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A Critical Review of Landslide Failure
Mechanisms

Article · December 2011

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Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23

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Journal of Structural Geology
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jsg

Review article

A critical review of rock slope failure mechanisms: The importance
of structural geology
Doug Stead a, Andrea Wolter b, *
a
Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr., Burnaby, BC, Canada
b
ETH Zurich, 5 Sonneggstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Geological structures such as folds, faults, and discontinuities play a critical role in the stability and
Received 31 August 2014 behaviour of both natural and engineered rock slopes. Although engineering geologists have long rec-
Received in revised form ognised the importance of structural geology in slopes, it remains a significant challenge to integrate
3 February 2015
structural geological mapping and theory into all stages of engineering projects. We emphasise the
Accepted 3 February 2015
Available online 14 February 2015
importance of structural geology to slope stability assessments, reviewing how structures control slope
failure mechanisms, how engineering geologists measure structures and include them in slope stability
analyses, and how numerical simulations of slopes incorporate geological structures and processes.
Keywords:
Rock slopes
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Stability
Failure mechanisms
Engineering geology
Structural control

1. Introduction 2. Effects of structural geology on rock slope stability

Our understanding of rock slope failure mechanisms has Structural features, such as folds, faults, and discontinuities,
increased considerably during the last decade in response to control rock mass (i.e., intact rock dissected by discontinuities)
continued development of urban populations in mountainous areas behaviour and contribute to either the stabilisation or destabilisa-
and to the challenges faced by engineers and geoscientists in the tion of rock slopes, depending on their orientations and the in-
exploitation of large open pit mines. Design in such large-scale rock tensity of associated tectonic damage. Glastonbury and Fell (2000)
masses necessitates consideration of structural geology from the demonstrated how the geometry and composition of a rock slope
micro-scale to the regional tectonic scale. In this paper, we critically and its structures determine the potential mechanism of a land-
review rock slope failure mechanisms with an emphasis on how slide, ranging from translational to complex multi-mechanism
knowledge of the structural geological environment influences all failure (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Stead et al. (2006) referred to the
stages in the slope characterisation or design process. We discuss importance of structure in determining the complexity of failure
the impacts of broad structural feature types on rock slopes, mechanisms. In this section, we review the importance of tectonic
highlighting important aspects using relevant case studies. We environment and damage and common brittle and ductile struc-
then summarise how structures are characterised in engineering tures related broadly to lithology, with examples drawn from the
geological projects, and finally review how structural geology is published rock slope literature. Table 1 summarises the structural
incorporated into numerical modelling of slopes, a useful technique and lithological features of the cited case studies and additional
in slope design. Our objective is to demonstrate the critical role of examples. Specific structural features are discussed in relation to
structural features and processes in controlling rock slope stability each lithological rock type; however, this does not imply they are
and failure type, style, and mechanism. exclusive to that lithology.

2.1. Tectonic environment and damage

* Corresponding author. The tectonic environment and history, or inheritance, of a given
E-mail addresses: dstead@sfu.ca (D. Stead), awolter@ethz.ch (A. Wolter). slope can determine if and how it fails; in situ stress conditions are

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2015.02.002
0191-8141/© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Fig. Thus. 1992) is a useful tool in assessing general in situ stress in situ stresses are typically not significant as compared to un. (2005) demonstrated the importance of in situ stress conditions in (2013) discussed the simulated stability of large open pits in rela- the formation of sackung-type slope failures (or Deep-Seated tion to seismic activity and showed that open pits are less sus- Gravitational Slope Deformations (DSGSDs)). 1. b) toppling. (2014) examined the role of microseismicity in producing action between geomorphological processes and in situ stress fatigue and damage in slopes. The exception is in areas of high hori. They demonstrated that these et al. Damjanac et al. Hoek conditions and slope geometry. concluding that microseismic . also damage and weaken slopes. and c) wedge sliding.2 D. Past and present seismicity is also important to slope stability. for example. where stresses can influence illustrated the production of slope amplification effects at the 1991 open pit performance and should be considered. They demonstrated numerically that Map (Zoback. certainties related to the geological model. zontal stress (compressional regime). d) Multi-planar translational failure (Palliser rockslide). Moore et al. and groundwater pressures within the rock masses Not only does each earthquake have the capability of triggering of a given pit slope. (2011). strength and deforma. Kinakin and Stead Randa instability in Switzerland due to seismicity. conditions. The World Stress the design of large open pits. demonstrating the complexity slope engineers may encounter. et al. Key rock failure modes considered in slope stability analysis: a) planar/translational sliding. Also investigating ceptible to seismically induced failure than natural slopes. (2009) discussed the role of in situ stresses in influencing factors influence slope failure type and behaviour. Stead. important to consider when assessing rock mass behaviour. gravitational stress usually dominates slope failures. tion properties. Ambrosi and Crosta (2011) emphasised the inter. A. Brian natural slopes. but the cumulative effect of regional seismicity may slope stability in open pits.

