Weathering of Rocks in Brazil

  • Eduardo Antonio Gomes Marques
  • Eurípedes do Amaral VargasJr
  • Marcio Fernandes Leão


Weathering comprises an important mechanism controlling the mechanical behavior of Brazilian rocks in civil and mining engineering works. The intense physical and chemical weathering caused by tropical climate imposes severe changes on strength and deformability behavior of rocks and creates a complex weathering profile which must be appropriately understood in order to provide useful design information and avoid or reduce geotechnical problems. In this chapter, information is presented on the main effects of weathering acting on rocks in Brazil, focusing on the effect of the process on physical, chemical, mineralogical, and mechanical characteristics. Results of several field descriptions and laboratory results are presented. These results show that most rocks behave as soft rocks in different stages of weathering. At the end of the chapter some studies currently under development on this theme are presented.


Soft rocks Tropical weathering Weathering morphology Geomechanical properties Physical parameters Mineralogical characteristics 


  1. Agliardi F, Crosta G, Zanchi A (2001) Structural constraints on deep-seated slope deformation kinematics. Eng Geol 59:83–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akai K (1997) Testing methods for indurated soils and soft rocks—Interim report. ISSMFE—TC 22—Technical Commmittee on Indurated Soils and Soft Rocks. Geotechnical Engineering of hard soils—soft rocks. In: Int. Symp. ISSMFE/IAEG/ISRM, Anais… Athens, Greece, vol 3, pp 1707–1737Google Scholar
  3. Anagnostopoulos A, Schlosser F, Kalteziotis N, Frank R (1993) Geotechnical engineering of hard soils—soft rocks, vols 1 and 2. In: Proceedings of an International Symposium under the asupices of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering (ISSMFE), the International Association of Engineering Geology (IAEG) and the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM), Athens, GreeceGoogle Scholar
  4. Arel E, Önalp A (2004) Diagnosis of the transition from rock to soil in a granodiorite. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng ASCE 130:968–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aydin A, Basu A (2005) The Schmidt hammer in rock material characterization. Eng Geol 81:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aydin A, Duzgoren-aydin NS (2002) Indices for scaling and predicting weathering-induced changes in rock properties. Environ Eng Geosci 8:121–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Azevedo I, Marques EAG (2002) Introduction to Rock Mechanics. Viçosa:UFV. p. 363Google Scholar
  8. Basu A, Aydin A (2004) A method for normalization of Schmidt hammer rebound values. Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. 41:1211–1214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Basu A, Celestino TB, Bortolucci AA (2009) Evaluation of rock mechanical behaviors under uniaxial compression with reference to assessed weathering grades. Rock Mech Rock Eng 42:73–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bhasin R, Barton N, Grimstad E, Chryssanthakis P (1995) Engineering geological characterization of low strength anisotropic rocks in the Himalayan region for assessment of tunnel support. Eng Geol 40:169–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barroso EV (1993) Estudo das características geológicas e do comportamento geotécnico de um perfil de intemperismo em leptinito. UFRJ: Dissertação (Mestrado em Geologia), UFRJ, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  12. Barton N (1973) Review of a new shear-strength criterion for rock joints. Eng Geol 7:287–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Beavis FC (1985) Rockweathering. Engineering Geology. Blackwell Scientific,MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  14. Brimhall GH, Dietrich WE (1986) Constitutive mass balance relations between chemical composition, volume, density, porosity, and strain in metasomatic hydrochemkai systems: results on weathering and pedogenesis. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 51:567–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brown RT (1981) Rock characterization testing and monitoring. ISRM Suggested Method. Pergamon Press, Oxford. 211 pGoogle Scholar
