and
only a small fraction of it (fortunately) goes into the seismic waves that travel to
large distances causing shaking of the ground en-route and hence damage to
structures. (Did you know that the energy released by a M 6.3 earthquake is
equivalent to that released by the 1945 Atom Bomb dropped on Hiroshima!)
Table 11.1. Global occurrency of earthquakes

Source: http:/neic.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/eqstats.html
Earthquakes are often classified into different groups based on their size
(Table 11.1). Annual average number of earthquakes across the earth in each of
these groups is also shown in the table, it indicates that on an average, one Great
Earthquake occurs each year.

▆ Intensity
Intensity is a qualitative measure of the actual shaking at a location during an
earthquake, and is assigned as Roman Capital Numerals. There are many
intensity scales. Two commonly used ones are the Modified Mercalli Intensity
(MMI) scale and the Medvedev-Sponhener-Karnik (MSK) scale. Both scales are
quite similar and range from I (least perceptive) to XII (most severe). The
intensity scales are based on three features of shaking – perception by people
and animals, performance of buildings and changes in natural surroundings.
Table 11.2 gives the description of Intensity VIII on MSK scale.
Table 11.2. Description of shaking intensity VIII as per MSK scale

Intensity VIII - Destruction of Buildings

(a) Fright and panic. Also, persons driving motor cars are disturbed. Here and there branches of
trees break off. Even heavy furniture moves and partly overturns. Hanging lamps are damaged.
(b) Most buildings of Type C suffer damage of Grade 2, and a few of Grade 3. Most buildings of
Type B suffer damage of Grade 3, and most buildings of Type A suffer damage of Grade 4.
Occasional breaking of pipe seams occurs. Memorials and monuments move and twist.
Tombstones overturn. Stone walls collapse.
(c) Small landslips occur in hollows and on banked roads on steep slopes, cracks develop in ground
up to widths of several centimetres. Water in lakes becomes turbid. New reservoirs come into
existence. Dry wells refill and existing wells become dry. In many cases, changes in flow and
level of water are observed.

Note: • Type A structures – Rural constructions, Type B – Ordinary masonry constructions, Type C – well-
built structures
• Single, Few – About 5 per cent, Many – About 50 per cent, Most – About 75 per cent
• Grade 1 Damage – Slight damage, Grade 2 – Moderate damage, Grade 3 – Heavy damage,
Grade 4 – Destruction, Grade 5 – Total damage
The distribution of intensity at different places during an earthquake is
shown graphically using isoseismals, lines joining places with equal seismic
intensity (Fig. 11.13).

Fig. 11.13. Isoseismal map of the 2001 Bhuj (India) earthquake (MSK Intensity)

▆ Basic Difference: Magnitude versus Intensity

Magnitude of an earthquake is a measure of its size. For instance, one can
measure the size of an earthquake by the amount of strain energy released by the
fault rupture. This means that the magnitude of the earthquake is a single value
for a given earthquake. On the other hand, intensity is an indicator of the severity
of shaking generated at a given location. Clearly, the severity of shaking is much
higher near the epicentre than farther away. Thus, during the same earthquake of
a certain magnitude, different locations experience different levels of intensity.
To elaborate this distinction, consider the analogy of an electric bulb (Fig.
11.14). The illumination at a location near a 100-Watt bulb is higher than that
farther away from it. While the bulb releases 100 Watts of energy, the intensity
of light (or illumination, measured in lumens) at a location depends on the
wattage of the bulb and its distance from the bulb. Here, the size of the bulb
(100-Watt) is like the magnitude of an earthquake, and the illumination at a
location like the intensity of shaking at that location.

Fig. 11.14. Reducing illumination with distance from an electric bulb

▆ Magnitude and Intensity in Seismic Design

One often asks: Can my building withstand a magnitude 7.0 earthquake? But, the
M 7.0 earthquake causes different shaking intensities at different locations and
the damage induced in buildings at these locations is different. Thus, indeed it is
particular levels of intensity of shaking that buildings and structures are designed
to resist and not so much the magnitude. The peak ground acceleration (PGA),
i.e., maximum acceleration experienced by the ground during shaking, is one
way of quantifying the severity of ground shaking. Approximate empirical
correlations are available between the MM intensities and the PGA that may be
experienced (Table 11.3).
For instance, during the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, the area enclosed by
isoseismal VIII (Fig. 11.13) may have experienced a PGA of about 0.25–0.30 g.
However, now strong ground motion records from seismic instruments are relied
upon to quantify destructive ground shaking. These are critical for cost-effective
earthquake-resistant design.
Table 11.3. PGAs during shaking of different intensities

Source: B.A. Bolt, Earthquakes, W.H. Freeman & Co., New York, 1993
Based on the data from past earthquakes, scientists Gutenberg and Richter
in 1956 provided an approximate correlation between the Local Magnitude ML
of an earthquake with the intensity I0 sustained in the epicentral area as: ML˜2/3
I0 + 1. (For using this equation, the Roman numbers of intensity are replaced
with the corresponding Arabic numerals, e.g., intensity IX with 9.0). There are
several different relations proposed by other scientists.

▆ Resource Material
Richter, C.F. 1958. Elementary Seismology, W.H. Freeman & Company Inc, San Francisco, USA. (Indian
Reprint in 1969 by Eurasia Publishing House Private Limited, New Delhi).
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Basic Geography and Tectonic Features
India lies at the northwestern end of the Indo-Australian Plate, which
encompasses India, Australia, a major portion of the Indian Ocean and other
smaller countries. This plate collides against the huge Eurasian Plate (Fig. 11.3)
and goes under the Eurasian Plate, this process of one tectonic plate getting
under another is called subduction. A sea, Tethys, separated these plates before
they collide. Part of the lithosphere, the earth’s crust, is covered by oceans and
the rest by the continents. The former can undergo subduction at great depths
when it converges against another plate, but the latter is buoyant and so tends to
remain close to the surface. When continents converge, large amounts of
shortening and thickening takes place, like at the Himalayas and Tibet.

Fig. 11.15. Geographical layout and tectonic plate boundaries at India

Three chief tectonic sub-regions of India are the mighty Himalayas along
the north, the plains of the Ganges and other rivers and the peninsula. The
Himalayas consist primarily of sediments accumulated over long geological time
in the Tethys. The Indo-Gangetic basin with deep alluvium is a great depression
caused by the load of the Himalayas on the continent. The peninsular part of the
country consists of ancient rocks deformed in the past Himalayan-like collisions.
Erosion has exposed the roots of the old mountains and removed most of the
topography. The rocks are very hard, but are softened by weathering near the
surface. Before the Himalayan collision, several tens of millions of years ago,
lava flowed across the central part of peninsular India leaving layers of basalt
rock. Coastal areas like Kutch show marine deposits, testifying submergence
under the sea millions of years ago.

▆ Prominent Past Earthquakes in India

A number of significant earthquakes occurred in and around India over the past
century (Fig. 11.16). Some of these occurred in populated and urbanized areas
and hence caused great damage. Many went unnoticed, as they occurred deep
under the earth’s surface or in relatively uninhabited places. Some of the
damaging and recent earthquakes are listed in Table 11.1. Most earthquakes
occur along the Himalayan plate boundary (these are inter-plate earthquakes),
but a number of earthquakes have also occurred in the peninsular region (these
are intra-plate earthquakes).

Fig. 11.16. Some past earthquakes

Four Great earthquakes (M>8) occurred in a span of 53 years from 1897 to

1950, the January 2001 Bhuj earthquake (M7.7) is almost as large. Each of these
caused disasters, but also allowed us to learn about earthquakes and to advance
earthquake engineering. For instance, the 1819 Kutch earthquake produced an
unprecedented ~3 m high uplift of the ground over 100 km (called Allah Bund).
The 1897 Assam Earthquake caused severe damage up to 500 km radial
distances, the type of damage sustained, led to improvements in the intensity
scale from I-X to I-XII. Extensive liquefaction of the ground took place over a
length of 300 km (called the Slump Belt) during 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake in
which many buildings and structures went afloat.
The timing of the earthquake during the day and during the year critically
determines the number of casualties. Casualties are expected to be high for
earthquakes that strike during cold winter nights, when most of the population is
Table 11.1. Some Past Earthquakes in India

▆ Seismic Zones of India

The varying geology at different locations in the country implies that the
likelihood of damaging earthquakes taking place at different locations is
different. Thus, a seismic zone map is required so that buildings and other
structures located in different regions can be designed to withstand the different
levels of ground shaking. The current zone map subdivides India into five zones
– I, II, III, IV and V (Fig. 11.17). The maximum Modified Mercalli (MM)
intensity of seismic shaking expected in these zones are V or less, VI, VII, VIII,
and IX and higher, respectively. Parts of the Himalayan boundary in the north
and northeast and the Kutch area in the west are classified as zone V.
The seismic zone maps are revised from time to time as more understanding
is gained on the geology, the seismotectonics and the seismic activity in the
country. For instance, the Koyna earthquake of 1967 occurred in an area
classified in zone I as per the map of 1966. The 1970 version (same as Figure
11.3) upgraded the area around Koyna to zone IV. The Killari (Latur) earthquake
of 1993 occurred in zone I. The new zone map under print (Figure 11.18) places
this area in zone III. The new zone map will now have only four seismic zones –
II, III, IV and V. The areas falling in seismic zone I in the current map are
merged with those of seismic zone II. Also, the seismic zone map in the
peninsular region is being modified. Madras will come under seismic zone III as
against current zone II.
Fig. 11.17. Current Indian Seismic Zone Map (IS: 1893–1984)
Fig. 11.18. Revised Indian Seismic Zone Map (under print by BIS)

The national Seismic Zone Map presents a large-scale view of the seismic
zones in the country. Local variations in soil type and geology cannot be
represented at that scale. Therefore, for important projects such as a major dam
or a nuclear power plant, the seismic hazard is evaluated specifically for that
site. Also, for the purposes of urban planning, metropolitan areas are
microzoned. Seismic microzonation accounts for local variations in geology,
local soil profile, etc.

▆ Resource Material
BMTPC. 1997. Vulnerability Atlas of India, Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council,
Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, New Delhi.
Dasgupta, S. et al. 2000. Seismotectonic Atlas of Indian and its Environs, Geological Survey of India,
IS:1893. 1984. Indian Standard Criteria for Earthquake-resistant Design of Structures, Bureau of Indian
Standards, New Delhi
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Inertia Forces in Structures
Earthquake causes shaking of the ground. So a building resting on it will
experience motion at its base. From Newton’s First Law of Motion, even though
the base of the building moves with the ground, the roof has a tendency to stay
in its original position. But since the walls and columns are connected to it, they
drag the roof along with them. This is much like the situation that you are faced
with when the bus you are standing in suddenly starts your feet move with the
bus, but your upper body tends to stay back making you fall backwards. This
tendency to continue to remain in the previous position is known as inertia. In
the building, since the walls or columns are flexible, the motion of the roof is
different from that of the ground (Fig. 11.19).
Consider a building whose roof is supported on columns (Fig. 11.20).
Coming back to the analogy of yourself on the bus: when the bus suddenly
starts, you are thrown backwards as if someone has applied a force on the upper
body. Similarly, when the ground moves, even the building is thrown backwards,
and the roof experiences a force, called inertia. If the roof has a mass (M) and
experiences an acceleration (a) then from Newton’s Second Law of Motion, the
inertia force (FI) is mass (M) times acceleration (a) and its direction is opposite
to that of the acceleration. Clearly, more mass means higher inertia force.
Therefore, lighter buildings sustain the earthquake shaking better.

Fig. 11.19. Effect of inertia in a building when shaken at its base

Fig. 11.20. Inertia force and relative motion within a building

▆ Effect of Deformations in Structures

The inertia force experienced by the roof is transferred to the ground via the
columns, causing forces in columns. These forces generated in the columns can
also be understood in another way. During an earthquake the columns undergo
relative movements between their ends. In Fig. 11.20, this movement is shown
as quantity (u) between the roof and the ground. But, given a free option,
columns would like to come back to the straight vertical position, i.e., columns
resist deformations. In the straight vertical position, the columns carry no
horizontal earthquake force through them. But, when forced to bend, they
develop internal forces. The larger is the relative horizontal displacement (u)
between the top and bottom of the column, the larger this internal force in
columns. Also, the stiffer the columns are (i.e., bigger is the column size), larger
is this force. For this reason, these internal forces in the columns are called
stiffness forces. In fact, the stiffness force in a column is the column stiffness
times the relative displacement between its ends.

▆ Horizontal and Vertical Shaking

Earthquake causes shaking of the ground in all three directions, along the two
horizontal directions (say X and Y), and the vertical direction (say Z) (Fig.
11.21). Also, during the earthquake, the ground shakes randomly back and forth
(– and +) along each of these X, Y and Z directions. All structures are primarily
designed to carry the gravity loads, i.e., they are designed for a force equal to the
mass (M) (this includes mass due to own weight and imposed loads) times the
acceleration due to gravity (g) acting in the vertical downward direction (–Z).
The downward force (Mg) is called the gravity load. The vertical acceleration
during ground shaking either adds to or subtracts from the acceleration due to
gravity. Since factors of safety are used in the design of structures to resist the
gravity loads, most structures usually tend to be adequate against vertical

Fig. 11.21. Inertia force and relative motion within a building

However, horizontal shaking along X and Y directions (both + and –

directions of each) remains a concern. Structures designed for gravity loads, in
general, may not be able to safely sustain the effects of horizontal earthquake
shaking. Hence, it is necessary to ensure adequacy of the structures against
horizontal earthquake effects.

▆ Flow of Inertia Forces to Foundations

Under horizontal shaking of the ground, horizontal inertia forces are generated at
level of the mass of the structure (usually situated at the floor levels). These
lateral inertia forces are transferred by the floor slab to the walls or columns, to
the foundations, and finally to the soil system underneath (Fig. 11.22). So, each
of these structural elements (floor slabs, walls, columns and foundations) and the
connections between them must be designed to safely transfer these inertia
forces through them.

Fig. 11.22. Flow of seismic inertia forces through all structural components

Walls or columns are the most critical elements in transferring the inertia
forces. But, in traditional construction, floor slabs and beams receive more care
and attention during design and construction, than walls and columns. Walls are
relatively thin and often made of brittle material like masonry. They are poor in
carrying horizontal earthquake inertia forces along the direction of their
thickness. Failures of masonry walls have been observed in many earthquakes in
the past (e.g., Fig. 11.23 a). Similarly, poorly designed and constructed
reinforced concrete columns can be disastrous. The failure of the ground storey
columns resulted in numerous building collapses during the 2001 Bhuj (India)
earthquake (Fig 11.23 b).