The Hoek-Brown envelope.. b) rough translational slide. Turtle . Wolter et al. Stead. Stead and Eberhardt (2013) Lake landslides in British Columbia. and damage due to alteration or weathering. h) irregular compound slide (modified after Glastonbury and Fell. A rock slope may be sub- compression and extension. Brideau et al. d) toe buckling translational slide. in rock slope instability with reference to several major landslides ation and propagation.b) applied this criterion to two Alpine valleys to investigate (2009) and Brideau (2010) discussed the importance of damage the effects of geomorphic and tectonic processes on fracture initi. linear Mohr-Coulomb envelope. Only Brown (1980). Recently. mechanical modelling incorporating brittle fracture. g) toppling failure. Diederichs (2003) developed a trilinear the rock slope stability community. Classification of failure modes related to structures. originally developed by Hoek and seismic damage. a) Large rock glide.. damage is spatially and temporally limited and may be episodic.. itational displacement-induced damage. A. much of this has been due to failure criterion. 2000). submitted). 2002 McAuley Creek. geomorphic damage. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 3 Fig. grav- slope analysis remains the simple. is also commonly applied to represent the strength recently has the importance of rock damage been fully realised in of rock masses. and 2007 Chehalis in situ stress and landscape evolution. and the South Peak. (2014a. Leith et al. Shipton and Cowie. e) biplanar compound slide. 2003. illustrating the importance of brittle fracture development of both rock slope mapping technologies and geo- through tensile failure and spalling at low confinement. D. A considerable amount of research in structural geology has Numerous constitutive failure criteria have been developed to been undertaken on damage associated with geological structures represent the deformation and strength of rock masses in (e. 2008). submitted. and determined stress paths to failure given including the 1965 Hope.g. 2. The most common criterion in rock jected to many forms of damage including tectonic damage. f) curved compound slide. c) planar translational slide. et al. it highlighted the relevance of a trilinear failure envelope to rock typically also only occurs in areas of pre-existing damage (Gischig slope damage.

