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

  06 Oct 2020

06 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Assessing the effect of lithological setting, block characteristic and slope topography on the runout length of rockfalls in the Alps and on the La Réunion island

Kerstin Wegner1, Florian Haas1, Tobias Heckmann1, Anne Mangeney2, Virginie Durand2,a, Nicolas Villeneuve2,3, Philippe Kowalski2,4, Aline Peltier2,4, and Michael Becht1 Kerstin Wegner et al.
  • 1Chair of Physical Geography, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Eichstaett, 85072, Germany
  • 2Université de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France
  • 3Université de La Réunion, Laboratoire Géosciences Réunion, F-97744 Saint Denis, France
  • 4Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, F-97418 La Plaine des Cafres, France
  • anow at: Helmholtz Centre Potsdam German Research Centre for Geosciences, GFZ, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. In high mountain regions, rockfalls are common processes, which transport different volumes of material and therefore endanger populated areas and infrastructure facilities. In four study areas within different lithological settings, LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data were acquired for a morphometric analysis of block sizes, block shapes and talus cone characteristics. Based on these high-resolution terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data, the three axes of every block larger than 0.5 m in the referenced point cloud were measured. Block sizes and shapes are used to investigate them in the context of runout distances and to analyse the spatial distribution of blocks on the talus cone. We also investigate the influence of terrain parameters such as slope inclination, roughness and profile curvature (longitudinal profiles). Our study shows that the relation of block size within different lithological settings on runout length is complex, because we can neither confirm nor reject the theory of gravitational sorting. We also found that the block shape (axial ratio) does not have a simple influence on runout length, as it plays the role of a moderating parameter in two study sites (Gampenalm: GA, Dreitorspitze: DTS) while we could not confirm this for Piton de la Fournaise (PF) and Zwieselbach valley (ZBT). The derived roughness values show a clear difference between the four study sites. This also applies for the parameter of slope inclination and longitudinal profiles.

Kerstin Wegner et al.

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Kerstin Wegner et al.

Kerstin Wegner et al.


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Latest update: 26 Oct 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In mountainous regions rockfall is a common geomorphic process. We selected four study sites that feature different rock types. High-resolution terrestrial laser scanning data were acquired to measure the block size and block shape (axial ratio) of rockfall particles on the scree deposits. Laser scanning data were also used to characterize the morphology of these landforms. Our results show that hillslope and rock particle properties govern rock particle runout in a complex manner.
In mountainous regions rockfall is a common geomorphic process. We selected four study sites...