Use of a probabilistic neural network to reduce costs of selecting construction rock

Natural Resources Research
By:  and 



Rocks used as construction aggregate in temperate climates deteriorate to differing degrees because of repeated freezing and thawing. The magnitude of the deterioration depends on the rock's properties. Aggregate, including crushed carbonate rock, is required to have minimum geotechnical qualities before it can be used in asphalt and concrete. In order to reduce chances of premature and expensive repairs, extensive freeze-thaw tests are conducted on potential construction rocks. These tests typically involve 300 freeze-thaw cycles and can take four to five months to complete. Less time consuming tests that (1) predict durability as well as the extended freeze-thaw test or that (2) reduce the number of rocks subject to the extended test, could save considerable amounts of money. Here we use a probabilistic neural network to try and predict durability as determined by the freeze-thaw test using four rock properties measured on 843 limestone samples from the Kansas Department of Transportation. Modified freeze-thaw tests and less time consuming specific gravity (dry), specific gravity (saturated), and modified absorption tests were conducted on each sample. Durability factors of 95 or more as determined from the extensive freeze-thaw tests are viewed as acceptable—rocks with values below 95 are rejected. If only the modified freeze-thaw test is used to predict which rocks are acceptable, about 45% are misclassified. When 421 randomly selected samples and all four standardized and scaled variables were used to train aprobabilistic neural network, the rate of misclassification of 422 independent validation samples dropped to 28%. The network was trained so that each class (group) and each variable had its own coefficient (sigma). In an attempt to reduce errors further, an additional class was added to the training data to predict durability values greater than 84 and less than 98, resulting in only 11% of the samples misclassified. About 43% of the test data was classed by the neural net into the middle group—these rocks should be subject to full freeze-thaw tests. Thus, use of the probabilistic neural network would meanthat the extended test would only need be applied to 43% of the samples, and 11% of the rocks classed as acceptable would fail early.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of a probabilistic neural network to reduce costs of selecting construction rock
Series title Natural Resources Research
DOI 10.1023/A:1024266829365
Volume 12
Issue 2
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 6 p.
First page 135
Last page 140