Name Dominant type Volume (m3) Lithology Structural control Mechanisms Åknes. schistosity Sliding Apr. DS.000. Switzerland Rockslide (2-stage) 30. joint sets Mountain instability in Alberta. faults. folds Sliding >1960 e present Rockslide Biotite schist Rear release e tension crack Intact rock fracture Gouge Lateral release e faults Creep Beauregard. DS.000. Italy Rockslide 270. which act as planes of weakness along which slip or Ramsay (1967). folds. fault Wedge failure Jul.500. are important in realistic rock slope modelling.000 Gneiss 3e4 DS.000 Carbonates 9 DS. 1987 Quartzite Rear release e joint sets. fault present Vajont. we suggest that tectonically induced damage has a folded. (2011) surface coal mines.000 Lateral release e joint sets.000 Granodiorite Fault. amphibolite Lateral release e fault.000. 1959 Schist Rear release e ridge crest Wedge failure Dolostone Lateral release e gullies (Creep) Earthquake Mt Steele. such as Fleuty (1964) bedding planes.000 Syncline curves bedding as base Wedge failure Release e joint sets Randa.000.000 Greenstone Foliation. foliation Sliding 8700 yr ago Schist Release e foliation. syncline Sliding Prehistoric (2 events) 20.000.000. 3). Such failures are described in associated with simple translational failure (sliding of rock blocks . folds. and its structural complexity.000.000.000. fold Madison. and the interbed provided more in-depth discussions on the importance of rock shear strength. Importance of structures in sedimentary rock slopes the fold type and orientation. Montana Rockslide 20.000 Cherty carbonates 5 DS. The folding of sedimentary rock sequences has numerous fundamental influence on subsequent gravitational damage and is and varied effects on both natural and open pit slope stability interlinked with other forms of damage. Stead.000 Limestone Faults.000. Alberta Rock avalanche 30. Alberta Rockslide 8.000 Mica schist Sub-vertical DS Sliding 1951 e present Paragneiss Release e fractures. 1963 Clay Rear release e tension crack.000. A.000 Limestone 3 main DS Sliding Jul. France creep 60. Canada. We suggest that the Sedimentary rock masses typically behave anisotropically due to features of a conventional fold classification. 28. 1997). Italy DSGSD 663. 1991 3e9. This damage reduces the strength ence on both sliding and toppling movements.000. foliation Sliding 8500 yr ago Release e joint sets. rotation Oct. Norway DSGSD 35.000.5e12. Yukon Rock/ice avalanche 27e80. (2013) and Stead and Eberhardt (2013) cross joints. Knowledge of 2. Horizontal folds may be may lead to toppling slope failures. foliation.000 Marl Joints. The influence of tectonic activity may lead to a mass damage to slope stability. tilted. 2006 Release e joint sets Rockfall Flims. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Table 1 Summary of case studies presented in the text. folds.000.000 Diorite. Pedrazzini et al. foliation. 24. 13. fold. 29.000 Para/orthogneiss Fault. 1991 DSGSD Rear release e joint sets Toppling May 9.000.100. trough Toppling Downie. cleavage Sliding 1997 Debris flows Release e joint sets Flow Eiger. where repeated strata of arenaceous and demonstrated the varied rock mass damage associated with argillaceous rock masses dip into the slope (Benko. the presence of lateral release joints. British Columbia Rockslide n/a Phyllite 4 main DS. fault Creep 10.000 Ortho/paragneiss 3 main DS. 2.000 Micaschist 4 main DS. faults Toppling 1900 e present DSGSD schist Fold alters foliation orientation Sliding Diorite Rear release e fractures Creep Lateral release e fractures. Austria Ko rock avalanche 2. fault Wedge failure Lateral release e fault (E only) Creep Val Pola. joint sets Flow La Clapiere. shear zones. More of these slopes is controlled by the relative spacing of bedding and recently. Agliardi et al. Switzerland Rockslide 8. (Fig.2. Italy Rock avalanche 34. The orientation of the topographic surface or excavation face with respect to bedding is of major significance. British Columbia DSGSD 1.000. gabbro 2 main DS. 9. 4).000 Gneiss Foliation. faults Sliding Gneiss.000. Closely spaced bedding planes dipping into the slope influence rock slope stability (Fig.000 Gneiss Foliation. 2007 (5/95%) Diorite Release e joint sets Flow Gabbro Earthquake Palliser. faults Sliding 1965 Felsite Rear release e fault Flow Lateral release e joint sets. of rock masses and also provides the kinematics required for slope Originally horizontal beds are frequently uplifted. should be considered with respect to how they may occur. 17. Stability folding at Turtle Mountain and its effect on instability.4 D. British Columbia Rockslide 47. faults Toppling Frank. We emphasise the importance of reduction in the interbed shear strength with an important influ- tectonic damage on rock masses. bedding Sliding Sept. fault. faults € fels. foliation. 3 main DS Sliding Jul. Switzerland Rock collapse 2. anticline.000 Limestone 3 DS. Switzerland Rockslide 36. faults Sliding Apr.000 yr ago Gneiss rear release e ridge crest Sliding Quartzite Lateral release e joint sets East Gate. 1903 Clastics Rear release e fold hinge Toppling Lateral release e joint sets Wedge failure Progressive deformation Subsidence Goldau.000. and displacements. regional thrust. 18. faults Sliding. 1806 Conglomerate Release e joint sets Creep Hope. regional faults Composite sliding Aug.000. 6 DS.

