The swelling process is an impor- tant problem causing damages to the structures in or on swelling rocks, both during construction and operating life. To understand swelling problem, a number of testing methods have been developed by many researchers. In these studies, the swelling parameters, in most cases, are derived from oedometer tests. The swelling parameters determined from oedometer type tests represent one-dimensional behaviour (one-dimensional swelling law) therefore, it is quite difficult to extrapolate the oedometer type test results to the three-dimensional in-situ conditions. To overcome these problems, a three-dimensional approach is suggested for clay bearing rocks. Results of triaxial swelling tests conducted on marl from Dodurga Lignite Coal Mine are presented. Triaxial swelling characteristics of the marl are presented and design approach for tunnels is described.