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Interpretation of variability of rock mass rating by geostatistical analysis: a case study in Western Turkey

Geotechnical interpretation of drillholes for rock mass characterization is commonly based on the engineering judgment. This might result in misrepresentation of the rock mass at unsampled locations. This paper investigates the reproducibility of the spatial variability of rock mass quality (rock mass rating, RMR) using geostatistics. Geotechnical data from an exploratory phase mining project in Western Turkey that covers 2.7 km depth with a total of 14 drillholes composed of 700 samples was used to perform a geostatistical analysis. RMR values of positions, where geotechnical logging was missing, were estimated by applying inverse distance weighting (IDW) and the ordinary kriging (OK) methods. The validation process showed that the OK method is consistently estimating the RMR values better than IDW. The spatial variability of RMR values by geostatistical analysis could provide valuable information in the design and development of underground or surface structures.