This surface is affected associated with faults may similarly result in a reduction in rock not only by two generations of regional folds. Steeply plunging folds (Fig. engineering has been undertaken to date considering fault contact mushroom 1e2 (Ramsay. in the true dip direction) on one limb and toppling mechanisms on conjugate) may play a major role in releasing the blocks that slide the other fold limb.e. (2013) on the 1903 age. 5). shows the sliding scar and the drag folding. with translational failure mechanism and low-angle thrust faulting influencing the footwall instability (along bedding). Disconti. Whether the folding is of a parallel Frank Slide area in Alberta. Fig. kinematic rock slope failure modes with anticlinal folding has been ments in both planar and toppling modes (Brideau. drag mechanisms. they demonstrated the or concentric nature or similar/shear type will also influence ki. 3. and associated fractures to slope stability. depending on their orientation with respect to a along folded bedding surfaces e such release surfaces provide the given slope face (Fig. where a fault acted as a rear release plane for deformations within landslides and. Canada (Fig. in combination with natural a translational failure that occurred along drag-folded strata adja- release surfaces. Folded rock units with plunging hinge lines. The association of may result in complex translational and rotational slope displace. mensions. Open pit slope showing influence of structural geology. but also cludes not only damage but also fault linkage. who described the relationship be- 2008). ondary discontinuity set (S2) can produce different sliding failures. and on the base (basal plane) of failure blocks. Limited work in rock slope metre-to decametre-scale dome-and-basin to crescent-and. at the back (rear Roughness exerts a primary control on rock slope failures and release). 1967) or K (Thiessen and Means. Note the seepage at the fold hinge. damage zones morphology of the 1963 Vajont Slide in Italy. 9a shows a ference folds has been shown to influence the complexity of slope failure in a coal mine. for example. Another example of structural analysis associated with natural whereas tight and isoclinal folds may develop foliation and cleav. exists at all scales from primary and secondary small-scale asper- nuity sets associated with folding (i. have Fault planes often form sliding surfaces or release surfaces and likely sustained more deformation events than units with hori. 7 illustrates how three possible configurations of tained by the rock mass in the form of both fracturing and interbed the folded bedding (S0) or primary discontinuity set (S1) and sec- slip (Fig. transverse. Open folds may show the typical transverse. The bluntness and tightness of a fold will not only influ. 8). discussed by Badger (2002). 4ieiii). slope failures is that conducted by Humair et al. as well as damage intensity. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 5 Fig. mass quality influencing slope stability. Stead. stability and the range in complexity of the failure kinematics. 1980) relationships and their influence on rock slope instability. Yan. bedded units. 6. Relative slope It is necessary to consider the number of deformation episodes and fold orientations. cent to the fault. 6b. Folding in two directions and the presence of inter. producing complex. longitudinal and ities to large-scale undulations. a sign of increased damage. by concretions on the centimetre scale. 9b shows the fault exposed within the mine type movement. slope failures on the sides (lateral release). For example.. may explain commonly observed multiple block. Focus in rock engineering has been . shale smear. tween failure (planar/toppling) and the relative location of the rock ence the kinematics of slope failure but may also be indicative of slope and discontinuity sets commonly associated with folded. di- nematics and potential failure block geometry. D. 4ivevii) necessary kinematic freedom for slope failure. cataclasis. Fig. Fig. Massironi et al. 2005. 2013). the nature of fault gouge. longitu. Folding plays a vital role in fault seals. As discussed previously. that may induce slope instability. and conjugate discontinuities associated with folding. dinal. importance of the Turtle Mountain Anticline orientation. this in- type interference patterns (Fig. for example. Fig. affect slope and their combined effect on rock mass kinematics and strength. can be associated with the steepening of bedding (drag folding) zontal hinges. the degree of tectonic damage (reduced rock mass quality) sus. A. and providing what are referred to as geologic release surfaces for rock diagenetic effects.

Transverse. where multiple modes of failure may be combined. on the use of roughness measures such as the Joint Roughness Coefficient. Kinematic complexity is highest in the centre of the diagram. 1976. Cruden and Krahn (1978) described the presence converse discontinuities may be present in open folds. showing how damage increases with increasing fold tightness (after Fossen. is used in the following equation:    JCS t ¼ sn tan 4r þ JRC log10 sn where t is shear strength along the discontinuity plane. and structures noted. Tectonic effects on roughness. develop foliation and cleavage. The importance of sedimentary and tectonic structures on discontinuity surfaces has in the authors' opinions received insufficient attention. longitudinal. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Fig. 4r is the residual friction angle. Inset shows an example of the interaction between slopes and tectonic structure at Mount Kidd. 2010). such as slickensides and polishing. A. 1977). Modification of fold tightness classification. have been recog- nised as indicators of residual strength and the need for testing the shear strength in the appropriate direction with respect to surface Fig. as well as minor thrusts. Modification of Fleuty (1964) fold classification diagram to indicate slope stability and failure complexity. 5. sn is the normal stress on the plane. These roughness measures have been linked to empirical ap- proaches for assigning shear strength to joints. Canada. 4. which controlled the Frank Slide. Barton and Choubey. and JCS is the Joint Compressive Strength. . The JRC. whereas tight folds may of slickensides on folded bedding surfaces. JRC (Barton. Stead.6 D. for example. 2011.

