Rock Quality Designation (RQD)

Rock Quality Designation (RQD) is a rough measure of the degree of jointing or fracture in a rock mass measured as a percentage of the drill core in lengths of 10 cm or more, high-quality rock has rock quality designation of more than 75% whereas low quality has RQD of less than 50%.

Pieces of the rocks whose length is greater than 100mm are not considered for calculation of RQD.

Those pieces of rock that are hard and of good quality are considered and the weathered rocks do not satisfy the soundness requirements.

The length of the core pieces is measured along the centerline; the RFQ test provides an assessment of the damage caused by rock sound and weathering.

Rock core samples for RQD calculations:


The following table shows the values of RQD of different quality of rocks.

Rock Quality RQD (%)
Very poor (completely weathering rocks) <25%
Poor (cracked rocks) 25 to 50%
Fair (moderately pitted rocks) 51 to 75%
Good (hard rock) 76 to 90%
Very good (fresh rocks) 91 to 100%

Determination of Rock Quality Designation (RQD):

For the calculation of roux core recovery and RQD, see the following process:

Rock core recovery calculation:

Core recovery is calculated by the following formula:

Core recovery (CR) = (total length of recovered rock / total core run length) x100

There, the total length of the rock = 250 + 200 + 250 + 190 + 60 + 80 + 120 = 1150 mm

Total core run length = 1200mm

Therefore, core recovery (CR) = (1150/1200) x100 = 96%

Rock quality designation RQD = (SUM {sound piece length> 100 mm} / total core run length) x 100

SUM {length of sound pieces> 100 mm} = 250 + 190 + 200 = 640 mm

Therefore, RQD = (640/1200) x100 = 53% which are rocks of fair quality, i.e. the rocks are of medium scale.

Necessary Measures:

RQD is used with all core sizes other than BQ and BX cores are perfect with NQ core sizes.

The core brakes initiated by the drilling process must be fitted collectively and calculated as a single piece of sound core.

Drilling brakes are typically eliminated by rough fresh surfaces & for the laminated rocks, it would be difficult to classify core breakage due to drilling.

In this case, RQD should be conservatively estimated:

For classification of shear strength, do not calculate the size of the near-horizontal fissure.

Whereas, for estimates of rock blasting requirements, it is customary to estimate the length of the horizontal gap approximately.

Advantages of Rock Quality Designation (RQD):

  1. This test provides an evaluation of the soundness of the rocks and the damage because of weathering.
  2. It is helpful to determine weak rock zones which are crucial in the construction of heavy structures.
  3. RQD has many functions in mining, engineering geology, and geotechnical engineering.
  4. Tunneling situations are also determined.
Also read: Soil Classification & Soil Liquefaction

Disadvantages of Rock Quality Designation (RQD):

  1. Rock quality designations have variable values ​​relying on the direction of the track.
  2. It doesn’t provide data on core pieces that are lower than 10 cm.
  3. This provides incorrect values ​​in where the joints comprise thin clay filler or weathering materials.

Uses of Rock Quality Designation (RQD):

  • Rock quality designation is used to estimate the quality of rocks such as degree and depth of weathering, rock weakness, and areas of cracking.
  • This information is used to conclude the depth of the foundation, to find the carrying capacity of the rocks, also to find the settlement of the foundation and sliding possibilities.
  • RFQ helps to achieve favourable tunnelling conditions and to estimate the areas with poor quality rocks that cannot support engineering structures.
Also read: California Bering Ratio (CBR) Test & Slump Test
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is meant by rock quality designation?

RQD is the percentage of continuous drill core pieces longer than 10cm during a core run,

What is rock mass classification system?

Rock mass classification systems are used for various engineering design and stability analysis.

How to calculate rock quality designation?

RQD = (SUM {sound piece length> 100 mm} / total core run length) x 100


RQD is a technique designed by geologists to determine qualitative information so that engineers can do mathematics.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

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