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Modelling rock mass structure accurately requires the determination of what degree of accuracy is needed for the rock mass model. Structural modelling requires approximations with respect to the geometry and other characteristics of the discontinuities or fractures present. Not only are there uncertainties with respect to the fracture characteristics as measured in the field, but the method of representation of these structures in a model is also subject to judgement.
Model simplification must be guided by the principle of retaining the critical characteristics of the rock mass being investigated. Of all the structural modelling techniques currently available, the use of polyhedral modellers has recently received considerable attention. This paper will discuss the benefits of modelling rock using a polyhedral representation based on finite persistence discontinuities. In particular, the predictions of such a model with respect to stability analysis, rock mass characterisation and excavation analysis will be compared to the more traditional techniques that have been used.
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