and in some cases even induce dilation and the need for shearing proto-joints. in situ stress conditions. rock bridges and fractography in engi- through asperities during failure.3. focussing on joint initiation and propagation in bridges along potential sliding surfaces. and micro-scale concretions (d). As sheet joints generally par- discontinuity surface. hence affect global rock slope behaviour. or in a volume) is emphasised. as well as their effects on slope stability and determining in intact rock classified as either i) in-plane rock bridges on a situ stresses from fracture patterns. ES ¼ Erto Syncline trending E) to meso-scale interference patterns (b). A. concretions Hencher and Richards (1982). instability may involve undercutting by individual discontinuities (Tuckey. Such features may act as rock neering geology. persistence. or ii) out-of-plane rock bridges separating allel the topography. in an area. Stead. also may have a signifi. D. ranging from a) global (macro) scale synclines (MS ¼ Massalezza Syncline with hinge trending N. and degree to orientation and intensity (number of discontinuities along a of weathering or alteration. in the case of high-stress environments. For example. rock slopes the importance of discontinuity persistence in addition depending on the topography. 2012). the structures within the igneous rock that form the weak link and flute casts. (2013. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 7 Fig. control slope instability. it is not surprising that it is invariably structures must be taken into account as the strength of rock . parasitic folds (c). (2011). and ripple marks. or exfoliation. concretions. When considering structurally controlled stability of igneous Rock slope failures in igneous rock types are highly varied. Hencher et al. joints. Given the high strength of granites and line. the fracturing and development of 2. and igneous rock types is the effect of sheet. We suggest that sedimentary structures. One example of structural controls in cant influence on local or micro-to meso-scale roughness. Non-persistent similar igneous rock masses. 2014) discussed the importance of sheet joints. Rock bridges are zones of slopes. Importance of structures in igneous rock slopes breakout-type failures. Scales of roughness at the Vajont Slide. and CE ¼ Col delle Erghene Fault in a). 6. such as sole marks. excavation. failure by linkage with other structures and. and Ziegler or ripple marks may increase bedding plane frictional resistance et al. CT ¼ Col Tramontin Fault.

At Diavik Diamond Mines in Northwest Territories. A useful example is presented by Brideau et al. The influence of the metamorphic structures in to slope and orthogonal discontinuity set acts as rear release. subsequent numerical models (see below) requires considerable The Downie Slide in British Columbia. 2014). with mechanisms consequently involving planar sliding. S1 ¼ discontinuity set 1. an excellent discussion groundwater flow. Dominant folia- tions can be parallel. Examples of toppling-induced landslides in foliated meta- Vivas Becerra.. and other defor- mational features strongly influence stability. Gischig et al. 2002). blocks and is located in metamorphic mica schist. Geological structures form the failure surface and lateral release surfaces (Table 1). morphic rock types are provided in Newman (2013) and Clayton ognising the influence of structure on hydrogeology and pore water (2014). directs groundwater flow into the existing open pit (Tuckey. which is an important factor in the alteration of of the characterisation and modelling of this landslide is presented igneous rock masses as well as in pore pressure conditions in in Kalenchuk (2010).. and c) slope face through geophysical and borehole methods. They also influence scheme was developed to ensure stability. as described by Milmo et al. phyllites. 2008. affect rock mass weathering and strength. landslide is stepped. examining the influence of considerable distance from a major highway (Trans-Canada High- microstructure heterogeneity and micro-cracking on rock strength way) at the foot of the mountain slope. The different strengths of various minerals included in a mechanisms. 1. deformations. 10) (Eberhardt et al. Canada.. Like Åknes. this debris has . This rockslide has been the subject of extensive research over the last decade and is an excellent example of the influence of geological structure on rock slope failure.. it led to the gradual accu- (Hamdi et al. following discontinuities separated by intact rock bridges. is important to consider both primary and secondary slope failure ered. b) bedding dips into controlling the active movement of the rock slope has been shown slope and orthogonal discontinuity set acts as main sliding surface. as well as grain and lattice distortions and at the East Gate slope in Glacier National Park. Another example is the Åknes rock slope in Norway (Table 1) (Ganerød et al. the metamorphic facies level of a given rock mass can also have a significant influence on failure by altering rock mass strength. Although this failure was at Considerable research is ongoing. mulation of friable phyllitic failure debris. this slide comprises multiple slopes. 2012). An excellent discussion on toppling instability is pre- pressure at Diavik. importance of understanding three-dimensional geological Characterisation of fracture networks in igneous rocks for use in structure. sented in Goodman (2013). Consideration ations in the geological structure along the basal sliding surface. A major slope dewatering controlling failure location and behaviour. The toe of this landslide was submerged by a reser- Fault zones within igneous rock masses act as weak zones voir impounded by the Revelstoke Dam. a) Bedding dips parallel induced tsunami. Grøneng et al. and hence this landslide within otherwise high quality rock. 2012. cleavage. (2014).4. Complex folding of foliations in the dip and strike directions of a slope adds complexity to failure kinematics and observed displacements. Considerable work has been undertaken rec. This active slope instability is located in a highly deformed metamorphic re- gion comprising foliated schistose rock types on the western slope Fig. of the Storfjorden fjord and presents a major risk of landslide- S0 ¼ bedding. As discussed previously. and are thus significant in has been extensively investigated. Over time. A. 2009. it is important to consider different structural deformation phases and their in- fluence on foliations. should be given to step-path-type failures involving blocks moving Such movement of blocks is not uncommon and shows the on multiple fractures with possible intact brittle rock fracture.. Stead. is the largest care and often the combined use of field mapping. 2014). 2013. British Columbia. Willenberg et al. 7. When considering the influence of Although usually not a dominant factor in slope stability of metamorphic structures on hazards associated with rock slopes. catastrophic rock slope failures have occurred in metamorphic lithologies. Nicksiar and Martin. gneiss. geotechnical instru- intersects with fold hinge and bedding and orthogonal discontinuity set create a mentation and numerical modelling. Canada.5 billion m3. S2 ¼ discontinuity set 2. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 2. and schist. ations including crenulation cleavage. 2004. (2006) particular rock mass. these may be related to three-dimensional vari- the slope resulting in a higher factor of safety. Lo€w et al. The upper unstable rock slope is situated within phyllites induced fracture propagation and coalescence in high slopes may and involved pseudo-circular rock mass failure influenced by foli- ultimately form persistent structures along which sliding can occur. remote sensing prehistoric landslide in North America with an estimated volume of and borehole methods. oblique sliding/rotation. Fold and slope interaction creating slope instability (indicated by grey areas). micro-scale features should also be consid. 2011. or toppling.. Catastrophic failures have occurred in both high-grade metamorphic rocks such as gneisses and in highly foliated slates.8 D. a major fault zone dissects two kimberlite pipes and quartzite. and for example. Importance of structures in metamorphic rock slopes Numerous large. Foliations. oblique. it igneous rock masses. Stress. Blikra. 2012). Canada. An interesting aspect of this slide is the multiple bridges between discontinuities is high and therefore even small blocks involved in the movement with different rates and move- percentages of rock bridges will increase the overall strength of ment directions. An example of a major landslide in metamorphic gneiss terrain is the 1991 Randa rockslide sequence in Switzerland (Fig. or opposite to the sliding direction. The basal surface of the biplanar failure surface (modified from Badger. 2008..