(a) Partial collapse of stone masonry walls during 1991 Uttarkashi (India) earthquake

(b) Collapse of reinforced concrete columns (and building) during 2001 Bhuj (India) earthquake

Fig. 11.23. Importance of designing walls/columns for horizontal earthquake forces

▆ Resource Material
Chopra, A.K. 1980. Dynamics of Structures - A Primer, EERI Monograph, Earthquake Engineering
Research Institute, USA
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement


▆ Importance of Architectural Features
The behaviour of a building during earthquakes depends critically on its overall
shape, size and geometry, in addition to how the earthquake forces are carried to
the ground. Hence, at the planning stage itself, architects and structural engineers
must work together to ensure that the unfavourable features are avoided and a
good building configuration is chosen.
The importance of the configuration of a building was aptly summarized by
Late Henry Degenkolb, a noted Earthquake Engineer of USA, as:
‘If we have a poor configuration to start with, all the engineer can do is to
provide a band-aid – improve a basically poor solution as best as he can.
Conversely, if we start-off with a good configuration and reasonable framing
system, even a poor engineer cannot harm its ultimate performance too much’.

▆ Architectural Features
A desire to create an aesthetic and functionally efficient structure drives
architects to conceive wonderful and imaginative structures. Sometimes the
shape of the building catches the eye of the visitor, sometimes the structural
system appeals, and at other occasions both shape and structural system work
together to make the structure a marvel. However, each of these choices of
shapes and structure have a significant bearing on the performance of the
building during strong earthquakes. The wide range of structural damages
observed during past earthquakes across the world is very educative in
identifying structural configurations that are desirable versus those which must
be avoided.

Size of Buildings
In tall buildings with large height-to-base size ratio (Fig. 11.24 a), the horizontal
movement of the floors during ground shaking is large. In short but very long
buildings (Fig. 11.24 b), the damaging effects during earthquake shaking are
many. And, in buildings with a large plan area like warehouses (Fig. 11.24 c),
the horizontal seismic forces can be excessive to be carried by columns and

Fig. 11.24. Buildings with one of their overall sizes much larger or much smaller than the other two, do not
perform well during earthquakes

Horizontal Layout of Buildings

In general, buildings with a simple geometry in plan (Fig. 11.25 a) have
performed well during strong earthquakes. Buildings with re-entrant corners,
like those U, V, H and + shaped in plan (Fig. 11.25 b), have sustained significant
damage. Many times, the bad effects of these interior corners in the plan of
buildings are avoided by making the buildings in two parts. For example, an L-
shaped plan can be broken up into two rectangular plan shapes using a
separation joint at the junction (Fig. 11.25 c). Often, the plan is simple, but the
columns/walls are not equally distributed in the plan. Buildings with such
features tend to twist during earthquake shaking. A discussion in this aspect will
be presented in the upcoming IITK-BMTPC Earthquake – Tip 7 on How
Buildings Twist During Earthquakes?
Fig. 11.25. Simple plan shape buildings do well during earthquakes
Fig. 11.26. Sudden deviations in load transfer path along the height lead to poor performance of buildings

Vertical Layout of Buildings

The earthquake forces developed at different floor levels in a building need to be
brought down along the height to the ground by the shortest path, any deviation
or discontinuity in this load transfer path results in poor performance of the
building. Buildings with vertical setbacks (like the hotel buildings with a few
storeys wider than the rest) cause a sudden jump in earthquake forces at the level
of discontinuity (Fig. 11.26 a). Buildings that have fewer columns or walls in a
particular storey or with an unusually tall storey (Fig. 11.26 b), tend to damage
or collapse. Many buildings with an open ground storey intended for parking,
collapsed or were severely damaged in Gujarat during the 2001 Bhuj earthquake.
Buildings on slopy ground have unequal height columns along the slope,
which causes ill effects like twisting and damage in shorter columns (Fig. 11.26
c). Buildings with columns that hang or float on beams at an intermediate storey
and do not go all the way to the foundation have discontinuities in the load
transfer path (Fig. 11.26 d). Some buildings have reinforced concrete walls to
carry the earthquake loads to the foundation. Buildings in which these walls do
not go all the way to the ground but stop at an upper level, are liable to get
severely damaged during earthquakes (Fig. 11.26 e).

Adjacency of Buildings
When two buildings are too close to each other, they may pound on each other
during strong shaking. With an increase in the building height, this collision can
be a greater problem. When building heights do not match (Fig. 11.27), the roof
of the shorter building may pound at the mid-height of the column of the taller
one; this can be very dangerous.

Fig. 11.27. Pounding can occur between adjoining building due to horizontal vibrations of the two buildings

▆ Building Design and Code

Looking ahead, of course, one will continue to make buildings look interesting
rather than monotonous. However, this need not be done at the cost of poor
behaviour and earthquake safety of buildings. Architectural features that are
detrimental to earthquake response of buildings should be avoided. If not, they
must be minimized. When irregular features are included in buildings, a
considerably higher level of engineering effort is required in the structural design
and yet the building may not be as good as the one with simple architectural
Decisions made at the planning stage on building configuration are more
important or are known to have made a greater difference, than accurate
determination of code specified design forces.

▆ Resource Material
Arnold, C. and R. Reitherman. 1982. Building Configuration and Seismic Design, John Wiley, USA
Lagorio, H., J. 1990. Earthquakes – An Architect’s Guide to Non-Structural Seismic Hazard, John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., USA
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Why a Building Twists?
In your childhood, you must have sat on a rope swing, a wooden cradle tied with
coir ropes to the sturdy branch of an old tree. The more modern versions of these
swings can be seen today in the children’s parks in urban areas they have a
plastic cradle tied with steel chains to a steel framework. Consider a rope swing
that is tied identically with two equal ropes. It swings equally, when you sit in
the middle of the cradle. Buildings too are like these rope swings, just that they
are inverted swings (Fig. 11.28). The vertical walls and columns are like the
ropes and the floor is like the cradle. Buildings vibrate back and forth during
earthquakes. Buildings with more than one storey are like rope swings with more
than one cradle.
Fig. 11.28. Rope swings and buildings, both swing back-and-forth when shaken horizontally. the former are
hung from the top, while the latter are raised from the ground

Thus, if you see from the sky, a building with identical vertical members
that are uniformly placed in the two horizontal directions, when shaken at its
base in a certain direction, swings back and forth such that all points on the floor
move horizontally by the same amount in the direction in which it is shaken
(Fig. 11.29).
Fig. 11.29. Identical vertical members placed uniformly in the plan of a building cause all points on the
floor to move by the same amount

Again, let us go back to the rope swings on the tree, if you sit at one end of
the cradle, it twists (i.e., moves more on the side you are sitting). This also
happens sometimes when more of your friends bunch together and sit on one
side of the swing. Likewise, if the mass on the floor of a building is more on one
side (for instance, one side of a building may have a storage or a library), then
that side of the building moves more under ground movement (Fig. 11.30). This
building moves such that its floors displace horizontally as well as rotate.
Fig. 11.30. Even if vertical members are placed uniformly in the plan of a building, more mass on one side
causes the floors to twist

Once more, let us consider the rope swing on the tree. This time let the two
ropes with which the cradle is tied to the branch of the tree be different in length.
Such a swing also twists even if you sit in the middle (Fig. 11.31a). Similarly, in
buildings with unequal vertical members (i.e., columns and/or walls) also the
floors twist about a vertical axis (Fig. 11.31b) and displace horizontally.
Likewise, buildings, which have walls only on two sides (or one side) and thin
columns along the other, twist when shaken at the ground level (Fig. 11.31c).
Fig. 11.31. Buildings have unequal vertical members, they cause the building to twist about a vertical axis
Buildings that are irregular shapes in plan tend to twist under earthquake
shaking. For example, in a propped overhanging building (Fig. 11.32), the
overhanging portion swings on the relatively slender columns under it. The
floors twist and displace horizontally.

Fig. 11.32. One-side open ground storey building twists during earthquake shaking

▆ What Twist does to Building Members?

Twist in buildings, called torsion by engineers, makes different portions at the
same floor level to move horizontally by different amounts. This induces more
damage in the columns and walls on the side that moves more (Fig. 11.32).
Many buildings have been severely affected by this excessive torsional
behaviour during past earthquakes. It is best to minimize (if not completely
avoid) this twist by ensuring that buildings have a symmetry in plan (i.e.,
uniformly distributed mass and uniformly placed vertical members). If this twist
cannot be avoided, special calculations need to be done to account for this
additional shear forces in the design of buildings, the Indian seismic code (IS:
1893, 2002) has provisions for such calculations. But, for sure, buildings with a
twist will perform poorly during strong earthquake shaking.
Fig. 11.33. Vertical members of buildings that move more horizontally sustain more damage

▆ Resource Material
Arnold, C. and R. Reitherman. 1982. Building Configuration and Seismic Design, John Wiley, USA
Lagorio H. J. 1990. Earthquakes – An Architect’s Guide to Non-Structural
Seismic Hazard, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., USA
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ The Earthquake Problem
Severity of ground shaking at a given location during an earthquake can be
minor or moderate. Relatively speaking, minor shaking occurs frequently,
moderate shaking occasionally and strong shaking rarely. For instance, on an
average, annually about 800 earthquakes of magnitude 5.0–5.9 occur in the
world while the number is only about 18 for magnitude range 7.0–7.9 (see Table
1 of IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 03 at www.nicee.org). So, should we design
and construct a building to resist that rare earthquake shaking that may come
only once in 500 years or even once in 2,000 years at the chosen project site,
even though the life of the building itself may be only 50 or 100 years? Since it
costs money to provide additional earthquake safety in buildings, a conflict
arises: Should we do away with the design of buildings for earthquake effects?
Or should we design the buildings to be ‘earthquake proof’, wherein there is no
damage during the strong but rare earthquake shaking? Clearly, the former
approach can lead to a major disaster, and the second approach is too expensive.
Hence, the design philosophy should lie somewhere in-between these two

▆ Earthquake-resistant Buildings
The engineers do not attempt to make earthquake-proof buildings that will not
get damaged even during the rare but strong earthquake, such buildings will be
too robust and also too expensive. Instead, the engineering intention is to make
buildings earthquake-resistant, such buildings resist the effects of ground
shaking, although they may get damaged severely but would not collapse during
the strong earthquake. Thus, safety of the people and property is assured in
earthquake-resistant buildings and thereby a disaster is avoided. This is a major
objective of seismic design codes throughout the world.

▆ Earthquake Design Philosophy

The earthquake design philosophy may be summarized as follows (Fig. 11.34):
(a) Under minor but frequent shaking, the main members of the building that
carry vertical and horizontal forces should not be damaged, however,
building parts that do not carry a load may sustain reparable damage.
(b) Under moderate but occasional shaking, the main members may sustain
reparable damage, while the other parts of the building may be damaged
such that they may even have to be replaced after the earthquake.
(c) Under strong but rare shaking, the main members may sustain severe (even
irreparable) damage, but the building should not collapse.

Fig. 11.34. Performance objectives under different intensities of earthquake shaking – seeking low
repairable damage under minor shaking and collapse-prevention under strong shaking

Thus, after minor shaking, the building will be fully operational within a
short time and the repair costs will be small. And, after moderate shaking, the
building will be operational once the repair and strengthening of the damaged
main members is completed. But, after a strong earthquake, the building may
become dysfunctional for further use, but will stand so that people can be
evacuated and property recovered.
The consequences of damage have to be kept in view in the design
philosophy. For example, important buildings, like hospitals and fire stations,
play a critical role in post-earthquake activities and must remain functional
immediately after the earthquake. These structures must sustain very little
damage and should be designed for a higher level of earthquake protection.
Collapse of dams during earthquakes can cause flooding in the downstream
reaches, which itself can be a secondary disaster. Therefore, dams (and similarly,
nuclear power plants) should be designed for still higher level of earthquake

▆ Damage in Buildings: Unavoidable

Design of buildings to resist earthquakes involves controlling the damage to
acceptable levels at a reasonable cost. Contrary to the common thinking that any
crack in the building after an earthquake means the building is unsafe for
habitation, engineers designing earthquake-resistant buildings recognise that
some damage is unavoidable. Different types of damage (mainly visualised
through cracks, especially so in concrete and masonry buildings) occur in
buildings during earthquakes. Some of these cracks are acceptable (in terms of
both their size and location), while others are not. For instance, in a reinforced
concrete frame building with masonry filler walls between columns, the cracks
between vertical columns and masonry filler walls are acceptable, but diagonal
cracks running through the columns are not (Fig. 11.35). In general, qualified
technical professionals are knowledgeable of the causes and severity of damage
in earthquake-resistant buildings.
Fig. 11.35. Diagonal cracks in columns jeopardise vertical load carrying capacity of buildings—
unacceptable damage

Earthquake-resistant design is therefore concerned about ensuring that the

damages in buildings during earthquakes are of the acceptable variety and also
that they occur at the right places and in right amounts. This approach of
earthquake-resistant design is much like the use of electrical fuses in houses: to
protect the entire electrical wiring and appliances in the house, you sacrifice
some small parts of the electrical circuit, called fuses, these fuses are easily
replaced after the electrical over-current. Likewise, to save the building from
collapsing, you need to allow some predetermined parts to undergo the
acceptable type and level of damage.

▆ Acceptable Damage: Ductility

So, the task now is to identify acceptable forms of damage and desirable
building behaviour during earthquakes. To do this, let us first understand how
different materials behave. Consider a white chalk used to write on blackboards
and steel pins with solid heads used to hold sheets of paper together. A chalk
breaks easily. On the contrary, a steel pin allows it to be bent back-and-forth.
Engineers define the property that allows steel pins to bend back-and-forth by
large amounts, as ductility, chalk is a brittle material.
Earthquake-resistant buildings, particularly their main elements, need to be
built with ductility in them. Such buildings have the ability to sway back-and-
forth during an earthquake, and to withstand earthquake effects with some
damage, but without collapse (Fig. 11.36). Ductility is one of the most important
factors affecting the building performance. Thus, earthquake-resistant design
strives to predetermine the locations where damage takes place and then to
provide good detailing at these locations to ensure the ductile behaviour of the

▆ Resource Material
Naeim, F., Ed. 2001. The Seismic Design Handbook, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, USA
Ambrose, J. and D. Vergun. 1999. Design for Earthquakes, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
Fig. 11.36. Ductile and brittle structures – seismic design attempts to avoid structures of the latter kind

This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Construction Materials
In India, most non-urban buildings are made in masonry. In the plains, masonry
is generally made of burnt clay bricks and cement mortar. However, in hilly
areas, stone masonry with mud mortar is more prevalent, but, in recent times, it
is being replaced with cement mortar. Masonry can carry loads that cause
compression (i.e., pressing together), but can hardly take load that causes tension
(i.e., pulling apart) (Fig. 11.37).

