Articles | Volume 12, issue 4
Research article
10 Apr 2012
Research article |  | 10 Apr 2012

Detailed rock failure susceptibility mapping in steep rocky coasts by means of non-contact geostructural surveys: the case study of the Tigullio Gulf (Eastern Liguria, Northern Italy)

P. De Vita, A. Cevasco, and C. Cavallo

Abstract. In this study, an engineering geological analysis for the assessment of the rock failure susceptibility of a high, steep, rocky coast was developed by means of non-contact geostructural surveys. The methodology was applied to a 6-km coastal cliff located in the Gulf of Tigullio (Northern Tyrrhenian Sea) between Rapallo and Chiavari.

The method is based on the geostructural characterisation of outcropping rock masses through meso- and macroscale stereoscopic analyses of digital photos that were taken continuously from a known distance from the coastline. The results of the method were verified through direct surveys of accessible sample areas. The rock failure susceptibility of the coastal sector was assessed by analysing the fundamental rock slope mechanisms of instability and the results were implemented into a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The proposed method is useful for rock failure susceptibility assessments in high, steep, rocky coastal areas, where accessibility is limited due to cliffs or steep slopes. Moreover, the method can be applied to private properties or any other area where a complete and systematic analysis of rock mass structural features cannot be achieved.

Compared to direct surveys and to other non-contact methods based on digital terrestrial photogrammetry, the proposed procedure provided good quality data of the structural features of the rock mass at a low cost. Therefore, the method could be applied to similar coastal areas with a high risk of rock failure occurrence.