Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
11 Oct 2004
 | 11 Oct 2004

Parametric evaluation of 3D dispersion of rockfall trajectories

G. B. Crosta and F. Agliardi

Abstract. The capability of evaluating and managing rockfall related risks is largely based on numerical modelling. Nevertheless, the reliability and accuracy of rockfall models is greatly affected by the strong uncertainty and spatial variability which characterise all the relevant parameters. In particular, 3D effects related to the variability of slope geometry and micro-topography play a major role in controlling the dynamics of falling blocks. The most important 3D effect is the "lateral dispersion" of rockfall trajectories, largely affecting the way we model rockfall dynamics, design countermeasures and assess rockfall hazard. Nevertheless, the dependence of lateral dispersion on different controlling factors has been hardly ever systematically evaluated.

In this paper, the influence of different controlling factors on the dispersion of rockfall trajectories has been systematically evaluated by performing 3D parametric modelling. Numerical simulations have been performed through a new software code able to use both a lumped mass and an hybrid (kinematic-dynamic) approach. Parametric modelling has been performed at different spatial resolutions using sets of biplanar simplified slopes characterised by different mean inclination and roughness. Model results outlined a complex dependence of lateral dispersion phenomena on slope mean gradient (macro-topography), slope roughness (micro-topography) and the spatial resolution of the model (model-dependent topography). Furthermore, the sensitivity of model results in terms of kinematic variables of motion (i.e. velocity and height to the ground) to the factors controlling lateral dispersion has been evaluated, resulting in practical constraints on countermeasure design and hazard assessment.