Engineering geology methods used to characterise (1980). Measurement gested. Cappa et al. 8. aperture. Deep-seated gravitational displacements are an important Discontinuity surveys using line surveys or circular/rectangular variant of deforming rock slopes. stereographic-based kinematic analyses.. and intact rock strength are conservative or. intensity. Canada. more importantly. bedding planes. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 9 Fig. the over the past century (Vengeon et al. potential stability of a rock slope may be investigated using Lebourg et al. flat discrete structures. Limitations of this method can include insufficient sensing. which occur in multiple rock windows allow the definition of discontinuity sets. the measure- types and are particularly common in post-glacial metamorphic ment and assessment of discontinuity characteristics. DSGSD slopes have characteristic topographic persistence. The 1903 Frank Slide in Alberta. Stead. the definition of discontinuities is not. larger DSGSD complex (Fig. wedge and toppling (flexural and direct) instability modes acterise and analyse them. Hoek and Bray (1981). 2014) are now routinely used in kinematic analysis of rock slopes to assess potential simple Various techniques have been applied to rock slopes to char. tors controlling discontinuity shear strength. including translational sliding.. and slope toe bulging. Hencher (2013) trenches. on slope stability and then incorporate instability tude of stress. 12). ranging from field surveys to remote (Fig. mechanisms of displacement may be highly includes an estimation of their tensile strength. (1978). such as faults/shear zones and persistent jack. or hydraulic fracturing tests to provide direction and magni. remobilised as debris flows that have travelled downslope and of in situ stress conditions in slopes is nonetheless rare and remains caused significant blockages of the Trans-Canada Highway. and are summarised in a large number of publications including Richards et al. Recently. spacing. 2010). explicitly that not all discontinuities have the same effect on rock ures. unsafe stability assessments. for example. or stress relief kinematic analyses through field investigations is strongly sug- measurements to determine the direction of stress. recommended procedure is to consider first the influence of major Stress conditions may be measured on site using overcoring. 11) and has shown varied behaviour By considering specific slope (or design sector) orientations. degree of weathering. roughness. Com- structures puter codes such as DIPS (Rocscience. Priest 3. . the delineation of structural domains. D. including intact rock de. half-grabens. or using earthquake focal mechanism analysis. simple and straightforward. These methods have changed little since their introduction. A determined through observation and in situ or laboratory tests. as a wide variation in results are common. is part of a mass strength and slope stability. although the method of discontinuity surveying is active movement. The La Clapiere landslide in France.. and other fac- field observations of the rock mass. double-crested ridges. contoured discontinuity orientation data alone can produce either Lithology. Traditional rock slope investigations often commence with consideration of discontinuity persistence. This indicates variable. A. and discontinuity measurements and characterisation. circular and toppling fail. providing evidence of previous or stated that. The South Peak area is still unstable and subject to ongoing monitoring. Most kinematic analyses are restricted to simple planar. planar. mechanisms related to joint sets. and Wyllie and Mah (2004). a challenge. and features such as antiscarps. Over-reliance on scriptions. Ground-truthing of stereographic breakout and failure plane orientation observations. 1999. such as mountain terrains. 2004. Although beyond the scope of the current paper. infill and seepage. it is important to emphasise that DSGSDs are often located in He suggested a revised classification scheme of discontinuities that foliated rock slopes.

