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|Excavations in rock are commonly supported with wire mesh, shotcrete, wire mesh and shotcrete in combination, and shotcrete reinforced with various types of fibres. Wire rope lacing and various types of straps are additional forms of support installed over the above types, to cope with severe conditions. These support systems are very important items of ?membrane? rock support. With the recent development of several types of thin sprayed linings, the importance of membrane support is likely to increase in the future. In this paper, a wide range of mechanisms of membrane behaviour and mechanisms of loading of membranes, is described. The concepts of membrane components, which are single membranes that may be used on their own as rock support, and membrane systems, which are combinations of more than one membrane component, are introduced. Different situations have different requirements of membrane support, and differences between civil engineering and mining requirements are highlighted. With the different basic requirements in these two areas, the requirements of rock support are correspondingly different. A thorough understanding of the mechanisms of behaviour of the different types of membranes, and the different mechanisms by which the membranes are loaded, is essential before a selection of appropriate support can be made, before appropriate design methods and calculations can be determined, and before appropriate performance test methods for membranes can be defined. The material in this paper contributes towards the understanding of membrane support behaviour.|