Fig. 11.37. Masonry is strong in compression but weak in tension

Concrete is another material that has been popularly used in building

construction particularly over the last four decades. Cement concrete is made of
crushed stone pieces (called aggregate), sand, cement and water mixed in
appropriate proportions. Concrete is much stronger than masonry under
compressive loads, but again its behaviour in tension is poor. The properties of
concrete critically depend on the amount of water used in making it, too much
and too little water, both can cause havoc. In general, both masonry and concrete
are brittle and fail suddenly.
Steel is used in masonry and concrete buildings as reinforcement bars of
diameter ranging from 6 mm to 40 mm. Reinforcing steel can carry both tensile
and compressive loads. Moreover, steel is a ductile material.
This important property of ductility enables steel bars to undergo large
elongation before breaking.
Concrete is used in buildings along with steel reinforcement bars. This
composite material is called reinforced cement concrete or simply reinforced
concrete (RC). The amount and location of steel in a member should be such that
the failure of the member is by steel reaching its strength in tension before
concrete reaches its strength in compression. This type of failure is ductile
failure and hence is preferred over a failure where concrete fails first in
Therefore, contrary to common thinking, providing too much steel in RC
buildings can even be harmful.

▆ Capacity Design Concept

Let us take two bars of the same length and cross-sectional area, one made of a
ductile material and another of a brittle material. Now, pull these two bars until
they break. You will notice that the ductile bar elongates by a large amount
before it breaks, while the brittle bar breaks suddenly on reaching its maximum
strength at a relatively small elongation (Fig. 11.38). Amongst the materials used
in building construction, steel is ductile, while masonry and concrete are brittle.
Fig. 11.38. Tension test on materials – ductile versus brittle materials
Fig. 11.39. Ductile chain design

Now, let us make a chain with links made of brittle and ductile materials
(Fig. 11.39). Each of these links will fail just like the bars shown in Fig 11.38.
Now, hold the last link at either end of the chain and apply a force F. Since the
same force F is being transferred through all the links, the force in each link is
the same, i.e., F. As more and more force is applied, eventually the chain will
break when the weakest link in it breaks. If the ductile link is the weak one (i.e.,
its capacity to take load is less), then the chain will show a large final elongation.
However, if the brittle link is the weak one, then the chain will fail suddenly and
show a small final elongation. Therefore, if we want to have such a ductile
chain, we have to make the ductile link the weakest link.

▆ Earthquake-resistant Design of Buildings

Buildings should be designed like the ductile chain. For example, consider the
common urban residential apartment construction – the multi-storey building
made of reinforced concrete. It consists of horizontal and vertical members,
namely beams and columns. The seismic inertia forces generated at its floor
levels are transferred through the various beams and columns to the ground. The
correct building components need to be made ductile. The failure of a column
can affect the stability of the whole building, but the failure of a beam causes
localized effect. Therefore, it is better to make beams to be the ductile weak
links than columns. This method of designing RC buildings is called the strong-
column weak-beam design method (Fig. 11.40).

Fig. 11.40. Reinforced Concrete Building Design: the beams must be the weakest links and not the columns
– this can be achieved by appropriately sizing the members and providing correct amount of steel
reinforcement in them

By using the routine design codes (meant for design against non-earthquake
effects), designers may not be able to achieve a ductile structure. Special design
provisions are required to help designers improve the ductility of the structure.
Such provisions are usually put together in the form of a special seismic design
code, e. g., IS:13920-1993 for RC structures. These codes also ensure that
adequate ductility is provided in the members where damage is expected.

▆ Quality Control in Construction

The capacity design concept in earthquake-resistant design of buildings will fail
if the strengths of the brittle links fall below their minimum assured values. The
strength of brittle construction materials, like masonry and concrete, is highly
sensitive to the quality of construction materials, workmanship, supervision and
construction methods. Similarly, special care is needed in construction to ensure
that the elements meant to be ductile are indeed provided with features that give
adequate ductility. Thus, strict adherence to prescribed standards of construction
materials and construction processes is essential in assuring an earthquake-
resistant building. Regular testing of construction materials at qualified
laboratories (at the site or away), periodic training of workmen at professional
training houses and on-site evaluation of the technical work are elements of good
quality control.

▆ Resource Material
Paulay, T. and M.J.N. Priestley. 1992. Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete Buildings and Masonry, John
Wiley, USA
Mazzolani, F.M. and V. Piluso. 1996. Theory and Design of Seismic-Resistant Steel Frames, E&FN Spon,
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Oscillations of Flexible Buildings
When the ground shakes, the base of a building moves with the ground and the
building swings back-and-forth. If the buildings were rigid, every point in it
would move by the same amount as the ground. But, most buildings are flexible
and different parts move back-and-forth by different amounts.
Fig. 11.41. Free vibration response of a building: the back-and-forth motion is periodic

Take a fat coir rope and tie one end of it to the roof of a building and its
other end to a motorised vehicle (say a tractor). Next, start the tractor and pull
the building, it will move in the direction of the pull (Fig. 11.41 a). For the same
amount of pull force, the movement is larger for a more flexible building. Now,
cut the rope! The building will oscillate back-and-forth horizontally and after
some time come back to the original position (Fig. 11.41 b), these oscillations
are periodic. The time taken (in seconds) for each complete cycle of oscillation
(i.e., one complete back-and-forth motion) is the same and is called Fundamental
Natural Period T of the building. The value of T depends on the building
flexibility and mass, more the flexibility, the longer is the T, and more the mass,
the longer is the T. In general, taller buildings are more flexible and have larger
mass, and therefore have a longer T. On the contrary, low to medium-rise
buildings generally have a shorter T (less than 0.4 sec).
Adapted Iron: Newmark. (1970). Current trends in the Selaric Analysis and Design of High Rise Structures,
Chapter 16niWlegel, (1970), Earthquake Engineering, Prentice Hall, USA.

Fig. 11.42. Fundamental natural periods of structures differ over a large range. The natural period values are
only indicative; depending on actual properties of the structure, natural period may vary considerably

Fundamental natural period T is an inherent property of a building. Any

alterations made to the building will change its T. Fundamental natural periods T
of a normal single storey to 20-storey buildings are usually in the range 0.05–
2.00 sec. Some examples of natural periods of different structures are shown in
Fig. 11.42.

Importance of Flexibility
The ground shaking during an earthquake contains a mixture of many sinusoidal
waves of different frequencies, ranging from short to long periods (Fig. 11.43).
The time taken by the wave to complete one cycle of motion is called period of
the earthquake wave. In general, earthquake shaking of the ground has waves
whose periods vary in the range 0.03–33 sec. Even within this range, some
earthquake waves are stronger than the others. Intensity of earthquake waves at a
particular building location depends on a number of factors, including the
magnitude of the earthquake, the epicentral distance and the type of ground that
the earthquake waves travelled through before reaching the location of interest.
In a typical city, there are buildings of many different sizes and shapes. One
way of categorising them is by their fundamental natural period T. The ground
motion under these buildings varies across the city (Fig. 11.44 a). If the ground
is shaken back-and-forth by earthquake waves that have short periods, then short
period buildings will have a large response. Similarly, if the earthquake ground
motion has long period waves, then long period buildings will have a larger
response. Thus, depending on the value of T of the buildings and on the
characteristics of earthquake ground motion (i.e., the periods and amplitude of
the earthquake waves), some buildings will be shaken more than the others.
Fig. 11.43. Strong earthquake ground motion is transmitted by waves of different periods
Fig. 11.44. Different buildings respond differently to same ground vibration

During the 1967 Caracas earthquake in South America, the response of

buildings was found to depend on the thickness of soil under the buildings.
Figure 11.44 b shows that for buildings 3-5 storeys tall, the damage intensity was
higher in areas with underlying soil cover around 40–60 m thick, but was
minimal in areas with larger thickness of soil cover. On the other hand, the
damage intensity was just the reverse in the case of 10–14 storey buildings, the
damage intensity was more when the soil cover was in the range 150–300 m and
small for lower thickness of soil cover. Here, the soil layer under the building
plays the role of a filter, allowing some ground waves to pass through, filtering
the rest.
Flexible buildings undergo larger relative horizontal displacements, which
may result in damage to various nonstructural building components and the
contents. For example, some items in buildings, like glass windows, cannot take
large lateral movements, and are therefore damaged severely or crushed.
Unsecured shelves might topple, especially at upper stories of multi-storey
buildings. These damages may not affect the safety of buildings, but may cause
economic losses, injuries and panic among its residents.

▆ Related Tips
IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 2: How the Ground Shakes?
IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 5: What are the Seismic Effects on Structures?

▆ Resource Material
Wiegel, R. 1970. Earthquake Engineering, Prentice Hall Inc., USA.
Chopra, A.K. 1980. Dynamics of Structures – A Primer, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, USA
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Importance of Seismic Design Codes
Ground vibrations during earthquakes cause forces and deformations in
structures. Structures need to be designed to withstand such forces and
deformations. Seismic codes help to improve the behaviour of structures so that
they may withstand the earthquake effects without significant loss of life and
property. Countries around the world have procedures outlined in seismic codes
to help engineers in the planning, designing, detailing and construction of
structures. An earthquake-resistant building has four virtues in it, namely:
(a) Good Structural Configuration: Its size, shape and structural system carrying
loads are such that they ensure a direct and smooth flow of inertia forces to
the ground.
(b) Lateral Strength: The maximum lateral (horizontal) force that it can resist is
such that the damage induced in it does not result in collapse.
(c) Adequate Stiffness: Its lateral load resisting system is such that the
earthquake-induced deformations in it do not damage its contents under
low-to-moderate shaking.
(d) Good Ductility: Its capacity to undergo large deformations under severe
earthquake shaking even after yielding, is improved by favourable design
and detailing strategies.
Seismic codes cover all these aspects.

▆ Indian Seismic Codes

Seismic codes are unique to a particular region or country. They take into
account the local seismology, accepted level of seismic risk, building typologies,
and materials and methods used in construction. Further, they are indicative of
the level of progress a country has made in the field of earthquake engineering.
The first formal seismic code in India, namely IS 1893, was published in
1962. Today, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has the following seismic
IS 1893 (Part I), 2002, Indian Standard Criteria for Earthquake-resistant
Design of Structures (5th Revision)
IS 4326, 1993, Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake-resistant
Design and Construction of Buildings (2nd Revision)
IS 13827, 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-
resistance of Earthen Buildings
IS 13828, 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-
resistance of Low Strength Masonry Buildings
IS 13920, 1993, Indian Standard Code of Practice for Ductile Detailing of
Reinforced Concrete Structures subjected to seismic forces
IS 13935, 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Repair and Seismic
Strengthening of Buildings
The regulations in these standards do not ensure that structures suffer no
damage during earthquake of all magnitudes. But, to the extent possible, they
ensure that structures are able to respond to earthquake shakings of moderate
intensities without structural damage and to heavy intensities without total

▆ IS 1893
IS 1893 is the main code that provides the seismic zone map (Figure 11.45) and
specifies seismic design force.
This force depends on the mass and seismic coefficient of the structure, the
latter in turn depends on properties like the seismic zone in which a structure
lies, importance of the structure, its stiffness, the soil on which it rests and its
ductility. For example, a building in Bhuj will have 2.25 times the seismic design
force of an identical building in Bombay. Similarly, the seismic coefficient for a
single-storey building will be 2.5 times that of a 15-storey building.

▆ What are the Indian Seismic Codes?

The revised 2002 edition, Part 1 of IS 1893, contains provisions that are general
in nature and those applicable to buildings. The other four parts of IS 1893 will
cover: Liquid-Retaining Tanks, both elevated and ground supported (Part 2),
Bridges and Retaining Walls (Part 3), Industrial Structures, including Stack-Like
Structures (Part 4) and Dams and Embankments (Part 5). These four documents
are under preparation. In contrast, the 1984 edition of IS 1893 had provisions for
all the above structures in a single document.

▆ Provisions for Bridges

Seismic design of bridges in India is covered in three codes, namely IS 1893
(1984) from the BIS, IRC 6 (2000) from the Indian Roads Congress and Bridge
Rules (1964) from the Ministry of Railways. All highway bridges are required to
comply with IRC 6 and all railway bridges with Bridge Rules. These three codes
are conceptually the same, even though there are some differences in their
implementation. After the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, in 2002, the IRC released
interim provisions that make significant improvements in the IRC6 (2000)
seismic provisions.
Fig. 11.45. Seismic Zone Map of India showing four seismic zones – over 60 per cent of India’s land falls
under seismic zones III, IV and V

▆ IS 4326, 1993
This code covers general principles for earthquake-resistant buildings. Selection
of materials and special features of design and construction are dealt with for the
following types of buildings: timber constructions, masonry constructions using
rectangular masonry units and buildings with prefabricated reinforced concrete
roofing/flooring elements.

▆ IS 13827 and IS 13828, 1993

Guidelines in IS 13827 deal with empirical design and construction aspects for
improving earthquake-resistance of earthen houses and those in IS 13828 with
general principles of design and special construction features for improving
earthquake resistance of buildings of low-strength masonry. This masonry
includes burnt clay brick or stone masonry in weak mortars, like clay-mud.
These standards are applicable in seismic zones III, IV and V. Constructions
based on them are termed non-engineered, and are not totally free from collapse
under seismic shaking intensities VIII (MMI) and higher. Inclusion of features
mentioned in these guidelines may only enhance the seismic resistance and
reduce chances of collapse.

▆ IS 13920, 1993
In India, reinforced concrete structures are designed and detailed as per the
Indian Code IS 456 (2002). However, structures located in high seismic regions
require ductile design and detailing. Provisions for the ductile detailing of
monolithic reinforced concrete frame and shear wall structures are specified in
IS 13920 (1993). After the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, this code has been made
mandatory for all structures in zones III, IV and V. Similar provisions for seismic
design and ductile detailing of steel structures are not yet available in the Indian

▆ IS 13935, 1993
These guidelines cover general principles of seismic strengthening, selection of
materials and techniques for repair/seismic strengthening of masonry and
wooden buildings. The code provides a brief coverage for individual reinforced
concrete members in such buildings, but does not cover reinforced concrete
frame or shear wall buildings as a whole. Some guidelines are also laid down for
non-structural and architectural components of buildings.

▆ Conclusion
Countries with a history of earthquakes have well developed earthquake codes.
Thus, countries like Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America, have
detailed seismic code provisions. Development of building codes in India started
rather early. Today, India has a fairly good range of seismic codes covering a
variety of structures, ranging from mud or low-strength masonry houses to
modern buildings. However, the key to ensuring earthquake safety lies in having
a robust mechanism that enforces and implements these design code provisions
in actual constructions.

