Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 1227–1245 | Cite as

A Combined Remote Sensing–Numerical Modelling Approach to the Stability Analysis of Delabole Slate Quarry, Cornwall, UK

  • Mohsen Havaej
  • John Coggan
  • Doug Stead
  • Davide Elmo
Original Paper


Rock slope geometry and discontinuity properties are among the most important factors in realistic rock slope analysis yet they are often oversimplified in numerical simulations. This is primarily due to the difficulties in obtaining accurate structural and geometrical data as well as the stochastic representation of discontinuities. Recent improvements in both digital data acquisition and incorporation of discrete fracture network data into numerical modelling software have provided better tools to capture rock mass characteristics, slope geometries and digital terrain models allowing more effective modelling of rock slopes. Advantages of using improved data acquisition technology include safer and faster data collection, greater areal coverage, and accurate data geo-referencing far exceed limitations due to orientation bias and occlusion. A key benefit of a detailed point cloud dataset is the ability to measure and evaluate discontinuity characteristics such as orientation, spacing/intensity and persistence. This data can be used to develop a discrete fracture network which can be imported into the numerical simulations to study the influence of the stochastic nature of the discontinuities on the failure mechanism. We demonstrate the application of digital terrestrial photogrammetry in discontinuity characterization and distinct element simulations within a slate quarry. An accurately geo-referenced photogrammetry model is used to derive the slope geometry and to characterize geological structures. We first show how a discontinuity dataset, obtained from a photogrammetry model can be used to characterize discontinuities and to develop discrete fracture networks. A deterministic three-dimensional distinct element model is then used to investigate the effect of some key input parameters (friction angle, spacing and persistence) on the stability of the quarry slope model. Finally, adopting a stochastic approach, discrete fracture networks are used as input for 3D distinct element simulations to better understand the stochastic nature of the geological structure and its effect on the quarry slope failure mechanism. The numerical modelling results highlight the influence of discontinuity characteristics and kinematics on the slope failure mechanism and the variability in the size and shape of the failed blocks.


Photogrammetry Delabole Quarry Slope stability Discrete fracture networks Distinct element simulation 



The authors would like to thank George Hamilton from the Delabole Slate Company Ltd for access to Delabole Quarry. The authors would also like to thank Charlie Matthews from Leica™ Geosystems for undertaking laser scanning and data processing allowing the authors to carry out geomechanical interrogation and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohsen Havaej
    • 1
  • John Coggan
    • 2
  • Doug Stead
    • 1
  • Davide Elmo
    • 3
  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Camborne School of MinesUniversity of ExeterCornwallUK
  3. 3.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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