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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 24 Jan 2019

Research article | 24 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Simulation of Fragmental Rockfalls Detected Using Terrestrial Laser Scans from Rock Slopes in South-Central British Columbia, Canada

Zac Sala1,2, D. Jean Hutchinson1, and Rob Harrap1 Zac Sala et al.
  • 1Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, K7L 3N6, Canada
  • 2BGC Engineering Inc., Vancouver, V6Z 0C8

Abstract. Rockfall presents an ongoing challenge to the safe operation of transportation infrastructure, creating hazardous conditions which can result in damage to roads and railways, as well as loss of life. Rockfall risk assessment frameworks often involve the determination of rockfall runout in an attempt to understand the likelihood that rockfall debris will reach an element at risk. Rockfall modelling programs which simulate the trajectory of rockfall material are one method commonly used to assess potential runout. This study aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of a rockfall simulation prototype which uses the Unity3D game engine. The technique is capable of simulating rockfall events comprised of many mobile fragments, a common limitation of available rockfall modelling programs. Five fragmental rockfalls were simulated using the technique, with slope and rockfall geometries constructed from high-resolution terrestrial laser scans. Simulated change detection was produced for each of the events and compared to the actual change detection results for each rockfall as a basis for testing model performance. In each case the simulated change detection results aligned well with the actual observed change in terms of location and magnitude. An example of how the technique could be used to support the design of rockfall catchment ditches is shown. Suggestions are made for future development of the simulation technique with a focus on better informing simulated rockfall fragment size and the timing of fragmentation.

Zac Sala et al.
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Status: open (until 21 Mar 2019)
Status: open (until 21 Mar 2019)
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Zac Sala et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The work carried out for this study is part of a collaborative research program studying the impact of ground hazards on transportation infrastructure in Canada. The focus of the paper is the testing and application of a new simulation technique which can model the movement of falling rock material. These initial tests show that our simulation technique is capable of re-producing material accumulations from rockfall events which occurred above a section of railway in British Columbia, Canada.
The work carried out for this study is part of a collaborative research program studying the...