  16. Carvalho TRR, Marques EAG, Leão MF, Illambwetsi AM (2017) Perfis de Intemperismode filito sob clima tropical, na região do Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais, Brasil. In: 16o. Congresso Nacional de Geotecnia, Açores, Portugal. Sociedade Portuguesa de Geotecnia, Lisbon, p 7 (In Portuguese)Google Scholar
  17. Ceryan S, Zorlu K, Gokceoglu C, Temel A (1998) The use of cation packing index for characterizing the weathering degree of granitic rocks. Eng Geol 98:60–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chadwick AO, Brimhall GH, Hendricks DM (1990) From a black to a gray box a mass balance interpretation of pedogenesis. Geomorphology 3:369–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chittleborough DJ (1991) Indices of weathering for soils and paleosols fonned on silicate rocks. Aust J Earth Sci 38(1):15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chiu HK, Johnston IW, Donald IB (1983) Appropriate techniques for triaxial testing of satured soft rocks. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr 20:107–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ciampone MA, McVEY DE, Gerke TL, Briggs WD, Zhang Y, Maynard JB, Huff WD (1992) Non-systematic weathering profile in the Blue Ridge Mountains, role of geochemical variables. Geol Soc Am Abstr Prog 24(7):214Google Scholar
  22. Colman SM (1982) Chemical weathering of basalts and andesites: evidence from weathering rinds. US Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap., no. 1246, 51 pGoogle Scholar
  23. Darmody RG, Thorn CE, Allen CE (2005) Chemical weathering and boulder mantles, Kärkevagge, Swedish Lapland. Geomorphology 67:159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. De Jayawardena US, Izawa E (1994) A new chemical index of weathering for metamorphic silicate rocks in tropical regions: a study from Sri Lanka. Eng Geol 36:303–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dearman WR (1974) Weathering classification in the characterization of rock for engineering purposes in British practice. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 9:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dearman WR (1976) Weathering classification in the characterization of rock: a revision. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 13:123–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dearman WR, Baynes FJ, Irfan TY (1978) Engineering grading of weathered granite. Eng Geol 12:345–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Deere DU, Patton FD (1971) Slope stability in residual soils. In: Pan. Conf. Soil Mech. Found. Eng., 4. Puerto Rico, Proceedings… Puerto Rico, ISSMFE, p. 87–170Google Scholar
  29. Dick JC, Shakoor A (1990) The effects of lithologic characteristics on mudrock durability. In: 6 Int. Congress, Int. Assoc. engineering Geology, Anais… Amsterdam, vol 4, pp 3061–3066Google Scholar
  30. Dick JC, Shakoor A (1992) Lithological controls of mudrock durability. Q J Eng Geol Lond 25:31–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dobereiner L (1984) Engineering geology of weak sandstones. PhD Thesis, Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London, 471 pGoogle Scholar
  32. Dobereiner L (1989) Constructions problems related to excavation on soft rocks. Proceedings 12th Int. Cong. Soil Mech. Found. Eng., General Report. ISSMFE, Rio de Janeiro, p. 4Google Scholar
  33. Dobereiner L, Durvile JL, Restituito J (1993) Weathering of the Massiac Gneiss (Massif Central, France). Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 47:79–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Dobereiner L, Porto CG (1990) Considerations on the weathering of gneissic rocks. Eng. Group Meeting on the Geol. of Weak Rock, 26th Annual Conf. of B.G.S., Leeds, 1990. Proceedings... Leeds, B.G.S, pp. 228–241Google Scholar
  35. Fedo CM, Nesbitt HW, Young GM (1995) Unraveling the effects of potassium metasomatism in sedimentary rocks and paleosols, with implications for paleoweathering conditions and provenance. Geology 23:921–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Franklin JA, Chandra A (1972) The slake durability test. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr 9:325–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gardner LR (1980) Mobilization of AL and Ti during weathering - isovolumetric geochemical evidence. Chem Geol 30:151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gardner LR (1992) Long-term isovolumetric leaching of aluminum from rocks during weathering: implications for the genesis of saprolite. Catena 19:521–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gautam TP, Shakoor A (2013) Slaking behavior of clay-bearing rocks during a one-year exposure to natural climatic conditions. Eng Geol 166:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gidigasu MD (1971) The importance of soil genesis in the engineering classification of Ghana soils. Eng Geol 5:117–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Gidigasu MD (1974) Degree of weathering in the identification of laterite materials for engineering purposes: a review. Eng Geol 8:213–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gökçeoglu C, Aksoy H (2000) New approaches to the characterization of claybearing, densely jointed and weak rock masses. Eng Geol 58:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Goldich SS (1938) Stone line profiles: importance in geochemical exploration. J Geochem Explor 30:35–61Google Scholar
  44. Goodman RE (1989) Introduction to rock mechanics, 2nd edn. Wiley., 562 p, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Goodman RE (1993) Engineering geology. Rock in engineering construction. Wiley, New York. 412 pGoogle Scholar
  46. Greco R, Sorriso-Valvo M (2005) Relationships between joint apparent separation, Schmidt hammer rebound value, and distance to faults, in rocky outcrops, Calabria, Southern Italy. Eng Geol 78:309–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Gupta AS, Rao KS (2000) Weathering effects on the strength and deformational behaviour of crystalline rocks under uniaxial compression state. Eng Geol 56:257–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Harnois L (1988) The CIW index: a new chemical index of weathering. Sediment Geol 55:319–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Harnois L, Moore JM (1988) Geochemistry and origin of the ore chimmey formation, a transported paleoregolith in the Greenville Province of Souteastern Ontario, Canada. Chem Geol 69:267–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Harrassowitz HL (1926) Material und Versuch erdgeschichtlicher Auswertung, vol 4. Fortschritte der Geologie und Paläontologie, Berlin, p 14Google Scholar
  51. Hawkes I, Mellor M (1970) Uniaxial testing in rock mechanics laboratories. Eng Geol 4:177–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Hawkins AB, Pinches GM (1992) The engineering description of mudrocks. Q J Eng Geol Lond 25(1):17–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Heidari M, Momeni AA, Naseri F (2013) New weathering classifications for granitic rocks based on geomechanical parameters. Eng Geol 166:65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Holanda CEF, Bueno GT (2010) Comportamento de elementos químicos em ambiente supergênico e pedogênese – Parque Municipal das Mangabeiras, Quadrilátero Ferrífero (MG). Rev. de Geografia. Recife: UFPE – DCG/NAPA, vol especial VIII SINAGEO, n. 3Google Scholar
  55. Hu R, Oyediran IA, Gao W, Zhang X, Li HL (2014) “Plagioclase solution degree index”: a new index to evaluate the weathering degree of granite. Bull Eng Geol Environ 73:589–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Hudec P (1998) Rock properties and physical processes of rapid weathering and deterioration. In: Moore DP, Hungr O (eds) Proceedings of 8th International congress of IAEG, vol 1. Rotterdam, Balkema, pp 335–341Google Scholar
  57. IAEG (1981) Rock and soil description and classification for engineering geological mapping. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 24:235–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. ISRM – International Society of Rock Mechanics (2015) In: Ulusay R (ed) The ISRM suggested methods for rock characterization, testing and monitoring: 2007–2014, 5th edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  59. Jenny H (1941) Factors of soil formation. McGraw-Hill., 281 p, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Kanji MA (2014) Critical issues in soft rocks. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 6:186–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Katz O, Reches Z, Roegiers J-C (2000) Evaluation of mechanical rock properties using a schmidt hammer. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 37:723–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lana MS (2014) Numerical modeling of failure mechanisms in phyllite mine slopes in Brazil. Int J Min Sci Technol 24(6):77–789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Lashkaripour GRE, Passaris EKS (1995) Correlations between index parameters and mechanical properties of shales. In: 8 Int. congress rock mechanics, ISRM, Anais… Tokyo, vol 1, pp 257–261Google Scholar
