Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
Research article
14 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 14 Mar 2012

Rockfall hazard and risk assessments along roads at a regional scale: example in Swiss Alps

C. Michoud, M.-H. Derron, P. Horton, M. Jaboyedoff, F.-J. Baillifard, A. Loye, P. Nicolet, A. Pedrazzini, and A. Queyrel

Abstract. Unlike fragmental rockfall runout assessments, there are only few robust methods to quantify rock-mass-failure susceptibilities at regional scale. A detailed slope angle analysis of recent Digital Elevation Models (DEM) can be used to detect potential rockfall source areas, thanks to the Slope Angle Distribution procedure. However, this method does not provide any information on block-release frequencies inside identified areas. The present paper adds to the Slope Angle Distribution of cliffs unit its normalized cumulative distribution function. This improvement is assimilated to a quantitative weighting of slope angles, introducing rock-mass-failure susceptibilities inside rockfall source areas previously detected. Then rockfall runout assessment is performed using the GIS- and process-based software Flow-R, providing relative frequencies for runout. Thus, taking into consideration both susceptibility results, this approach can be used to establish, after calibration, hazard and risk maps at regional scale. As an example, a risk analysis of vehicle traffic exposed to rockfalls is performed along the main roads of the Swiss alpine valley of Bagnes.