▆ Related Tips
Tip 4: Where are the seismic zones in India?
Tip 8: What is the seismic design philosophy of buildings?
Tip 9: How to make buildings ductile for good seismic performance?
Tip 10: How flexibility of buildings affects their earthquake response?

▆ Resource Material
BMTPC. 2000. Guidelines: Improving Earthquake Resistance of Housing, Building Materials and
Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi.
Bridge Rules. 1964. Rules Specifying the Loads for the Design of Super-Structure and Sub-Structure of
Bridges and for Assessment of the Strength of Existing Bridges, Government of India, Ministry of
Railways (Railway Board).
IRC 6. 2000. Standard Specifications and Code of Practice for Road Bridges - Section II: Loads and
Stresses, Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi.
IS 456. 2000. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Plain and Reinforced Concrete, Bureau of Indian
Standards, New Delhi.
SP 22. (S&T). 1982 Explanatory Handbook on Codes for Earthquakes Engineering - IS 1893:1975 and IS
4326:1976, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing its
contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Behaviour of Brick Masonry Walls
Masonry buildings are brittle structures and one of the most vulnerable of the
entire building stock under strong earthquake shaking. The large number of
human fatalities in such constructions during the past earthquakes in India
corroborates this. Thus, it is very important to improve the seismic behaviour of
masonry buildings. A number of earthquake-resistant features can be introduced
to achieve this objective.
Ground vibrations during earthquakes cause inertia forces at locations of
mass in the building. These forces travel through the roof and walls to the
foundation. The main emphasis is on ensuring that these forces reach the ground
without causing major damage or collapse. Of the three components of a
masonry building (roof, wall and foundation) (Fig. 11.46 a), the walls are most
vulnerable to damage caused by horizontal forces due to earthquake. A wall
topples down easily if pushed horizontally at the top, in a direction perpendicular
to its plane (termed weak direction), but offers much greater resistance if pushed
along its length (termed strong direction) (Fig. 11.46 b).
Fig. 11.46. Basic components of a masonry building–walls are sensitive to direction of earthquake forces

The ground shakes simultaneously in the vertical and two horizontal

directions during earthquakes (IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 5). However, the
horizontal vibrations are most damaging to normal masonry buildings.
Horizontal inertia force developed at the roof transfers to the walls acting either
in the weak or in the strong direction. If all the walls are not tied together like a
box, the walls loaded in their weak direction tend to topple (Fig. 11.47 a).
Fig. 11.47. Advantage sharing between walls–only possible if walls are well connected

To ensure good seismic performance, all walls must be joined properly to

the adjacent walls. In this way, walls loaded in their weak direction can take
advantage of the good lateral resistance offered by walls loaded in their strong
direction (Fig. 11.47 b). Further, walls also need to be tied to the roof and
foundation to preserve their overall integrity.

▆ How Do Brick Masonry Houses Behave During Earthquakes

Masonry walls are slender because of their small thickness compared to their
height and length. A simple way of making these walls behave well during
earthquake shaking is by making them act together as a box along with the roof
at the top and with the foundation at the bottom. A number of construction
aspects are required to ensure this box action. Firstly, connections between the
walls should be good. First, this can be achieved by (a) ensuring good
interlocking of the masonry courses at the junctions (b) employing horizontal
bands at various levels, particularly at the lintel level. Secondly, the sizes of door
and window openings need to be kept small. The smaller the openings, the larger
is the resistance offered by the wall. Thirdly, the tendency of a wall to topple
when pushed in the weak direction can be reduced by limiting its length-to-
thickness and height-to-thickness ratios (Fig. 11.48). Design codes specify limits
for these ratios. A wall that is too tall or too long in comparison to its thickness,
is particularly vulnerable to shaking in its weak direction (Fig. 11.48).
Fig. 11.48. Slender walls are vulnerable – height and length to be kept within limits. Note: In this figure, the
effect of roof on walls is not shown

▆ Choice and Quality of Building Materials

Earthquake performance of a masonry wall is very sensitive to the properties of
its constituents, namely masonry units and mortar. The properties of these
materials vary across India due to variation in raw materials and construction
methods. A variety of masonry units are used in the country, e. g., clay bricks
(burnt and unburnt), concrete blocks (solid and hollow), stone blocks. Burnt clay
bricks are most commonly used. These bricks are inherently porous, and so they
absorb water. Excessive porosity is detrimental to good masonry behaviour
because the bricks suck away water from the adjoining mortar, which results in a
poor bond between brick and mortar, and poses difficulty in positioning masonry
units. For this reason, bricks with low porosity are to be used and they must be
soaked in water before use to minimise the amount of water drawn away from
the mortar.
Various mortars are used, e. g., mud, cement-sand or cement-sand-lime. Of
these, mud mortar is the weakest, it crushes easily when dry, flows outward and
has a very low earthquake resistance. Cement-sand mortar with lime is the most
suitable. This mortar mix provides excellent workability for laying bricks,
stretches without crumbling at low earthquake shaking and bonds well with
bricks. The earthquake response of masonry walls depends on the relative
strengths of brick and mortar. Bricks must be stronger than mortar. Excessive
thickness of mortar is not desirable. A 10 mm thick mortar layer is generally
satisfactory from practical and aesthetic considerations. Indian standards
prescribe the preferred types and grades of bricks and mortars to be used in
buildings in each seismic zone.

▆ Related Tip
Tip 5: What are the seismic effects on structures?

▆ Resource Material
IS 1905. 1987. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Structural Use of Unreinforced Masonry, Bureau of
Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 4326. 1993. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake-resistant Design and Construction of
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 13828. 1993. Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-resistance of Low-strength Masonry
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
Paulay T. and M.J.N. Priestley. 1992. Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and Masonry Buildings, John
Wiley & Sons, New York
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.
▆ Box Action in Masonry Buildings
Brick masonry buildings have a large mass and hence attract large horizontal
forces during earthquake shaking. They develop numerous cracks under both
compressive and tensile forces caused by earthquake shaking. The focus of
earthquake-resistant masonry building construction is to ensure that these effects
are sustained without major damage or collapse. Appropriate choice of structural
configuration can help achieve this.
The structural configuration of masonry buildings includes aspects like (a)
overall shape and size of the building (b) distribution of mass and (horizontal)
lateral load resisting elements across the building. Large, tall, long and
unsymmetric buildings perform poorly during earthquakes (IITK-BMTPC
Earthquake Tip 6). A strategy used in making them earthquake-resistant is
developing good box action between all the elements of the building, i.e.,
between roof, walls and foundation (Fig. 11.49). Loosely connected roof or
unduly slender walls are threats to good seismic behaviour. For example, a
horizontal band introduced at the lintel level ties the walls together and helps to
make them behave as a single unit.
Fig. 11.49. Essential requirements to ensure box action in a masonry building

▆ Influence of Openings
Openings are functional necessities in buildings. However, location and size of
openings in walls assume a significance in deciding the performance of masonry
buildings in earthquakes. To understand this, consider a four-wall system of a
single storey masonry building (Fig. 11.50). During earthquake shaking, inertia
forces act in the strong direction of some walls and in the weak direction of
others (See IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 12). Walls shaken in the weak
direction seek support from the other walls, i.e., walls B1 and B2 seek support
from walls A1 and A2 for shaking in the direction shown in Fig. 11.50. To be
more specific, wall B1 pulls walls A1 and A2, while wall B2 pushes against
them. At the next instance, the direction of shaking could change to the
horizontal direction perpendicular to that shown in Fig. 11.50. Then, walls A and
B change their roles, walls B1 and B2 become the strong ones and A1 and A2
Fig. 11.50. Regions of force transfer from weak walls to strong walls in a masonry building – wall B1 pulls
walls A1 and A2, while wall B2 pushes walls A1 and A2

Thus, walls transfer loads to each other at their junctions (and through the
lintel bands and roof). Hence, the masonry courses from the walls meeting at
corners must have a good interlocking. For this reason, openings near the wall
corners are detrimental to a good seismic performance. Openings too close to the
wall corners hamper the flow of forces from one wall to another. Further, large
openings weaken walls from carrying the inertia forces in their own plane. Thus,
it is best to keep all openings as small as possible and as far away from the
corners as possible.

▆ Earthquake-resistant Features
Indian Standards suggest a number of earthquake-resistant measures to develop
good box-type action in masonry buildings and improve their seismic
performance. For instance, it is suggested that a building having horizontal
projections when seen from the top, e. g., like a building with plan shapes L, T, E
and Y, be separated into (almost) simple rectangular blocks in plan, each of
which has a simple and good earthquake behaviour (IITK-BMTPC Earthquake
Tip 6). During earthquakes, separated blocks can oscillate independently and
even hammer each other if they are too close. Thus, adequate gap is necessary
between these different blocks of the building. The Indian Standards suggest
minimum seismic separations between blocks of buildings. However, it may not
be necessary to provide such separations between blocks, if horizontal
projections in buildings are small, say up to ~15–20 per cent of the length of
building in that direction.
Inclined staircase slabs in masonry buildings offer another concern. An
integrally connected staircase slab acts like a cross-brace between floors and
transfers large horizontal forces at the roof and lower levels (Fig. 11.51 a). These
are areas of potential damage in masonry buildings, if not accounted for in
staircase design and construction. To overcome this, sometimes, staircases are
completely separated (Fig. 11.51 b) and built on a separate reinforced concrete
structure. Adequate gap is provided between the staircase tower and the masonry
building to ensure that they do not pound each other during strong earthquake
Fig. 11.51. Earthquake-resistant detailing of staircase in masonry building – must be carefully designed and

▆ Resource Material
IS 1905. 1987. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Structural Use of Unreinforced Masonry, Bureau of
Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 42326. 1993. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake-resistant Design and Construction of
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 13828. 1993. Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-resistance of Low-strength Masonry
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
Tomazevic, M. 1999. Earthquake-resistant Design of Masonry Buildings, Imperial College Press, London,

▆ Related Earthquake Tips

Tip 5: What are the seismic effects on structures?
Tip 6: How do architectural features affect buildings during earthquakes?
Tip12: How do brick masonry houses behave during earthquakes?


▆ Role of Horizontal Bands
Horizontal bands are the most important earthquake-resistant features in
masonry buildings. The bands are provided to hold a masonry building as a
single unit by tying all the walls together and are similar to a closed belt
provided around cardboard boxes. There are four types of bands in a typical
masonry building, namely gable band, roof band, lintel band and plinth band
(Fig. 11.52), named after their location in the building. The lintel band is the
most important of all and needs to be provided in almost all buildings. The gable
band is employed only in buildings with pitched or sloped roofs. In buildings
with flat reinforced concrete or reinforced brick roofs, the roof band is not
required because the roof slab also plays the role of a band. However, in
buildings with flat timber or CGI sheet roof, roof band needs to be provided. In
buildings with pitched or sloped roof, the roof band is very important. Plinth
bands are primarily used when there is concern about the uneven settlement of
foundation soil.
The lintel band ties the walls together and creates a support for walls loaded
along weak direction from walls loaded in strong direction. This band also
reduces the unsupported height of the walls and thereby improves their stability
in the weak direction. During the 1993 Latur earthquake (Central India), the
intensity of shaking in Killari village was IX on the MSK scale. Most masonry
houses sustained partial or complete collapse (Fig. 11.53 a). On the other hand,
there was one masonry building in the village, which had a lintel band and it
sustained the shaking very well with hardly any damage (Fig. 11.53 b).
Fig. 11.52. Horizontal Bands in masonry building – improve earthquake-resistance
Fig. 11.53. The 1993 Latur Earthquake (Central India – one masonry house in Killari Village had horizontal
lintel band and sustained the shaking without damage)

▆ Design of Lintel Bands

During earthquake shaking, the lintel band undergoes bending and pulling
actions (Fig. 11.54). To resist these actions, the construction of a lintel band
requires special attention. Bands can be made of wood (including bamboo splits)
or of reinforced concrete (RC) (Fig. 11.55), the RC bands are the best. The
straight lengths of the band must be properly connected at the wall corners. This
will allow the band to support walls loaded in their weak direction by walls
loaded in their strong direction. Small lengths of wood spacers (in wooden
bands) or steel links (in RC bands) are used to make the straight lengths of wood
runners or steel bars act together. In wooden bands, proper nailing of straight
lengths with spacers is important. Likewise, in RC bands, adequate anchoring of
steel links with steel bars is necessary.

Fig. 11.54. Bending and pulling in lintel bands – Bands must be capable of resisting these
▆ Indian Standards
The Indian Standards IS:4326 1993 and IS:13828 (1993) provide sizes and
details of the bands. When wooden bands are used, the cross-section of runners
is to be at least 75 mm × 38 mm and of spacers at least 50 mm × 30 mm. When
RC bands are used, the minimum thickness is 75 mm and at least two bars of 8
mm diameter are required, tied across with steel links of at least 6 mm diameter
at a spacing of 150 mm centres.

Fig. 11.55. Horizontal bands in masonry buildings – RC bands are the best

▆ Related Earthquake Tips

Tip 5: What are the seismic effects on structures?
Tip12: How do brick masonry houses behave during earthquakes?
Tip13: Why should masonry buildings have a simple structural configuration?

▆ Resource Material
IAEE. 1986. Guidelines for Earthquake-resistant Non-Engineered Construction, International Association
for Earthquake Engineering, Tokyo, available on www.nicee.org
IS 4326. 1993. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake-resistant Design and Construction of
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 13828. 1993. Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-resistance of Low-strength Masonry
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT, Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Response of Masonry Walls
Horizontal bands are provided in masonry buildings to improve their earthquake
performance. These bands include plinth band, lintel band and roof band. Even if
horizontal bands are provided, masonry buildings are weakened by the openings
in their walls (Fig. 11.56). During earthquake shaking, the masonry walls get
grouped into three subunits, namely spandrel masonry, wall pier masonry and
sill masonry.
Consider a hipped roof building with two window openings and one door
opening in a wall (Fig. 11.57 a). It has lintel and plinth bands. Since the roof is a
hipped one, a roof band is also provided. When the ground shakes, the inertia
force causes the small-sized masonry wall piers to disconnect from the masonry
above and below. These masonry subunits rock back and forth, developing
contact only at the opposite diagonals (Fig. 11.57 b). The rocking of a masonry
pier can crush the masonry at the corners. Rocking is possible when masonry
piers are slender and when weight of the structure above is small. Otherwise, the
piers are more likely to develop diagonal (X-type) shear cracking (Fig. 11.57 c),
this is the most common failure type in masonry buildings.
Fig. 11.56. Subunits in masonry building – walls behave as discrete units during earthquakes
Fig. 11.57. Earthquake response of a pipped roof masonry building – no vertical reinforcement is provided
in wall

Fig. 11.58. Horizontal sliding at sill level in a masonry building – no vertical reinforcement

In un-reinforced masonry buildings (Fig. 11.58), the cross-section area of

the masonry wall reduces at the opening. During strong earthquake shaking, the
building may slide just under the roof, below the lintel band or at the sill level.
Sometimes, the building may also slide at the plinth level. The exact location of
sliding depends on numerous factors including building weight, the earthquake-
induced inertia force, the area of openings and type of doorframes used.
Fig. 11.59. Vertical reinforcement in masonry walls – wall behaviour is modified

▆ How Vertical Reinforcement Helps?

