, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 585–595 | Cite as

Progressive failure leading to the 3 December 2013 rockfall at Puigcercós scarp (Catalonia, Spain)

  • Manuel J. Royán
  • Antonio Abellán
  • Joan Manuel Vilaplana
Recent Landslides


A detailed analysis of the pre-failure behavior of the 3 December 2013 rockfall (1,012 m3) occurred on Puigcercós pilot study area (Catalonia, Spain) is presented. The exact date of failure was obtained based on a photographic monitoring performed every 4 h. The long-term monitoring (2,217 days) of the rock slope carried out by a Terrestrial LiDAR allowed the early detection of both pre-failure deformation and precursory rockfalls preceding the final failure. By means of the analysis of the pre-failure deformation, four different deformed areas were detected and the tertiary creep phase was observed in three of them. An attempt to predict the time to failure was performed using the Fukuzono’s (1985) method. Furthermore, the temporal evolution of the precursory rockfalls occurred in those four areas during the progressive failure showed a close resemblance with the exponential pattern of the cumulated displacements at tertiary creep stage. Finally, the study of the meteorological conditions did not show any single triggering factor associated with the final failure. Reversely, the increase in the occurrence of precursory rockfalls on several areas of the slope together with the observed acceleration on the deformation pattern reinforce the role of a progressive degradation of the stability conditions, which ultimately leaded to the 3 December rockfall event.


Rockfall Monitoring Pre-failure deformation Precursory rockfall Prediction Laser scanner 



The present study was partially supported by the NUTESA (CGL2010-18609, MICINN, and FEDER Founds), RISKNAT group (2009SGR/520 and 2014SGR/1243), and Swiss National Foundation (SNF 144040—Characterizing and analyzing 3D temporal slope evolution) projects. The first author was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports through a pre-doctoral grant (FPU12/05823). We also acknowledge the technical support of D. Garcia-Sellés in the fieldwork campaigns, as well as J. Blanchard, X. Rodriguez, F. Sanchez, and S. Fontquerni for their support in several data acquisitions. Finally, we are very grateful to the editor (Alexander Strom) and the two anonymous reviewers for their critical revision of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel J. Royán
    • 1
  • Antonio Abellán
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joan Manuel Vilaplana
    • 1
  1. 1.RISKNAT Group, GEOMODELS, Departament de Geodinàmica i Geofísica, Facultat de GeologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Risk analysis group, Institut des sciences de la Terre (ISTE), Faculté des Géosciences et de l’EnvironnementUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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