  64. Leão MF (2015) Análise tensão-deformação de uma barragem de concreto gravidade em solo residual preponderantemente anisotrópico. Dissertação (Mestrado em Engenharia Civil), Departamento de Engenharia Civil, UERJ, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  65. Leão MF, Marques EAG (2016) Morphology and geotechnical characterization of a phyllite weathering profile developed under tropical climate. In: 5th International conference on geotechnical and geophysical site characterisation, Anais…QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  66. Leão MF (2017) Geomechanical behavior of phyllite weathering front in the region of Quadrilátero Ferrífero. Tesis (Geology), Departament of Geology, UFRJ, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  67. Leão MF, Polivanov H, Barroso EV, Marques EAG, Vargas EA Jr (2016) Weathering of metapelites from the Quadrilátero Ferrífero mineral province, southeastern Brazil. Bull Eng Geol Environ. Scholar
  68. Lee SG, Freitas MH (1988) Quantitative definition of highly weathered granite using the slake durability test. Géotechnique 38:635–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Licht OAB (1998) Prospecção Geoquímica: princípios, técnicas e métodos. CPRM., 35 p, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  70. Lumb P (1962) The properties of decomposed granite. Géotechnique 12(3):226–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Marques EAG (1992) Study of Alteration and Alterability of Some Shales and Siltites of Recôncavo Sedimentar Basin – Bahia. Dissertation (Geology). Departament of Geology, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro. (in portuguese)Google Scholar
  72. Marques EAG, Vargas EA Jr (1994) Alteration studies of some shales and siltstones of the Recôncavo sedimentary basin - Northeast Brazil. In: 7 International congress of the International Association of Engineering Geology, 1994, Lisboa. Anais…. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  73. Marques EAG (1998) Geomechanical Characterization of a Weathering Profile in Kinzigite. Departament of Geology, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro. (in portuguese)Google Scholar
  74. Marques EAG, Vargas EA Jr, Antunes FS (2005) A study of the durability of some shales, mudrocks and silstones form Brazil. Geotech Geol Eng 25:321–348. Scholar
  75. Marques EAG, Barroso EV, Menezes Filho AP, Vargas EA Jr (2010) Weathering zones on metamorphic rocks from Rio de Janeiro – physical, mineralogical and geomechanical characterization. Eng Geol 111:1–18. Scholar
  76. Marques EAG, Williams DJ (2015a) Weathering Profiles of Bunya Phyllite in Southwest Brisbane - a Geotechnical Approach. In: 12 Australia New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics, 2015. Wellington. Anais... Wellington: Changing the Face of the Earth, v. 1, p. 1–8Google Scholar
  77. Marques EAG, Williams DJ (2015b) Weathering Profiles of Some Sandstones from Sunshine Coast, Australia Morphological and Geotechnical Approach. In: 49th United States Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium, 2015b, San Francisco. ARMA 2015. San Francisco: American Rock Mechanics Association, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  78. Marques EAG, Williams DJ, Rodrigues IA, Leão MF (2017) Effects of weathering on characteristics of rocks in a subtropical climate: weathering morphology, in situ laboratory and mineralogical characterization. Environ. Earth Sci. 76:602–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Martin RP (1986) Use of index tests for engineering assessment of weathered rocks. In: 5 Int. Congress, Int. Assoc. Engineering Geology, Anais… Buenos Aires, 5th, pp 433–450Google Scholar
  80. Menezes Filho AP (1993) Geological–geotechnical aspects of an Augen gneiss weathering profile. M.Sc. Thesis, Department of Geology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 229p. (in portuguese)Google Scholar
  81. Momeni A, Hashemi SS, Khanlari GR, Heidari M (2017) The effect of weathering on durability and deformability properties of granitoid rocks. Bull Int Assoc Eng Geol 76:1037–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Moye DG (1955) Engineering geology for the Snowy Montain scheme. J Inst Eng 27:287–298Google Scholar
  83. Nesbitt HW, Young GM (1982) Early proterozoic climates and plate motions inferred from major element chemistry of lutites. Nature 279:715–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Ojima LM, Rodrigues JD (1983) Weathering of phyllite in Morgavel Tunnel. In: Int. IAEG Symp. on engineering geology and underground construction, Anais… Lisboa, vol 1, pp I1–I14Google Scholar