Embedding vertical reinforcement bars in the edges of the wall piers, anchoring
them in the foundation at the bottom and in the roof band at the top (Fig. 11.59),
forces the slender masonry piers to undergo bending instead of rocking. In wider
wall piers, the vertical bars enhance their capability to resist horizontal
earthquake forces and delay the X-cracking. Adequate cross-sectional area of
these vertical bars prevents the bar from yielding in tension. Further, the vertical
bars also help protect the wall from sliding as well as from collapsing in the
weak direction.

▆ Protection of Openings in Walls

Sliding failure mentioned above is rare, even in unconfined masonry buildings.
However, the most common damage observed after an earthquake is diagonal X-
cracking of wall piers, and also inclined cracks at the corners of door and
window openings. When a wall with an opening deforms during earthquake
shaking, the shape of the opening distorts and becomes more like a rhombus —
two opposite corners move away and the other two come closer. Under this type
of deformation, the corners that come closer develop cracks (Fig. 11.60 a). The
cracks are bigger when the opening sizes are larger. Steel bars provided in the
wall masonry all around the openings restrict these cracks at the corners (Fig.
11.60 b). In summary, lintel and sill bands above and below openings and
vertical reinforcement adjacent to vertical edges, provide protection against this
type of damage.

(a) Cracking in building with no corner reinforcement

(b) No cracks in building with vertical reinforcement

Fig. 11.60. Cracks at corners of openings in a masonry building – reinforcement around them helps
▆ Related-Earthquake Tips
Tip 5: What are the seismic effects on structures?
Tip12: How do brick masonry houses behave during earthquakes?
Tip13: Why should masonry buildings have a simple structural configuration?
Tip14: Why are horizontal bands are required in masonry buildings?

▆ Resource Material
Amrose, J. 1991. Simplified Design of Masonry Structures, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA
BMTPC. 2000. Guidelines: Improving Earthquake Resistance of Housing, Building Materials and
Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi
IS 4326. 1993. Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake-resistant Design and Construction of
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
IS 13828. 1993. Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving Earthquake-resistance of Low-strength Masonry
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi
Authored by: C.V.R. Murty, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India
Sponsored by: Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi, India
This release is a property of IIT, Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


▆ Behaviour During Past Earthquakes
Stone has been used in building construction in India since ancient times since it
is durable and locally available. There are huge numbers of stone buildings in
the country, ranging from rural houses to royal palaces and temples. In a typical
rural stone house, there are thick stone masonry walls (thickness ranges from
600 mm to 1200 mm) built using rounded stones from riverbeds bound with mud
mortar. These walls are constructed with stones placed in a random manner and
hence do not have the usual layers (or courses) seen in brick walls. These
uncoursed walls have two exterior vertical layers of large stones (called wythes),
filled in-between with loose stone rubble and mud mortar. A typical uncoursed
random (UCR) stone masonry wall is illustrated in Figure 11.61. In many cases,
these walls support heavy roofs (for example, timber roof with thick mud
Fig. 11.61. Schematic of the wall section of a traditional stone house – thick walls without stones that go
across split into 2 vertical layers

Laypersons may consider such stone masonry buildings robust due to the
large wall thickness and robust appearance of stone construction. But, these
buildings are one of the most deficient building the systems from point of view
of earthquake resistance. The main deficiencies include excessive wall thickness,
absence of any connection between the two wythes of the wall and use of round
stones (instead of shaped ones). Such dwellings have shown a very poor
performance during past earthquakes in India and other countries (e.g., Greece,
Iran, Turkey, former Yugoslavia). In the 1993 Killari (Maharashtra) earthquake
alone, over 8,000 people died, most of them buried under the rubble of
traditional stone masonry dwellings. Likewise, a majority of the over 13,800
deaths during the 2001 Bhuj (Gujarat) earthquake is attributed to the collapse of
this type of construction.
The main patterns of earthquake damage include: (1) bulging/separation of
walls in the horizontal direction into two distinct wythes (Fig. 11.62 a) (2)
separation of walls at corners and T-junctions (Fig. 11.62 b) (3) separation of
poorly constructed roof from walls and eventual collapse of roof (4)
disintegration of walls and eventual collapse of the whole dwelling.
Fig. 11.62. Major concerns in a traditional stone house – deficiencies in walls, roof and in their connections
have been the prime causes for failure

▆ Earthquake-resistant Features
Low strength stone masonry buildings are weak against earthquakes and should
be avoided in high seismic zones. The Indian Standard IS:13828 (1993) states
that inclusion of special earthquake-resistant design and construction features
may raise the earthquake resistance of these buildings and reduce the loss of life.
However, in spite of the seismic features, these buildings may not become totally
free from heavy damage and even collapse in case of a major earthquake. The
contribution of each of these features is difficult to quantify, but qualitatively
these features have been observed to improve the performance of stone masonry
dwellings during the past earthquakes. These features include:
(a) Ensure proper wall construction: The wall thickness should not exceed 450
mm. Round stone boulders should not be used in construction. Instead, the
stones should be shaped using chisels and hammers. Use of mud mortar
should be avoided in higher seismic zones. Instead, cement-sand mortar
should be 1:6 (or richer) and lime-sand mortar 1:3 (or richer) should be

Fig. 11.63. Use of ‘through stones’ or ‘bond stones’ in stone masonry walls – vital in preventing the wall
from separating into wythes

(b) Ensure proper bond in masonry courses: The masonry walls should be built
in construction lifts not exceeding 600 mm. Through-stones (each
extending over full thickness of wall) or a pair of overlapping bond-stones
(each extending over at least three-fourth the thickness of the wall) must be
used at every 600 mm along the height and at a maximum spacing of 1.2 m
along the length (Fig. 11.63).
(c) Provide horizontal reinforcing elements: The stone masonry dwellings must
have horizontal bands (See IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 14 for plinth,
lintel, roof and gable bands). These bands can be constructed out of wood
or reinforced concrete and the choice should be chosen based on economy.
It is important to provide at least one band (either lintel or roof) in stone
masonry construction (Fig. 11.64).
Fig. 11.64. Horizontal lintel band is essential in random rubble stone masonry walls – provides integrity to
the dwelling and holds the walls together to resist horizontal earthquake effects

(d) Control on overall dimensions and heights: The unsupported length of walls
between cross-walls should be limited to 5 m, for longer walls, cross
supports raised from the ground level called buttresses should be provided
at a spacing of not more than 4 m. The height of each storey should not
exceed 3 m. In general, stone masonry buildings should not be taller than 2
storeys when built in cement mortar, and 1 storey when built in lime or
mud mortar. The thickness of the wall should be at least one-sixth its
Although, this type of stone masonry construction practice is deficient with
regards to earthquake resistance, its extensive use is likely to continue due to
tradition and low cost. However, to protect human lives and property from future
earthquakes, it is necessary to follow proper stone masonry construction as
described above (especially features (a), (b) in seismic zones III and higher).
Also, the use of seismic bands is highly recommended (as described in feature
(c) above and in IITK-BMTPC Earthquake Tip 14).

▆ Related Earthquake Tip

Tip14: Why are horizontal bands required in masonry buildings?
▆ Resource Material
Brzev, S., M. Greene and R. Sinha. 2001. ‘Rubble stone masonry walls with timber walls and timber roof,’
World Housing Encyclopedia (www.world-housing.net), India/Report 18, published by EERI and
IAEE. 1986. Guidelines for Earthquake-resistant Non-Engineered Construction, The ACC Limited, Thane,
2001 (See www.nicee.org).
IS 13828. 1993. Indian Standard Guidelines — Improving Earthquake Resistance of Low-Strength Masonry
Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.
Publications of Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, New Delhi (www.bmtpc.org):
(a) Retrofitting of Stone Houses in Marathwada Area of Maharashtra
(b) Guidelines for Improving Earthquake Resistance of Housing
(c) Manual for Repair and Reconstruction of Houses Damaged in Earthquake in October 1991 in the
Garhwal Region of UP
This release is a property of IIT, Kanpur and BMTPC, New Delhi. It may be reproduced without changing
its contents and with due acknowledgement.


Descriptive Questions
1. Describe in detail the interior of the earth. Add a note on the importance of each layer of the
2. What is meant by plate tectonics? List the major plate tectonic surfaces of the earth. Add a note
on the importance of plate tectonics.
3. What is earthquake? Describe the types of earthquakes.
4. Describe with the help of neat diagram the concept of Elastic Rebound Theory. Discuss its
5. What is the seismology? How is this branch of science useful for earth sciences and
6. How are seismic waves generated in the ground? Discuss the characteristic features of seismic
7. How can earthquakes be recorded? Discuss the instrument components which measure the
seismic waves.
8. What are the advantages of digital recording seismograph?
9. List the major seismic observatories in our country. Add a note on the importance of the
seismograph observation data in the field of earth sciences and engineering.
10. Discuss the characteristics of strong motions during earthquakes. How do they influence the
engineering structures?
11. Define the following terms: epicenter, focal depth, epicentral distance, foreshock and
aftershock. How are they related in seismology?
12. What is meant by earthquake magnitude? How is it measured? Discuss the importance of
earthquake magnitude measurements in earth sciences and engineering.
13. Describe in detail the Richter magnitude scale. What is the significance of Richter magnitude
scale? Add a note on the importance and utilization of this scale in engineering and earth
14. What is meant by intensity of the earthquake? How does it differ from magnitude scale? Add a
note on the intensity scale in civil engineering.
15. Describe in detail the Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI). List the intensity scale which is
destructive for buildings and civil engineering structures.
16. Draw a distinction between the magnitude and intensity. What precautions should be taken by
the civil engineers in highly seismic zones?
17. What magnitude of earthquake can be destructive to the structures? Is it possible for any
building to withstand a magnitude of 7? While designing structures that can withstand a
magnitude of 7, what parameters should the civil engineers follow?
18. Describe in detail the basic tectonic features and geography of Indian subcontinent.
19. List few significant earthquakes of India in the past. Add a note on Bhuj earthquake.
20. Discuss the significance and importance of revised seismic zone map of India.
21. What are the uses of national seismic zone map of India? How does it differ from the seismic
zone map?
22. Discuss the importance of microseismic zonation. How does it differ from the seismic zone map
of India?
23. List the significance of inertia forces on structures.
24. Discuss the effects of deformation in structures. Add a note on horizontal and vertical shaking
of grounds.
25. Discuss the importance of flow of inertia forces to foundations. How do walls or columns in
building structure play role in transferring the inertial forces?
26. Why the poorly designed and reinforced concrete structures cannot withstand earthquake
27. What are architectural features? What role do they play during the earthquakes?
28. How will the size of the building be affected during ground shaking? Discuss the tall, too long
and too large plan buildings and their sustainability during ground shaking movement.
29. Discuss the horizontal layout of buildings and their impact and sustainability during
30. How will the vertical layout buildings be influenced with earth tremors?
31. How buildings with vertical setbacks cause sudden jump in earthquake forces?
32. How architectural features affect buildings during earthquakes?
33. List the significance of building design and codes.
34. Why a building twists during earthquakes? Explain the reasons for more twist in multiple storey
building than single storey building.
35. What are causes for building twists during earthquakes? What is meant by torsion? How
buildings have been severely affected with excessive torsional behaviour during and post
36. Discuss the significance of earthquake design philosophy for buildings.
37. What is meant by earthquake resistant building?
38. List the earthquake design philosophy. How should buildings be designed to suit the earth
39. What is meant by ductility? How should buildings be designed keeping in mind the
40. What is meant by seismic performance? How to ductile designs of buildings show good seismic
41. What is reinforced concrete? How do ductile designs fail?
42. Explain the capacity design concept in buildings.
43. What are the reasons for failure of buildings during strong earth tremors? How should buildings
be designed to withstand seismic tremors?
44. What are the suggestive design methods in designing horizontal and vertical members of
45. What is the significance of quality control construction? List the prescribed standards of
construction materials.
46. Discuss the importance of regular quality testing of building materials.
47. Enumerate the importance of periodic training of workmen at professional training courses.
48. Discuss in detail how flexibility of buildings affects their earthquake responses.
49. Discuss the importance of flexibility during earthquakes.
50. How can flexible buildings undergo horizontal displacement? Discuss the impact of flexibility
for civil engineering structures.
51. Enumerate the importance of Indian Seismic Codes and their utilization in infrastructure
52. How many virtues the earthquake resistant buildings have? Specify them.
53. What is the importance of Indian Seismic Codes? Who designed them? Where are they
available for utilizers?
54. When was the first seismic code in India published? Discuss its importance.
55. Write notes on IS:1893, IS:4326-1993, IS:13827-1993 and IS:13828-1993, IS:13920-1993 and
56. Describe in detail with illustrative explanation the behaviour of brick masonry houses during
57. What are the suggestive methods/measures for improvement of masonry walls during earth
58. Suggest the criteria for selection of quality building materials.
59. What are the suggestions incorporated by the BIS standards for the selection of building
materials used in each seismic zone in the country?
60. Discuss the principles which suggest that the masonry structures should possess simple
structural configuration.
61. What is the structural configuration of masonry buildings? How will they be influenced during
62. Why horizontal bands are required in masonry buildings?
63. Specify the significance of Indian Standards IS:43226-1993 and IS:13828-1993
64. How do the vertical reinforcements in masonry buildings improve earthquake performance?
65. Why is vertical reinforcement required in masonry buildings?
66. Suggest methodology for earthquake protection of opening walls in masonry buildings.
67. How do stone masonry buildings behave during earthquakes?
68. How can you make stone masonry buildings earthquake-resistant?

