Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
17 Mar 2009
 | 17 Mar 2009

Detection of millimetric deformation using a terrestrial laser scanner: experiment and application to a rockfall event

A. Abellán, M. Jaboyedoff, T. Oppikofer, and J. M. Vilaplana

Abstract. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is one of the most promising surveying techniques for rockslope characterization and monitoring. Landslide and rockfall movements can be detected by means of comparison of sequential scans. One of the most pressing challenges of natural hazards is combined temporal and spatial prediction of rockfall. An outdoor experiment was performed to ascertain whether the TLS instrumental error is small enough to enable detection of precursory displacements of millimetric magnitude. This consists of a known displacement of three objects relative to a stable surface. Results show that millimetric changes cannot be detected by the analysis of the unprocessed datasets. Displacement measurement are improved considerably by applying Nearest Neighbour (NN) averaging, which reduces the error (1σ) up to a factor of 6. This technique was applied to displacements prior to the April 2007 rockfall event at Castellfollit de la Roca, Spain. The maximum precursory displacement measured was 45 mm, approximately 2.5 times the standard deviation of the model comparison, hampering the distinction between actual displacement and instrumental error using conventional methodologies. Encouragingly, the precursory displacement was clearly detected by applying the NN averaging method. These results show that millimetric displacements prior to failure can be detected using TLS.