Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
15 Mar 2011
 | 15 Mar 2011

Rockfall monitoring by Terrestrial Laser Scanning – case study of the basaltic rock face at Castellfollit de la Roca (Catalonia, Spain)

A. Abellán, J. M. Vilaplana, J. Calvet, D. García-Sellés, and E. Asensio

Abstract. This case study deals with a rock face monitoring in urban areas using a Terrestrial Laser Scanner. The pilot study area is an almost vertical, fifty meter high cliff, on top of which the village of Castellfollit de la Roca is located. Rockfall activity is currently causing a retreat of the rock face, which may endanger the houses located at its edge. TLS datasets consist of high density 3-D point clouds acquired from five stations, nine times in a time span of 22 months (from March 2006 to January 2008). The change detection, i.e. rockfalls, was performed through a sequential comparison of datasets. Two types of mass movement were detected in the monitoring period: (a) detachment of single basaltic columns, with magnitudes below 1.5 m3 and (b) detachment of groups of columns, with magnitudes of 1.5 to 150 m3. Furthermore, the historical record revealed (c) the occurrence of slab failures with magnitudes higher than 150 m3. Displacements of a likely slab failure were measured, suggesting an apparent stationary stage. Even failures are clearly episodic, our results, together with the study of the historical record, enabled us to estimate a mean detachment of material from 46 to 91.5 m3 year−1. The application of TLS considerably improved our understanding of rockfall phenomena in the study area.