Supplementary Questions
69. Name the Professor who brought out IITK-BMTPC earthquake tips.
70. Expand BMTPC-IITK.
71. Name the point on fault where the slip starts.
72. What is the distance from the epicentre to any point of interest called?
73. Name the Professor of seismology who designated the earthquake magnitude.
74. Smallest earthquake of magnitude 2 can release an energy equivalent of what?
75. Is Richter’s Scale of magnitude logarithmic or not?
76. Where is USGS–Earthquake information located?
77. List few significant earthquakes of 2009.
78. What was the magnitude of earthquakes in Latur, Osmanabad and Uttarakashi?
79. When was the Bhuj earthquake struck? What was its magnitude?
80. Which earthquake resulted tsunami waves in Indian Ocean and impacted Indian coastal regions?
When was it struck? What was the magnitude of earthquake?
81. What are isoseismal lines or contours? List their significance.
82. Expand the MSK scale. List its importance in earth sciences and engineering.
83. What is the basic difference between magnitude and intensity?
84. Can normal building structure withstand earthquake magnitude of seven? Why?
85. What is meant by PGA?
86. Why was Tethys Sea significant?
87. How can we confirm Himalayas were resulted from orogeny?
88. List the past earthquakes in India.
89. How many earthquake zones of India are listed?
90. What is signified by zone-I, II, III, IV and V?
91. Which earthquake zone is New Delhi located on?
92. Which earthquake zone is Mangalore located on?
93. Which earthquake zone is Hyderabad located on?
94. Which earthquake zone Bhuj in Gujarat is located on?
95. Expand the abbreviation BIS-IS.
96. What is the significance of IS:1893-1984?
97. Define Newton’s first law of motion. How does it illustrate the ground motion during
98. What is inertia? How does it relate to Newton’s second law of motion?
99. What is meant by deformation? How will it impact the civil engineering structures?
100. What are stiffness forces?
101. Why civil engineering structures designed for gravity load may not sustain during major earth
102. Why walls and columns are most critical elements in transferring the inertia forces?
103. List the architectural features in building.
104. What are favourable and unfavourable features in buildings?
105. Late Henry Degenkolb, an earthquake engineer of USA quoted the importance of what?
106. Why a simple geometry in buildings perform well during strong earthquakes?
107. Why in general multistorey hotel/commercial/residential buildings cause sudden jump in
earthquake forces?
108. Why buildings on sloppy ground with unequal height columns along the slope suffer twists and
109. What would happen to two buildings of different height standing too close to each other during
strong earth tremors?
110. What are building design and codes?
111. Why building structures twist?
112. What is torsion?
113. What is the significance of Indian Seismic Code IS:1893-2002?
114. How many earthquakes of a magnitude of 5–5.9 occur across the world on an average annually?
115. How many earthquakes of a magnitude of 7.0–7.9 occur across the world on an average
116. What is meant by earthquake-resistant building?
117. What is the significance of earthquake design philosophy?
118. Why should dams, nuclear power stations be designed for higher level of earthquakes as
compared to other buildings?
119. What is reinforced concrete?
120. What is ductility?
121. What are masonry buildings?
122. How masonry buildings cause compression and tension during the earthquakes?
123. What are aggregates? What is reinforced concrete?
124. What is ductile failure?
125. Steel is _______________ and masonry and concrete are _______________.
126. Failure of column affects _______________ whole building.
127. Failure of beam affects _______________.
128. What is the significance of IS:13920-1993 for RC structures?
129. Define fundamental natural period?
130. What is the period of an earthquake wave?
131. Why flexible buildings undergo larger relative horizontal displacement during major
132. Why glass windows in buildings cannot bear large lateral movements during earth tremors?
133. How earthquake-resistant building should be planned? What are virtues? Name them.
134. First formal seismic code in India was published in the year _______________.
135. What is the significance of IS:4326-1993?
136. What is the significance of IS:13827-1993?
137. What is the significance of IS:13828-1993?
138. What is the significance of IS:13920-1993?
139. What is the significance of IS:13935-1993?
140. Masonry buildings _______________ structures.
141. Ground vibrations during earthquakes cause _______________ forces.
142. What are the general weak points in buildings?
143. What are weak and strong directionals in masonry brick houses?
144. What is box action in masonry walls?
145. Typically smaller opening in wall _______________ resistance.
146. Why cement-sand-mortar with lime is the most stable building material to resist earthquake
147. Why brick masonry buildings attract large horizontal forces during earthquakes?
148. Why loosely connected roof or unduly slender walls are threatened by strong seismic waves?
149. Why large openings weaken walls are not stable during earthquakes?
150. How will the damage in building with rigidly built staircase result during strong earth tremors?
151. How can design earthquake-resistant detailing of staircase be done in masonry buildings?
152. What is the role of horizontal bands in masonry buildings?
153. Why in general masonry houses collapse during strong earth tremors?
154. Give the significance of IS:4326-1993 and IS:13828.
155. What is spandrel masonry, wall pier masonry and still masonry?
156. Why stones are commonly used for building construction particularly in rural India?
157. What are the resistant features in buildings?
Chapter 12

Site Investigation Techniques for Civil

Engineering Projects
Learning Objectives

➠ use of toposheets and computerized maps

➠ global positioning system (GPS)
➠ use of satellite imageries in updating maps
➠ role of field techniques in Engineering Geology
➠ role of geophysical surveys in Civil/Geotechnical Engineering
➠ interpretation of maps in site investigation
➠ educational utilization of Indian standards

An engineering geologist must define, document and evaluate geological
conditions corresponding to design, construction and maintenance of civil
engineering structures. The geological aspects of the civil engineering site have
to be studied in detail before commencement of the projects. Latest trends are
used in many developed countries to even examine the concrete rock aggregate
utilized for major civil engineering constructions, such as nuclear power houses,
hydropower generators, super onshore and offshore structures, etc.
Micropetrographical studies of concrete rock aggregates are made compulsory
for any construction firm, either government or private, before utilization in civil
engineering works. In addition, microscope exploration is utilized to study the
reaction of concrete aggregates with cement during construction. International
specific codes are available for utilizing the micropetrographic technology in
civil engineering constructions. In our country, the Bureau of Indian Standards
(BIS) has designed a few specific codes for this purpose.
Site selection, design and construction of public works, such as roads,
buildings, bridges, dams, reservoirs, tunnels, etc., are influenced by site-specific
geological conditions. The basic information of the proposed civil engineering
site has to be recorded in the field. Engineering geology data is required from
planning stage up to the completion and maintenance of the project.
The application of engineering geology has become an integral part in the
various stages of site selections for civil engineering projects right from the
planning stage to execution stage. Engineering Division of Geological Survey of
India (GSI), therefore works in close collaboration with the major executing
bodies like Central Water and Power Commission, Public Works departments,
State Electricity boards, Defence organizations, Public Health departments, etc.
An endorsement from the GSI has become a prerequisite for sanction of any
projects/dams. Any field geological survey requires basic information about the
project site, such as project requirement and procurement of the toposheets of
the corresponding project area from Survey of India. In any field, it is a must to
have the required toposheet of the region from the planning stage to the end of
the project. In site investigation, technicians should have the basic knowledge of
readability of the toposheets and its interpretations before planning the project.
In engineering geological field investigations, the technicians should have the
basic information about toposheets, both topographical and computerized.

▆ Toposheets/Topographic Maps
Geological Survey of India, a department under Ministry of Science and
Technology of Government of India, prepares topographic maps on 3 different
scales: 1:25,000, 1:50,000 and 1:2,50,000. All maps prepared by Survey of India
have the top of the map towards north so that study of the map is easy. All maps
represent some area of the surface of the earth. The state, district and taluka that
the map represents is indicated in the north margin and the sides of the map.
Names of localities, villages and towns, which fall in the area of the map are
indicated in the body of the map. It is important to know which geographical
area the map sheet represents, compared to the world map. The maps, are
numbered and this system of sheet numbering of Survey of India is called the
‘India and adjacent countries series’. The area bound by 4° to 40° North
Latitude and 44° to 124° East Longitude is divided into a mesh of 4° Latitude
and 4° Longitude. Each square of 4° * 4° is numbered serially from 1 to 136
leaving the squares completely covered by sea. A number denotes each square.
This is the limit of 1:10,00,000 scales. Each million scale is divided into 16
equal parts of 1° *1° and recognised by alphabets A to P. Each such part is the
bounding limit of a map on 1:250,000 scale. Each 1:250,000 scale is divided into
16 equal parts representing 15×15 of the geographical area known as 1:50,000,
1:250,000 and 1:1 M sheet number. In order to facilitate the identification of the
sheets around a map, an index is given to the sheet in the bottom left corner of a
map. The year of survey, year of printing, etc., are also indicated in the map so
that the map-reader can know whether the map is updated or not (Bhat, 2000).

Symbols Used
Each map covers a specific area that is indicated on the map as longitudes and
latitudes. In order to facilitate the identification of other toposheets around a
toposheet, an index to sheet is given in the bottom left corner of a map. All
features on the surface of the earth are represented on a topographic map
depending on the scale. Symbols are of different types—point, line and area. The
symbols of temple, tree, church, etc., are point symbols. Roads, rivers, railway
lines, etc., are linear features and represented by different types of lines.
Gardens, lakes, cultivated areas, forest areas, etc., are features covering areas
and they are represented by area symbols with their boundaries so that the map
user becomes familiar with the symbols as he or she reads the map. Differently
coloured symbols are used to represent features of the area, and are given in the
symbol table in the bottom right and left corners of each map. However, symbols
alone cannot give full information. In order to enhance the use and readability of
the map, descriptive information is given along with the symbols in the map.
The descriptive information indicates the type of the feature and its importance.
P.O. (means post office in that place), motorability of a road, weekly fairs and
annual festivals of the area are also indicated in the map (Bhat, 2000).

Representation of Relief
An important aspect of a toposheet map is the information of height. The surface
of the earth is not perfectly flat as there are hills, mountains, rivers, valleys, etc.
Without the information regarding height, the map becomes incomplete. In order
to represent the height of a place on the surface of the earth, we require common
data as per which the height of the place or object can be measured and
represented. The level determined by continuously measuring the level of the sea
over a long period is called the Mean Sea Level and is used as datum for
representing the heights of objects on the surface of the earth. The information is
represented by contours. Contours are imaginary lines joining points of equal
elevation above the datum—Mean Sea Level. Accurate measurements can be
made using trigonometric levelling. Survey of India also prepare a number of
maps, such as road map, railway map, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, motoring,
trekking, thematic maps, etc.

▆ Latest Trends in Toposheets

The mapping process is being automated gradually with the introduction of
computers, as detailed below:

Field Surveying
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are being used to determine the latitude,
longitude and height of place, by using the satellites in orbits. This has
considerably reduced the number of working hours to determine the positions of
remote areas. Total stations facilitate recording angle and distance measured in
the field directly in floppies, which can be fed to a digital workstation and
mapping can be done straightaway without manual cartography. GPS utilization
is being practiced now increasingly in all major civil engineering projects.
Location of the point on the field in the map can be correlated with GPS data

GPS in Field Surveys

The GPS is a satellite-based navigation system consisting of a network of 24
orbiting NAVSTAR* satellites that are at an elevation of 20,100 km in space and
in six different orbital paths. The satellites are constantly orbiting in their paths,
making two revolutions around the earth in 24 hours. The orbits are tilted
towards the Equator by 55°.

GPS Satellite Information

• The first GPS satellite was launched in February, 1978.
• Each satellite weighs about 2,000 pounds (800 kg) and is 17 feet (5.2 m)
across with the solar panel extended.
• Each satellite transmits two signals, L1 and L2. Civilian GPS uses the L1
frequency of 1,575.42 MHz.
• Each satellite has a life of approximately 10 years. Replacements are
constantly being built and launched into the orbit. The GPS programme is
currently funded with replacements through 2006.
The orbital paths of these satellites take them roughly between 60° North
and 60° South latitudes. What this means is you can receive satellite signals
anywhere in the world at any time.
One of the biggest benefits over the previous land-based navigation system
is that GPS works in all weather conditions. No matter what your application is,
where you need it the most, your GPS receiver will keep on working.

What Information Does a GPS Satellite Transmit?

The GPS signal contains a pseudo-random code, ephemeris and almanac data.
The pseudo-random code identifies which satellite is transmitting or in other
words an ID code. We refer to satellites by their PRN (Pseudo-random number)
from 1 through 32 and this is the number displayed on a GPS receiver to indicate
which satellite(s) signals we are receiving. Ephemeris data contains important
information, such as satellite status (healthy or unhealthy) and current date and
time. The almanac data tells the GPS receiver the position of each GPS satellite
throughout the day. Each satellite transmits almanac data that provides orbital
information for all of the satellites in the GPS network.

What is GPS?
Each satellite transmits a message, which essentially states its ID code, current
position and the time when the massage was sent. The GPS system reads the
message and saves the ephemeris and almanac data for continuous use. Now, to
determine your position, the GPS receiver compares the time a satellite signal
was transmitted with the time it was received by the GPS. The time difference
tells the GPS receiver how far away that particular satellite is. If we add distance
measurements from a few more satellites, we can triangulate our position. With a
minimum of three or more satellites, a GPS receiver can determine a
latitude/longitude position—what is called a 2D position fix. With four or more
satellites a GPS receiver can determine a 3D position fix, which includes
latitude/longitude and altitude. By continuously updating your position, a GPS
receiver can also accurately provide speed and direction of travel (referred to as
ground speed and ground track). The accuracy of GPS depends upon satellite
geometry, multipath error and atmospheric delay. However, for defence
parameters, USA designed a system with data accuracy of location from 60 to
255 feet (18 to 78 metres) (Garmin, 2001), website reference
(www.garmin.com). A typical GPS receiver is shown in Fig. 12.1.

Fig. 12.1. GPS receiver

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation and
surveying system used for real-time position. The Navigation Satellite Timing
and Ranging Global Position System (NAVSTAR GPS) is very useful in the
fields of modern surveying, navigation and mapping. The GPS is being used the
world over for numerous applications in various fields. GPS consists of
hardware and software. The data is collected using a GPS receiver, which is a
very quick and accurate technique compared to conventional surveying
techniques like theodelites and EDMs (Patel, 2002).
The paper maps (toposheets, road maps, railway maps, etc.) are gradually
being replaced by computerised maps. Survey of India has converted map data
on 1:250,000 scale to digital form and stored it in the National Data Base of
Geographical data. This data is useful to create Geographic Information System
(GIS). More recently, computers fitted in cars and planes have maps being used
by individuals to identify their positions and distances while travelling. Such
facilities are made possible by using the Geographic Data Base provided in
digital form. It can also be used by police to spot the place of crimes and locate
vehicles in transition on the national highways by linking the database to
satellites. From the digital database of maps, computerised mapping is being
resorted to, so that the delay in manual cartography is avoided. Geographic
database system in GIS and digital mapping is being utilized in geological
mapping of engineering projects. GIS and digital mapping products are being
utilized in preparation of base geological maps of the project sites.

