The mechanical properties of conglomeratic rocks are difficult to study by conventional laboratory tests. On the other hand, in-situ tests are more representative to establish the mechanical properties of these materials but, in general, take a long time to execute and represent a high cost for projects. This paper presents a methodology to obtain the mechanical properties of a conglomerate, using the results of a numerical modeling study carried out in virtual rock samples. A conglomeratic rock from Costa Rica was used as a study case. To determine the validity of the estimation, the results from the numerical modeling were compared with data from in-situ tests performed in the same conglomerate.


Many engineering works in Costa Rica are developed in conglomerates. The engineering design of these works requires a comprehensive protocol for characterization and for evaluation of the mechanical properties of these materials.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) is currently studying the largest hydroelectric infrastructure work in Central America, El Diquís Hydroelectric Project (PHED). For this project, it is expected to have open cut sections up to 110 m high, underground excavations with a span between 6 m and 32 m, and a foundation for the 170 m high concrete face rockfill dam.

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