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|The acoustic emission (AE) technique has found wide application in rock engineering. Generally, acoustic emission, which is produced by a rapid microcrack growth, is an ubiquitous phenomenon associated with brittle fractures and can provide information on the failure process in rocks. The sudden release of stored energy in the form of an elastic stress wave that travels from the point of origin within the material to a boundary is called an AE signal or a discrete AE event. Based on a number of experiments and analysis, the correlations among the rock type, the complete stress-strain behaviour, mode of failure and AE properties are investigated and the AE pattern has been classified as four types: single-peak AE, double-peak AE, continuous AE and absent AE. Each type of AE pattern corresponds to a certain type of rock and is largely related to the internal structure and imperfection of a rock. Applications of the AE technique in stability monitoring, in situ stress assessment and seismic source location are also discussed.|