  85. Pells OJN, Ferry MJ (1983) Needles stringency in sample preparation standards for laboratory testing of weak rocks. In: 5 Int. Congress rock mechanics, ISRM, Anais… Melbourne, vol 1, pp A203–A207Google Scholar
  86. Pinheiro AL (2002) Análise de rupturas em taludes no morro do Curral, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais. Dissertação (Mestrado em Engenharia Mineral). UFOP, Ouro Preto, MG, 116 pGoogle Scholar
  87. Pinho AB (2003) Caracterização Geotécnica de Maciços Rochosos de Baixa Resistência – o Flysch do Baixo Alentejo. Évora: Tese (Doutorado Geologia), Universidade de Évora, ÉvoraGoogle Scholar
  88. Price DG (2009) In: de Feitas MH (ed) Engineering geology, principles and practice. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, p 442Google Scholar
  89. Reiche P (1943) Graphic representation of chemical weathering. J Sediment Petrol 13:58–68Google Scholar
  90. Rodrigues FP, Grossman NF, Rodrigues LF (1978) Rock mechanics tests of the Mingtan pumped storage project. LNEC Report, Lisbon, 2 Vol.Google Scholar
  91. Rocha Filho P, Antunes FS, Falcão MFG (1985) Quantitative influence of the weathering upon the mechanical properties of a Young gneiss residual soil. In: First Int. Conf. Geomech. Trop. Lateritic Saprolitic Soils Brasilia, v. 1, p. 281–294, Anais… BrasilGoogle Scholar
  92. Russel DJ (1982) Controls on shale durability: the response of two Ordovician shales in the slake durability test. Can J 19:1–3Google Scholar
  93. Ruxton BP, Berry L (1957) Weathering of granite and associated erosional features in Hong Kong. Bull Geol Assoc Amer 68:1263–1292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Ruxton BP (1986) Measures of the degree of chemical weathering of rocks. J Geol 76:518–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Santiago LOR, Marques EAG, Costa TAV (2005) Characterization of the influence of weathering and aletrability on the mechanical strength of some rocks of the Quadrilátero Ferrífero. In: 11° CBGE, Florianópolis. p. 1845–1858. (in portuguese)Google Scholar
  96. Santiago LOR (2008) Mineralogical, Mechanical and Alterability Characterization of Intrusive Basic Rocks and Sericitic Phyllites of the Quadrilátero Ferrífero Region. Tesis (Civil Engineering) – UFV, Viçosa. (in portuguese)Google Scholar
  97. Short NM (1961) Geochemical Variations in Four Residual Soils. J Geol 69(5):534–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Somers GF (1988) Foundation problems of residual soils. In: International Conference on Engineering Problems of Residual Soils, Beijing, China, 1988. Proceedings…, pp 154–171Google Scholar
  99. Sutton SJ, Maynard JB (1992) Multiple alteration events in the history of a sub-huronian regolith at lauzon bay, Ontario. Can J Earth Sci 29(3):432–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Taylor RK, Smith TJ (1986) The engineering geology of clay minerals: swelling, shrinking and mudrock breakdown. In: Proc. Conference Clay Minerals, Anais… Durham, vol 21, pp 235–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Taylor RK (1988) Coal measures mudrocks: composition, classification and weathering processes, vol 21. Quartely Journal Engineering Geology, London, pp 85–99Google Scholar
  102. Thanachit S, Suddhiprakarn A, Kheoruenromne I, Gilkes R (2005) The geochemistry of soils on a catena on basalt at Khon Buri, northeast Thailand. Geoderma 135:81–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Tugrul A (2014) The effect of weathering on pore geometry and compressive strength of selected rock types from Turkey. Eng Geol 75:215–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Van Der Weijden CH, Van Der Weijden R (1995) Mobility of major, minor and some redox-sensitive trace elements and rare-earth elements during weathering of four granitoids in central Portugal. Chem Geol 125:149–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Vogt T (1972) Sulitjelmafeltets geologi og petrografi. Norges Geologiske Undersokelse 121(3–4):1–560 (in Norwegian, with English abstract)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo Antonio Gomes Marques
    • 1
  • Eurípedes do Amaral VargasJr
    • 2
  • Marcio Fernandes Leão
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  2. 2.Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

Personalised recommendations