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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-279
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-279
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  17 Oct 2020

17 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Cascade effect of rock bridge failure in planar rock slides: explicit numerical modelling with a distinct element code

Adeline Delonca1, Yann Gunzburger2, and Thierry Verdel2 Adeline Delonca et al.
  • 1Departamento de Ingeniería Metalúrgica y de Materiales (DIMM), Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Campus San Joaquín, Santiago, Chile
  • 2GeoRessources, UMR 7359, Université de Lorraine – CNRS, Ecole des Mines de Nancy, Campus ARTEM, BP14234 FR-54042 Nancy Cedex, France

Abstract. Plane failure along inclined joints is a classical mechanism involved in rock slopes movements. It is known that the number, size and position of rock bridges along the potential failure plane are of main importance when assessing slope stability. However, the rock bridges failure phenomenology itself has not been comprehensively understood up to now. In this study, the propagation cascade effect of rock bridges failure leading to catastrophic block sliding is studied and the influence of rock bridges position in regard to the rockfall failure mode (shear or tensile) is highlighted. Numerical modelling using the distinct element method (UDEC-ITASCA) is undertaken in order to assess the stability of a 10 m3 rock block lying on an inclined joint with a dip angle of 40° or 80°. The progressive failure of rock bridges is simulated assuming a Mohr–Coulomb failure criterion and considering stress transfers from a failed bridge to the surrounding ones. Two phases of the failure process are described: (1) a stable propagation of the rock bridge failures along the joint and (2) an unstable propagation (cascade effect) of rock bridges failures until the block slides down. Additionally, the most critical position of rock bridges has been identified. It corresponds to the top of the rock block for a dip angle of 40° and to its bottom for an angle of 80°.

Adeline Delonca et al.

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Adeline Delonca et al.

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Short summary
Rockfalls are a major sources of danger, particularly along transportation routes. Thus, the assessment of their occurrence is a major challenge for risk management. One interesting factor involved in the occurrence of an event is the failure mechanism of rock bridges along the potential failure plane. This work proposes to study the phenomenology of this failure considering numerical modeling. The influence of rock bridges position in regard to the rockfall failure mode is highlighted.
Rockfalls are a major sources of danger, particularly along transportation routes. Thus, the...
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