Articles | Volume 3, issue 5
31 Oct 2003
31 Oct 2003

A methodology for physically based rockfall hazard assessment

G. B. Crosta and F. Agliardi

Abstract. Rockfall hazard assessment is not simple to achieve in practice and sound, physically based assessment methodologies are still missing. The mobility of rockfalls implies a more difficult hazard definition with respect to other slope instabilities with minimal runout. Rockfall hazard assessment involves complex definitions for "occurrence probability" and "intensity". This paper is an attempt to evaluate rockfall hazard using the results of 3-D numerical modelling on a topography described by a DEM. Maps portraying the maximum frequency of passages, velocity and height of blocks at each model cell, are easily combined in a GIS in order to produce physically based rockfall hazard maps. Different methods are suggested and discussed for rockfall hazard mapping at a regional and local scale both along linear features or within exposed areas. An objective approach based on three-dimensional matrixes providing both a positional "Rockfall Hazard Index" and a "Rockfall Hazard Vector" is presented. The opportunity of combining different parameters in the 3-D matrixes has been evaluated to better express the relative increase in hazard. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the hazard index with respect to the included variables and their combinations is preliminarily discussed in order to constrain as objective as possible assessment criteria.