13 indicates two possible ge- etry. A. Stead. the recent versions of rock slope wedge analysis programs (e. The most multiple basal. 2014)) allow for limit equilibrium analysis of planes often results in a pentahedral or hexahedral wedge geom.g. failure mechanisms with limited consideration of rotational mo- tential failures will have more complex geometries involving ments or intact rock fracture (Hungr and Amann. Kinematic analysis of rock slopes. pentahedral wedge geometries. As an example. and dips parallel to general sliding direction indicated by the white arrow. toppling or tetrahedral (þ/ tension crack) geometries. which resulted in additional driving forces for failure and ultimately slope instability. Often po. 13b toppling. a) Example of drag folding-induced slope failure at a former UK coal mine. Fig. each with basal and lateral release planes and Fig. Note steepening of bedding adjacent to fault in b). Fault outcrops in the trees at the back of the failure. truncation of a tetrahedral wedge by basal surfaces such as bedding Swedge (Rocscience. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Fig. 2011)..10 D. with the exception of direct ometries. is also generally limited to consideration of translational with a rear tension crack. 9. rear and lateral release surfaces. The use of kinematic analysis methods in .

France (inset). an active part of a larger DSGSD complex (from Lebourg et al. A. re landslide. 11. 2011). Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 11 Fig. 2010). Foliation planes dip into the slope (Gischig et al. La Clapie . Fig.. 10. D.. Stead. The 1991 Randa rock slope failure in Switzerland.

digital photogrammetry. Stead. 2014). based methods provides the ability to map previously inacces- persistence. and hence potential sliding.12 D. 12. A major A rapidly developing number of remote sensing techniques. Lato et al. is the use of Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV) plat- thermal imaging are allowing. (2009). and suited to surface mine bench scale or highway road cuts than to Petley (2012)). Sturzenegger and Stead (2009). improved characterisation of rock slopes (Jaboyedoff discontinuity orientation. (2007). recent development. showing daylight envelope containing poles to planar failures. slope stability assessments are suggested to be in general more et al. increasingly used in engineering geological including laser scanning. airborne and satellite- large-scale landslides or open pit mine slopes unless high. and even Fig. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Fig. Kinematic analysis conducted in the stereographic software DIPS (Rocscience. often with sub-centimetre accuracy. Friction cone delimits joints with dip greater than assumed friction angle. spacing. Remote discontinuity surveys allow the measurement of field mapping. Two pentahedral wedge geometries in Swedge (Rocscience. in combination with conventional forms. A. sible rock slope areas. 2014). Using such ground-based. . discrete structures control instability. persistence. InSAR and mapping. 13.

. for example Haneberg. Clayton (2014) showed the use of borehole Time- ation and propagation. If possible. Finally. fold well as inclinometer and televiewer data were all used in the hinge orientations and interference patterns may be quantitatively characterisation of subsurface structures at the Randa slope (Lo €w assessed using remote sensing. A. For data sets. borehole may include both borehole logging and geophysical surveys. Geological Strength Index (GSI) chart. 2007. field validation of remote ob. subsurface studies. geophysical borehole logging. with implications for failure initi.. 14.. Stead. as also be characterised. 2012). 2011. Domain Reflectometry (TDR) in characterising the location of servations is advised. such as core logs. . D. 1995). Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 13 discontinuity roughness (see. As demonstrated by Wolter et al. Here. measurements of water pressure and Fig. where conducted. and seismic refraction surveys. 2010). Blikra. Tatone example. (2014). 1D borehole radar reflec- and Grasselli. and the Åknes slope (Grøneng et al. et al. 2012). landslide failure surfaces. ductile structural features such as folds may tion surveys. based on block size and joint condition (from Hoek et al. contribute greatly One of the most extensively and intensively monitored sites is to the improved spatial characterisation of rock slope masses. 3D surface georadar.

