, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1579–1592 | Cite as

Effects of sampling interval on the frequency - magnitude relationship of rockfalls detected from terrestrial laser scanning using semi-automated methods

  • Megan van Veen
  • D. Jean Hutchinson
  • Ryan Kromer
  • Matthew Lato
  • Tom Edwards
Original Paper


Using change detection and semi-automated identification methods, it is possible to extract detailed rockfall information from terrestrial laser scanning data to build a database of events, which can be used in the development of the frequency-magnitude relationship for a slope. In this study, we have applied these methods to the White Canyon, a hazardous slope that presents rockfall hazards to the CN Rail line in British Columbia, to build a database of rockfalls including their locations, volumes, and block shapes. We identified over 1900 rockfall events during a 15-month period, ranging in volume from 0.01 to 45 m3. The frequency of these events changed throughout the year, with the highest periods of activity occurring over the winter months. We investigated how the sampling interval, or duration between scans, can affect how the rockfalls are identified, and therefore the frequency-magnitude relationship for the slope using datasets with fewer scans. We show that as the duration between scans becomes larger, fewer rockfalls are detected, as multiple events that have occurred in the same location cluster together into a single event. The results of this study can be used to assist the railways in planning the appropriate number and duration between future scans, in order to capture frequency-magnitude data for the slope with a desired level of detail.


Terrestrial laser scanning LiDAR Rockfall hazard Rockfall frequency-magnitude Change detection 



This research was supported by the Canadian Railway Ground Hazard Research Program (CN Rail, CP Rail, Transport Canada, Geological Survey of Canada). Support was also provided by BGC Engineering Inc. through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship Program. Thanks are given to Matthew Ondercin and Emily Rowe for their assistance in data collection as well as staff from the Kumsheen Rafting Resort for providing logistical support and site access.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan van Veen
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Jean Hutchinson
    • 1
  • Ryan Kromer
    • 1
  • Matthew Lato
    • 2
  • Tom Edwards
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences and Geological EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.BGC Engineering Inc.TorontoCanada
  3. 3.Canadian National RailwayEdmontonCanada

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