▆ Satellite Imageries for Map Updating

Map updating is an important aspect. Cities are developing very fast and villages
are undergoing considerable changes due to socio-economic developments.
Satellite imagery of the IRS series having a resolution of about 5 metres,
provides very good data to update the maps for major details like roads, railway
lines, canals, water features, forest coverage, etc., and these are being used for
incorporating map updating information. As this data is available in digital form,
it can be directly used in computers and digitally extracted for superimposing on
maps. Expertise in interpreting is required for quick and accurate image
interpretation. In civil engineering projects, site-specific geological map of the
civil engineering project site requires the improved version of enhanced satellite
imageries for various applications (Bhat, 1999).
Toposheets and computerised maps of any part of the country are available
for user agencies, from the GSI head office and regional offices. Maps have
enormous data and are therefore important in the planning of irrigation projects,
wasteland development programmes, civil engineering constructions, geological
mapping, alignment of roads, railway lines, mining projects, etc. Without, these
the planning will be only in abstract form and will result in wastage of enormous
funds during execution stage (Bhat, 2000). A typical part of unrestricted
toposheet is presented in the figures 12.2–12.4 for interpretation of all
physiographic features, point lines, linear features, contour elevations, etc.

▆ A Note on Survey of India

The Survey of India is the national survey and mapping organization of our
country, under the Ministry of Science and Technology and is the oldest
scientific department of the Government of India. It was set up in 1767.
Its officers and staff have to pioneer untrodden for others to follow and
build upon. They have to go to the deepest forests and swamps, to the remote
corners of the land, to the lowest coastal belts and the highest snowy mountains
– in fact they are the first to reach virgin and uninhabited areas. There they
ceaselessly, faithfully and unobtrusively toil to produce the maps so essential for
development, defence and administration. In the process they get familiar with
each and every corner of the country and its deep interiors and mingle with the
soil, dust and the people of India. They truly live up to their motto ‘A SETU
HIMACHALAM’, which means ‘from Cape Comorian to the Himalayas’.
A civil engineer and engineering geologist who invariably refers to the top
sheets of our country for preparation of survey maps and geological maps, etc.,
must know about the Survey of India. In all civil engineering applications it is a
must to procure toposheets of the region before planning. In all geological
studies, preparation of geological maps, he must use toposheets of the region,
where he wants to map the area. Students, research scholars and faculty must
know the activities of Survey of India and their capabilities in the field of
preparation of toposheets, topographic maps, cartographic maps, etc.
Students/scholars/teaching faculty/user agencies/departments can get the maps
from this organization. An informative note is added for the benefit of the users.

▆ Survey of India – Activities

The Survey of India acts as an adviser to the Government of India on all survey
matters, viz, geodesy, photogrammetry, mapping and map reproduction.
However, main responsibilities of the Survey of India are enumerated below:
(a) All geodetic control (horizontal and vertical) and geodetic surveys
(including tide predictions for 40 ports in Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and
Bay of Bengal, in the region from Suez to Singapore) and allied
geophysical surveys.
(b) All topographical surveys and mapping within India.
(c) Mapping and production of geographical maps and aeronautical charts.
(d) Survey for development projects.
(e) Survey of forests, cantonments, large-scale cities, guide maps, etc.
(f) Survey and mapping of special maps, e.g., river, rain areas and geographical
explorations authorized by the Government of India.
(g) Spellings of geographical names.
(h) Demarcation of the external boundaries of the Republic of India, their
depiction on maps published in the country and also advice on the
demarcation of interstate boundaries.
(i) Training of officers and staff required for departmental trainees from Central
Governemnt Departments and States and trainees from foreign countries as
are sponsored by the Government of India.
(j) Research and Development in cartography, printing, geodesy,
photogrammetry, topographical surveys and indigenization.
(k) Coordination and control in providing aerial photographic cover over the
whole of the world.
In addition to the above responsibilities, the Survey of India renders advice
and information on all kinds of surveys and cartographic matters practically to
all the ministries and departments of the Government of India as well as other
organizations requiring their services.

▆ Survey of India – Other Services

Aerial Photography of India
The first recorded aerial photography in India was flown in 1927 on a scale 4
inch: 1 M. Since then, over the years, nearly the entire country has been aerially
photographed on various scales. Of late, developments in the disciplines of
photogrammetry and specially photo-interpretation in the country, have given an
impetus to increased requirements for aerial photography and this has
consequently led to the need for quality control, necessitating the use of special
materials and processes. Today, in addition to the panchromatic (black and
white) colour, false colour and multi-spectral photography, taken with modern
cameras are also available. Further diversification is envisaged over the coming
years, Survey of India – the National Surveying and Mapping Organization,
controls and coordinates all work related to aerial photography in the country.
Availability of aerial photographs (for students, faculty, research scholars
and user organizations).
For requirements and inquiries about aerial photography and those cleared
for use of educational purposes, write to
The Officer In charge
No. - 73 (APFPS) Party
Survey of India
West Block No. 4
Wing No. 2, R. K. Puram
New Delhi - 110066
▆ Geodetic and Research Branch
This Directorate is in the forefront of Geodetic Research in the country and is the
repository of invaluable data. Different types of data gathered during various
geodetic operations are analysed and kept here for use in the department as well
by several other important departments, institutes, laboratories and
Users may write to:
Geodetic & Research Branch
Survey of India, 17, E. C. Road
Dehra Dun (Uttaranchal)

▆ Survey Training Institute

The Survey Training Institute, which is located at Uppal, Hyderabad, runs a
variety of courses in all disciplines connected with land surveying. This institute
is responsible for imparting basic and advanced training to the officers and staff
of the departments as well as to trainees from other Central and State
Government departments. Other organisations and trainees from foreign
countries as are sponsored by the Government of India are also trained here.
Details can be obtained from:
The Additional Surveyor General
Survey Training Institute
Hyderabad - 500039

▆ Modern Cartographic Centre and Digital Mapping Centre

Survey of India under the modernization programme with a view to meet the
users, emerging mapping needs and for extension of the state of art in digital
mapping technology, has set up three centres, namely, the Modern Cartographic
Centre at Dehra Dun and digital mapping centres, one at Dehra Dun and the
other at Hyderabad. Each of these centres is equipped with an integrated digital
map production. Presently, all these centres are engaged in digitization and
creation of a National Digital Cartographic Database on a 1:250,000 scale.
Users may write to or contact:
(a) Director
Modern Cartographic Centre
Survey of India, No. 6 Block
Hathibarkala Estate, Post Box No. 193
Dehra Dun - 248001
(b) Director
Digital Mapping Centre
Survey of India, 17, E.C. Road
Dehra Dun - 248001
(c) Director
Digital Mapping Centre
Survey of India
Hyderabad - 500039

▆ Consultation for Requirement of Survey

Government and other agencies in need of a special survey to be carried out for
projects, etc., should contact the Director of the Regional Circle, Survey of India
who is responsible for topographical surveys in the area concerned. Location of
various Directorate offices and their broad regional responsibility (statewise) is
indicated below:
Address Jurisdiction
For topographical surveys

(1) Director, Northern Circle Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal

No. 17, E.C. Road,
Dehra Dun - 248001
(2) Director North Western Circle Haryana, Himachal Pradesh Punjab,
Survey of India Complex Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir
Sector 32-A Chandigarh-160047
(3) Director, Western Circle Gujarat, Rajasthan and Daman & Diu
Geejgarh House
Civil Lines
Jaipur - 302006
(4) Director, Central Circle Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh
No. 314, Napier Town,
Jabalpur - 482001
(5) Director Maharashtra, Dadar & Nagar Haveli
South Central Circle
No. 3-4-525/38
Hyderabad - 500027
(6) Director Goa, Karnataka, Kerala (except parts of
Southern Circle Coimbatore and Udgamandalam)
Sarjapur Road Lakshadweep and Pondicherry (except
Koramangala II Block Yaman Distt)
Bangalore - 560034
(7) Director South part of Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand
South Eastern Circle
Survey Bhavan (II Floor)
P. O.: RR Lab
Bhubaneshwar - 751013
(8) Director West Bengal,Bihar, Sikkim, Andaman &
Eastern Circle Nicobar Islands
North part of No. 13, Wood Street Kolkata -
(9) Director Assam, Manipur-Meghalaya Nagaland,
North Eastern Circle Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram
Bonnie Brae Estate
P.B. No. 89
Shillong - 793001
(10) Director Andhra Pradesh and Yaman Distt. of
South Eastern Circle Pondicherry
(P.M.P.P) Uppal
Hyderabad - 500039
(11) Director, Survey (Air) Delhi, parts of the Coimbatore and
West Block No. 4 Udagammandalam districts
Wing No. 4, R. K. Puram
New Delhi - 110066

For precision survey, data and other publications:

(12) Director All states and Union territories

G & RB
No. 17, E.C. Road
Dehra Dun - 248001

Printing of Geographical, Topographical Extra-departmental Maps

Printing of all geographical maps, bulk of topographical and extra-departmental
maps and sundry paid-for jobs is carried out in the Map Publication Directorate,
which also controls the map record and issue office at Dehra Dun. In addition,
this Directorate is also responsible for certification of extra boundaries and the
coastal line of India, appearing on all private and other publications and also for
transliteration of names.
For enquiries write to:
The Director
Map Publication, Survey of India
Hathibarkala Estate, Post Box No. 28
Dehra Dun - 248001
For any other additional information, communication may be addressed to:
The Surveyor General of India
Survey of India, Hathibarkala Estate
Post Box No. 37, Dehra Dun - 248001
Various maps of Survey of India are prime requisites in all geological,
topographical and civil engineering works. Survey of India and associated
organisations already prepared various maps in different scales that are available
for users. Students, research scholars, faculties, organizations that are involved
in geological or civil engineering surveys can obtain all maps from the different
divisions of Survey of India as detailed below:
Note: For supply of maps, actual cost with details of maps desired is required to be sent in advance along
with a bank draft that should be in favour of Senior Accounts Officer, Central Pay & Accounts
Office, Survey of India, Dehra Dun (Uttaranchal), Postage/packing charges will be extra.

(1)* Officer In-charge

Map Record & Issue Office
(MPD Survey of India), P.B. No. 28,
Hathibarkala Estate
Dehra Dun - 248001
(*Mail supplier of all maps)
(2) Officer In-charge
Map Sales Office
Southern Circle
Survey of India
Janpath Barracks A, 1st Floor
New Delhi - 110001
(3) Officer In-charge
Map Sales Office, Southern Circle
Survey of India, P.B. No. 3403
Sarjapur Road, Koramangala IInd Block Bangalore - 560034
(4) Director
Eastern Circle, Survey of India
No. 15, Wood Street, Kolkata - 700016
(5) Section Officer
Map Sales Office
Survey of India, Uppal, Hyderabad - 500039
(6) Section In-charge
Map Sales Office
C/O No. 89(P) Party (CC)
Survey of India, E-6/1, Arera Colony
Bhopal - 462016
(7) Officer In-charge
Map Sales Office
South Eastern Circle, Survey Bhavan
P.O.: RR Laboratory, Bhubaneshwar - 751013
(8) Officer In-charge
No. 19 Party (NC), Survey of India
PICUP Bhavan, B-2 Block, IInd Floor
Vibhuti Khand, Gomati Nagar
P.B. No. 328, Lucknow - 226010
(9) Officer In-charge, Map Sales Office
C/O No. 9, D.O. (NWC)
Survey of India Complex, Sector 32-A
Dakshin Marg, Chandigarh - 160026
(10) Officer In-charge, Map Sales Office
C/O No. 83 Party (WC), Survey of India
34, Muktanand Nagar
Gopalpara Bypass
Tonk Road, Jaipur - 302015
(11) Officer In-charge
No. 21, Party (SC)
Survey of India, CGO Complex
Punkulam, P.O. Vellayani
Thriuvananthapuram - 695522
(12) Director,
North Eastern Circle
Survey of India, Bonnie Brae Estate
P.B. No. 89, Shillong - 793001
(13) Officer In-charge
No. 31, Party (SCC), Survey of India
Phule Nagar, Alandi Road
Pune - 411006
(14) Officer In-charge
No. 94 (AM) Party, Survey of India
Western Zone 4, Wing-4
Ground Floor
R.K. Puram, New Delhi - 110066
(15) Officer In-charge
No. 35 Party (NEC)
Survey of India
Ganeshguri, Charali Dispur
G.S.Road, Guwahati - 781006

▆ Maps of the Restricted Zone

Maps on scales larger than 1:1 million of certain areas, published by the Survey
of India are classed as restricted. The limit of such areas has been shown by a
thick line on the index maps. Restricted maps are issued to government offices,
educational and scientific institutions and semi-government organizations,
including public undertakings for bona fide purposes. Applications for such
maps must, however, be made on Form 0.57(a) obtainable from any of the
Survey of India Map Sales Offices mentioned in the above list. Issues of such
maps are made subject to the conditions mentioned in the form and these are
liable to be revised by the Ministry of Defence. Every student should clearly
indicate the purpose for which the maps are required. Private individuals and
organisations/commercial firms can also obtain RESTRICTED MAPS subject to
their demand being approved by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India,
through the State Government to whom they apply.

▆ Geodetic, Geophysical, Trigonometrical and Height Data

For geodetic and geophysical data request should be made to the Director,
Geodetic & Research Branch, Survey of India, 17, E.C. Road, Dehra Dun. For
trigonometric and height data circle of Survey of India, data of certain accuracy
is restricted and can be supplied only after getting clearance from the Ministry
of Defence.

▆ Maps for Sale from Survey of India

• Topographical Maps
• General Wall Maps
• State Maps on Scales 1:1 Million
• Plastic Relief Maps
• Trekking Maps on Scales 1:250,000
• Miscellaneous Maps
• Special Maps
• Antique Map Series
• Discover India Series
• State Map Series 1:1M
(Source: Maps published by Survey of India-Brochure, 2002)

▆ Engineering Geological Field Investigations

The basic objective of geologic field/site investigation is to provide complete
geological information on the selected site. It is required to demarcate the
proposed area and field data and to systematically record it on the map. They are
broadly grouped into two types (1) Surface investigations (2) Subsurface

Surface Investigations
Surface field/site investigations are broadly subgrouped into two types (1)
Geological techniques (2) Remote sensing and GIS (Geographic Information
System). Remote sensing and GIS applications are discussed exclusively in this

Subsurface Investigations
Subsurface investigations are being carried out using the geophysical methods of
investigation, which are discussed later in the text.

