Research Activities: 2012

Highway Rockfall Measurements Using LIDAR

Status Complete                  View Final Report: PDF
Sequential Number R364
Identification Number 00043732
Matching Research Agency

MS&T Geological Engineering Program

Principal Investigator

Norbert Maerz
Associate Professor
1006 Kingshighway
Rolla MO
573 341-6714
573 341-4368

Student Involvement

One graduate student, assisted by one or more undergraduates

Project Objective To clarify the relationship between rainfall and rockfall. Previous research
has shown that there is a tentative relationship between rockfall and rainfall (Fig. 1, bottom of this document). But the relationship is not always present. Some rainfalls cause rockfall, some do not. This leads to speculation that is that some level of accumulated water in the ground is
also a precursor to rockfall. In this project we will install piezometers and continuously monitoring pressure transducers behind the rock face to determine the affect of water levels and pressures.
Project Abstract We plan to advance our measurement technologies of rockfall on 1 or more
local highway rock cuts using the LIDAR techniques we have developed. Previous research has shown a tentative relationship between rockfall and rainfall (Fig.1, bottom of this document). This time we plan on installing nested piezometers to measure groundwater pressures behind the rock face so that we can correlate not only rainfall and freeze-thaw cycles with the rock fall quantities, but also the cumulate buildup of water pressure behind the face. As a result we hope to be able to determine why some rainfalls cause rockfalls while others do not. Anticipated benefits include the advancement of a modeling capability, as well as some insight as to whether installing passive drainage in highway rock cuts would serve to decrease rockfall.

Relationship to other Research/Projects

This is a stand-alone project.


Transportation-Related Keywords

Rockfall, Highway, LIDAR

Technology Transfer Activities

Final Report, NUTC presentations/posters as requested, conference
proceeding, peer review journals.

Project Deliverables

Relationship between rainfall, water pressure, and rockfall

Anticipated Benefits

This will help with the development of a model for rockfall, incorporating
the affect of groundwater pressures behind the rock face. This will help in modeling rock raveling processes as shown in (Fig. 2, bottom of this document). In addition this will allow us to address the question of whether drainage might be useful to reduce rockfall. (It has traditionally been believed that in this type of broken rock faces, drainage was not necessary because it is believed that the cracks in the rock facilitate drainage.)


Project Start Date: 08/01/2013
Project End Date: