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RockGIS: a GIS-based model for the analysis of fragmentation in rockfalls


A rockfall is a mass instability event frequently observed in road cuts, open pit mines and quarries, steep slopes and cliffs. After its detachment, the rock mass may disaggregate and break due to the impact with the ground surface, thus producing new rock fragments. The consideration of the fragmentation of the rockfall mass is critical for the calculation of the trajectories of the blocks and the impact energies and for the assessment of the potential damage and the design of protective structures. In this paper, we present RockGIS, a GIS-based tool that simulates stochastically the fragmentation of the rockfall, based on a lumped mass approach. In RockGIS, the fragmentation is triggered by the disaggregation of the detached rock mass through the pre-existing discontinuities just before the impact with the ground. An energy threshold is defined in order to determine whether the impacting blocks break or not. The distribution of the initial mass between a set of newly generated rock fragments is carried out stochastically following a power law. The trajectories of the new rock fragments are distributed within a cone. The fragmentation model has been calibrated and tested with a 10,000 m3 rockfall that took place in 2011 near Vilanova de Banat, Eastern Pyrenees, Spain.

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This work has been funded by Spanish Government (Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad) through the RockRisk research project (BIA2013-42582-P) and the grant to the first author (BES-2014-069795).

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Correspondence to G. Matas.

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Matas, G., Lantada, N., Corominas, J. et al. RockGIS: a GIS-based model for the analysis of fragmentation in rockfalls. Landslides 14, 1565–1578 (2017).

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  • Rockfall
  • Fragmentation
  • GIS
  • Rockfall simulation