Hardness is one of the critical physical characteristics of minerals and rocks, which indicates the resistance of the rock to penetration, scratch, or permanent deformation. As a basic concept, rock hardness has a significant role in rock mechanics and geological engineering and is an appropriate diagnostic tool for the classification of minerals and rocks. The main purpose of this study is to guide rock engineers to measure the rock hardness faster, easier, and more accurately using Leeb's dynamic hardness test. Accordingly, this paper presents a new rock hardness classification system based on the Leeb dynamic and portable hardness testing method. It is a well-known method for its fast and straightforward procedure testing equipment. A set of 33 different rock types were collected and tested during this study. Next, in-depth microscopic mineralogical studies were performed to determine the precise Mohs hardness value. The Mohs hardness was considered the leading hardness benchmark during the experimental studies, and the Leeb hardness was adopted to classify based on this hardness. A series of laboratory studies and statistical analysis was performed to predict the Shore and Vickers hardness using Leeb hardness. Finally, based on the comparative studies, it is recommended to classify the rocks considering the Leeb hardness method in six different categories: extremely soft (1–250), soft (250–450), moderately soft (450–750), moderately hard (750–850), hard (850–920), and extremely hard (920–1000). The provided classification could be useful in a vast range of rock engineering applications, especially for feasibility studies of rock engineering projects and engineering geology.


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Leeb dynamic hardness; Mohs hardness; Rock hardness classification system; Shore; Vickers

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1435-9537; 1435-9529

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





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Publication Date

01 May 2022