▆ Geological Techniques
Geologic surveying is the systematic examination of any region/site for
geological information. Prior to site/field investigation, the basic thing is to
prepare a study plan. This depends upon complexity of the site geology, nature
and type of civil engineering structures and the level of the previous survey.
Some field condition necessitates study of the site in preliminary, comprehensive
or detailed manner depending upon the available geological information. In
some conditions the plan may require modifications or deletions. Hence, close
coordination between engineering geologist and civil engineers/geotechnical
engineers on the project is a must from the preliminary to final stage. In addition,
both of them must decide about the collection of data, survey and
instrumentation required for the project at different stages.
Geological fieldwork is the systematic examination of any region for
geologic information. This involves (a) study and interpretation of rocks,
topographic forms, etc. (b) determination of location where observations are
made in field (c) plotting of rock formations or outcrops and other geological
and structural data on map.
Preparation of a systematic plan is quite essential for beginning a field
problem. One should properly acquaint with the area personally or through
collected literature. After preliminary reconnaissance, one can start his field
problem with accuracy and efficiency. In search for geologic information in the
field, the following points should be taken into consideration:
(1) The names and geologic age of each formation exposed.
(2) The names and geologic ages of formations, which may underlie the
exposed formations.
(3) The structural and general relationships of rock formations.
(4) The physiographic and topographic conditions in the region and relations
between these conditions and various rock formations.
(5) General strike and dip of the exposed rock formations.
(6) Field correlation of rocks with reference to (a) lithology (b) topographic
expression (c) stratigraphical sequence (d) fossil content if present.
(7) During field work, fresh and unweathered rock samples of rectangular size
are to be collected for field and lab studies.

▆ Geological Mapping
An engineering geologist must define, document and evaluate specific site
geologic conditions relating to the design, construction and maintenance of civil
engineering structures. The site that is proposed for a civil engineering structure
should be safe and suitable for economic design and construction. It is necessary
to evaluate the geologic conditions of the area during the initial planning.
Geological mapping is to be done by determining and plotting the locations
of certain selective stations or points. The representative points serve as controls
in mapping the geologic structures, i.e., the geology of the area, lithology,
attitudes of rock formations, physiographic or geomorphological features of the
region in accordance with the requirements of the field engineer.
The site-specific basic geological maps will be prepared by the geologists
incorporating the all available/visible geological features. The scale of the map
depends upon the requirements of the project engineer. During the preparation of
a geological map care must be taken to record every possible direct observation
of geological structures in the field. The information given to the engineer is to
be reliable. The geological map is the two dimensional representation of data
about rock exposures, hilltops, steep slopes, stream beds, contact zones of rock
formations, coastal configurations, etc. Here we discuss the basics of geological
maps and the interpretation. After studying these aspects we will discuss the
applications of various maps in civil engineering projects.


A geological map represents predominantly the distribution of rock types, their
distribution and their interrelationships. General geological maps of the country,
state and district represent the major geological formations and their distribution.
Geological Survey of India, had already prepared the standard geological maps
of the each state, district and the entire country. In addition, exclusive maps of
each state and the country were also prepared showing the mineral resources.
GSI already prepared different maps with different scales incorporating
geological, mineralogical, structural and tectonical features. Geological Survey
of India, Engineering Division also prepared site-specific major civil engineering
projects maps. General geological maps of the country, state or district, etc., are
available with GSI and user agencies can get these from them. However,
restricted maps showing strategic locations and other precious minerals, atomic
minerals, seabed maps, etc., will not be sold to individuals or user agencies.
Procurement of these maps requires prior approval from the Director General
GSI with stipulated terms and conditions.
Civil engineering works require a site-specific geologic map. General
geological maps prepared by the Geological Survey of India or State Mines and
Geology departments and other agencies give the generalized geology of the
region. In all civil engineering projects the basic requirement is to prepare a site-
specific geologic map of the region. In this process a map will be prepared
incorporating all the geological features, rock types and their extensions. Such
maps will be prepared in the field measuring the dimensions of rock outcrops,
hill features, structural trends, etc., and be documented. However, specific
geological maps are required, depending upon the civil engineering projects such
as tunnel mapping, reservoir site mapping, landslide mapping, etc.
Different geological investigations, which are currently being practiced in
various civil engineering site selections and constructional activities, are already
described in the chapters like dam and reservoirs, tunnels, landslides, bridges
and site investigation techniques. All investigations require basic geological map
preparation and interpretation. However, the applicability depends upon the civil
engineering structures which are going to be built and other geological
considerations. Any site-specific geological work requires preparation of the
site’s geological map and its interpretations.

▆ Study of Site-specific Geological Maps

A site-specific geological map represents the geological features of that
particular site. The basic study to understand the geological map is to study the
contours of the site and analyse the topography of the site.

Interpretation of Contours
A contour is a smooth curved line joining points of equal elevations measured
from the Mean Sea Level (MSL). All contours run almost parallel to one
another. In any case contours do not cross each other. In any given toposheet
there is a constant difference in height between any two consecutive contours. It
is called Contour Interval (CI) also known as Vertical Interval. The spacing of
contours is controlled by the slope or gradient. The distance between two points
is the horizontal distance to a particular scale. It is also called Horizontal
Equivalent (HE). Each contour is numbered indicating its reference to mean seal
level. Contour interval depends upon the toposheet, how it was originally
prepared, such as keeping 20, 50 or 100 metre intervals. However if you require
intercontour elevations that are not drawn on the original toposheet, you have to
draw them yourself using survey instruments. Presently photogrammetrical
techniques are being practiced for the generation of topographical maps. In
accessible regions, enemy country regions, defence requirements, etc.,
photogrammetrical techniques are being utilized for the generation of
topographical maps of that region.
In geological mapping the first stage is to collect the corresponding
toposheet from the Survey of India, and select the region for geological mapping
on the toposheet itself. Generally, a tracing sheet will be superimposed on the
required region on the toposheet with respect to longitude and latitude and all
contours in that particular area will be traced on tracing sheet. GPS also
presently using to site-specific location in the field with respect to longitude,
latitude. In the second stage all geological formations with their altitude are
incorporated onto the map with scale and direction. In this process a geological
map will be prepared incorporating the geological formations with contours.
(i) Topography: Geological map interpretation is made to determine and
analyse the topography of the region. Contour interpretation indicates the
topography of the region.
(ii) Interpretation of hill or elevated region: When a contour of higher value
is surrounded by contours of lower value it represents an elevated or hilly
region. In addition if contours are closely spaced it indicates a steep
slope, on the other hand if they are far apart it indicates gentle slope.
(iii) Interpretation of valley and flow of streams: Contours on toposheets or
in geological maps are helpful in inferring the direction of rivers,
streams, etc. Whenever contours are far apart it shows moderate slope. In
addition V-shaped contour lines indicate the presence of a valley and
indirectly indicate the flow direction of surface water through the valley
region. In depressions or basins, contours of lower value are surrounded
by contours of higher value.
(iv) Interpretation in planning of reservoir, canal, tunnel, roads, railways,
power lines, pipelines, airports, etc.: Contours are helpful to policy
makers and civil engineers for assessment of the flow of surface water in
a particular river basin. In any reservoir planning the first stage is to
calculate the catchment region of that particular basin. A series of
toposheets covering all the river basins is required for drawing the
catchment region. River basin catchment area can be inferred by drawing
the boundaries of the flow of streams entering into the river basins and
others flowing to other basins. Stream flow directions are already
mapped on all toposheets, and we have to demarcate the region and draw
the catchment area. Digital plainmeters are being used for calculation of
the drainage basin, catchment area, drainage density, frequencies, etc.,
which can be inferred while analysing the toposheet with respect to
contour elevations and stream flow direction, etc. Government agencies
and water resource engineers will prepare first hand information on the
total catchment region, available rainwater, stream density, etc., before
planning for any reservoir.
Contour elevations of the reservoir catchment area are also helpful for the
assessment of stored water in that particular reservoir thereby aiding the planners
and water resource engineers. If there is any rise in existing reservoir height by
local government, it is possible to estimate how much will be the water rise and
in which localities will it be, based on the contour elevations of the catchment
region. This will help the local government to assess the total submergence area
and they can plan for compensation to the affected people and other government
sponsored relief and rehabilitation measures, etc.
In any major reservoir or dam, the canal excavation is an important aspect
as it ensures that the stored water reaches the beneficiary region. Generally,
canal planning will be first drawn on the toposheets of the corresponding
adjacent region taking into account the elevations with respect to contours.
Canals are mostly planned along the contours. However, if gentle slope is
required it can be assessed with the contours. If specific region requires reservoir
water but it is not possible to reach that site due to higher elevation, such area
can be suggested for lift irrigation methods, drawing the canals up to the possible
Laying of roads, railway lines, tunnel excavations, power lines, pipelines,
airports, etc., can be initially planned while interpreting the corresponding
toposheets. Proposals for railway lines, roads, etc., can be planned and the
possible estimates to the government can be made before starting of the project.
Toposheets help the local administrators in assessing the possible
physiographic/geomorphic regions, drainage basins, rivers network, elevated
regions, types of lands, etc. Topographic map interpretation gives first hand
information to planners before starting the field survey. In addition tunnel
excavations, pipelines, power lines, etc., can be planned based on the
interpretation of the corresponding toposheets.
(v) Interpretation of younger and older series of rock formations: Contour
lines are helpful in estimating the younger or older series of the rock
formations in that particular region. Generally, younger rock formations
pass through the higher contour elevations and the older series are
intercepted by lower contour lines. However, geologically twisted or
overturned formations do not follow this method and other
palaeontological or radiometric dating techniques are required to
determine the older and younger formations.

Determination of Strike of the Inclined Formations

In any geological map, thick lines indicate the geological rock formations.
Wherever the bedding planes cut the contour line it indicates the formations
having inclined beds and further the strike and dip direction and amount can be
determined. A typical geological map before and after drawing the strike lines
and the section along the profile are presented in the Figs. 12.2 and 12.3.

Fig. 12.2. The geological map of the area

Fig. 12.3. Map after drawing strike lines


▆ Questions
(i) Draw a cross section of the map along XY and describe the geological
history of the area.
(ii) Determine the dip and strike of the formations.
(iii) Find out the order of superposition and vertical thickness of beds.
(iv) A horizontal tunnel is proposed at an altitude of 100 m. Discuss its
feasibility and suggest suitable precautionary measures.
Calculation of dip angle of beds:
Tan θ = Contour interval/(Strike interval*scale)
Dip angle, θ= Tan–1 (Contour interval/strike
= Tan–1 (100/(1*100)
= Tan–1 (1)
= 45°

Fig. 12.4. Section along XY

▆ Determination of Dip Direction and Amount of Dip

Determination of Direction of Dip

Select a bedding plane which is intersected by any two consecutive contours.
Join points of intersections of a contour with the bedding plane. It forms the
strike line of that particular altitude (height). It is called strike line or stratum
contour. Select another set of intersections of the neighbouring contour for the
same bedding plane. Join them. It forms another strike line – lower or higher
than the previous one. Both strike lines run parallel to each other. In the above
map select the bedding plane shale and cal shale. It is cut by 200 and 300
contours. So select shale-bedding formations (or any plane) intersected by a
single contour at least twice. Join both the points and extend up to the borders of
the map. It forms the strike line. Draw strike lines to both. Fix the arrowhead at
200-strike line. Measure the direction. It dips westwards. Strike is North-South.
Determination of Amount of Dip
Measure the perpendicular distance between two adjacent strike lines. It is the
horizontal distance or horizontal equivalent (HE) between two strike lines. The
difference in the height of strike lines is the contour interval (CI).
Dip = Contour Interval / Horizontal equivalent
In the above map measure the perpendicular distance, it is 1cm. It is 100 m
with reference to a given scale. Contour interval is also 100 m.
So, Dip = CI/HE
= 100/100 = 1
= 45° (refer tangent table)
The dip is also expressed in gradient 1 in 1. To represent the inclination in
the geological cross section, it is to be shown dipping toward Y. Measure 1 cm
on the datum line and draw a perpendicular of 1 cm downwards. Join X and the
base of the perpendicular and extend. It is the gradient 1 in 1 towards East or Y.
Measure the angle, it is 45°.

Procedure for Drawing the Cross Section Along the Profile

Draw a cross section along XY, mark all contour and bedding points on to the
datum line. Transfer all contour point elevations on to the ordinary graph sheet,
mark X and Y-axis with reference to scale. Project the transferred contour points
into topography. Mark the elevations. Join these contour elevations with
freehand, extend topography up to the X and Y. Project the datum line marked
bedding planes vertically to the same location on to the topography. In the above
map seven bedding planes (Lst, Sh, Cal Sh, Banded Shale, Red Sst, CGSst and
Cong. to be marked on the topography).
Dip amount and direction are already determined with respect to stratum
contours in this map dip amount is 1 in 1 or 45°. Construct dip angle at the
datum line along the dip direction towards West. The bedding planes which were
projected on to the topography to be drawn parallel to the dip amount and
direction starting from its existing point on to the topography to be extended in
the same trend. Thus, all bed formations are drawn on the section. This process
completes the section along the profile XY.

Determination of the Order of Superposition

In geological map interpretation determination of the order of the superposition
plays a vital role in calculation of thickness of the existing bedding planes. In the
above map all the rock formations are deposited conformably one above the
other. The topmost formation is limestone followed by shale, cal sh, banded
shale, red sandstone, CGSst and conglomerate. The sequential deposition of
these formations reveals that the youngest formation is the limestone and the
oldest formation is conglomerate. In addition it can also be interpreted that in
normal undisturbed geological formations the youngest formations exist at the
highest contour elevation and the oldest formations at the lowest elevated

Determination of Thickness of the Formations

In any geological map interpretation it is a must to calculate the thickness of the
bedding planes. Measure the thickness with the scale, in the given map scale is 1
cm = 100 m. Thickness can be measured with perpendicular to the bedding
planes. The top limestone and bottom conglomerate formations covered by
topography so thickness are variable. The other bedding planes thickness
assessed say Sh = 100 m, Cal Sh = 100 m, Banded Sh = 200 m, Red Sst = 200
and CGSst = 200 m respectively.
In civil engineering excavation the thickness of each bedding plane is
required. A civil engineer can plan for these excavations based on the thickness
and requirements.

Determination of Structural Features in the Map

In the above map all the beds are dipping westwards 1 in 1 dip (45°). All the
beds are striking north south. Structurally all the beds are deposited conformably
one above the other in inclined formations.

Interpretation of the Geological Map for Tunnel Proposal – Civil

Engineering Point
In the geological map provided, a tunnel is proposed at the altitude of 100 m.
The tunnel is planned along eastwest direction in the direction of dip of the
inclined strata. The proposed tunnel passes through all geological strata at 100 m
level. Along the coarse-grained sandstone and conglomerate, since they are
porous, concrete lining is required. This measure minimizes the seepage of
ground water into the tunnel. Red sandstones due to ferrous content are compact
and consolidated and will not allow seepage of ground water. Shale and banded
shale, due to presence of clay, are highly porous and less permeable. These
formations become highly plastic in nature due to the presence of water, and
swells into the tunnel. For a civil engineer/geotechnical engineer, this zone
creates more problems from the initial excavation stage to completion stage.
This zone requires non-porous concrete lining. If required, advanced remedial
measure technology has to be adopted for sealing of the highly porous shale
zones. In addition, annual maintenance and periodical check of the tunnel for its
longevity is r