Multibody System Dynamics

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 241–271 | Cite as

Simulation of rockfall trajectories with consideration of rock shape

  • R. I. LeineEmail author
  • A. Schweizer
  • M. Christen
  • J. Glover
  • P. Bartelt
  • W. Gerber


The aim of the paper is to develop a fully 3D simulation technique for rockfall dynamics taking rock shape into account and using the state-of-the-art methods of multibody dynamics and nonsmooth contact dynamics. The rockfall simulation technique is based on the nonsmooth contact dynamics method with hard contact laws. The rock is modeled as an arbitrary convex polyhedron and the terrain model is based on a high resolution digital elevation model. A specialized friction law for rockfall is proposed which allows for the description of scarring behavior (i.e., rocks tend to slide over the terrain before lift-off). The influence of rock geometry on rockfall dynamics is studied through two well-chosen numerical simulations.


Natural hazards Nonsmooth dynamics Unilateral constraint Contact Friction 



The project Multi-body Dynamics of Polygonised 3D Objects with Unilateral Frictional Contact: Application to Rockfall, being a cooperation between the SLF/WSL and the Center of Mechanics (ETH Zurich), has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation under project number 200021-119613/1.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. I. Leine
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Schweizer
    • 1
  • M. Christen
    • 2
  • J. Glover
    • 2
  • P. Bartelt
    • 2
  • W. Gerber
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Mechanical Systems, Department of Mechanical and Process EngineeringETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLFDavos DorfSwitzerland
  3. 3.Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland

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