2000). mechanical properties and groundwater.2. A. and as such are unable to fully capture wide range of support may be applied in the software. discontinuities.1. they consider only forces or moments disturbance may be included using a pseudo-static approach and a and not slope displacements. These may assuming a continuum approach. Analyses have in the past force and moment equilibrium and uses iterative methods of slices been predominantly deterministic. faults) failures. three-dimensional limit equilibrium methods exist. slope the factor of safety for both moment and force equilibrium and use geometry. com. . 1992. and shear zones. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 flow and penetration velocity. determines the critical circular simple tetrahedral wedge geometries. ditions and rock mass quality. 2014). lead to single-plane or multi-plane (e. influence of geological structure often determines the location of the critical sliding surface which may be: 4. 2005). Facilities exist to risk and consequence of slope instability and both model and import groundwater conditions varying from simple water tables to parameter uncertainty. non-circular block geometries. GSI chart for heterogeneous rock masses such as flysch (from Marinos and Hoek. thereby vide useful preliminary analysis and may be adequate for simple providing the ability to consider transient slope instability.  A combination of failure along discrete structures and failure stabilities in remote mountainous areas such data are rare and through intact rock. Unfortunately. and the identification of large  Through the rock mass and controlled by anisotropy within the fractures and sliding surfaces underground. Continuum analysis of rock slope failure  Along major discrete structures. 1970. but have seen less allow analyses of more complex slope failure mechanisms. which is in reality have been developed to allow three-dimensional limit equilibrium only valid for extremely weak rock masses or soil-like materials.g. for many natural rock slope in. Modifications have also allowed the inclusion of rock bridges 4. 15. where the rock mass is treated as Fig. in its simplest form. combining bedding and locity profiles. such as bedding planes (usually Numerical modelling of rock slopes is often undertaken adversely dipping or folded). Limit equilibrium analysis by the use of apparent cohesion and friction values to represent percentage of intact rock that must be sheared through for failure to The simplest and most common form of slope analysis involves occur (Jennings. providing one factor of safety to calculate the factor of safety (FS ¼ resisting forces (or moments)/ for the slope. ment surface observations and measurements of structures such as foliation). have allowed the determination of hydrologic con. Baczynski. Probabilistic analyses posite or block searching algorithms have been developed that have become increasingly common. resistivity profiles. Structural geology and the numerical modelling of rock functions in limit equilibrium analyses to allow for directional slopes weakness created by pre-existing geological structure (Rocscience. Although limit equilibrium methods pro- coupled limit equilibrium-groundwater numerical models. These data comple. frequent use in the analysis of landslides. The most accurate methods determine alyses to determine the influence of geological structure. Recent developments have seen an increasing use of anisotropic 4. cleavage. often prohibitively expensive to obtain. 2000).14 D. jointing. Elegant methods of columns slip surface for a slope (lowest factor of safety). and P-wave ve. Both two. To analyses of more complex failure surfaces. Seismic slope failure mechanisms. however Duncan and Wright. and have often been accompanied by sensitivity an- driving forces (or moments)).and different assumptions for the interslice forces (Bromhead. The methods incorporate a searching three-dimensional methods are mostly applied in the analysis of algorithm that. with the need to consider the search for critical. rock mass due to discontinuity sets (bedding. Stead. In practice the complex slope failure mechanisms. faults.

1998). non-persistent (centre). and Voronoi (right) (modified after Hammah et al. Stead. Norway. A.. 2009). 16. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 15 Fig. . D.rocscience..com). a) Phase2 simulations of a 60-m-high slope using different joint networks e continuous (left). c) FLAC2D model of the Frank Slide showing deformation along a presumed failure surface (after Benko and Stead. d) FLAC3D model geometry of the Åknes. http://www. 2010). b) RS3 model of an open pit (from Rocscience website. rock slope instability (after Grøneng et al. Examples of continuum analysis.

These models are combined in a geotechnical model of the slope or open pit (Read and Stacey. blocks are treated as deformable they can be assigned a wide range 1998). c) UDEC model of the Frank Slide. 2014). If the Kalenchuk. 2000) (Fig. the use of the GSI in deriving the rock mass strength is not recom- mended as the shear strength of the structures. The most common continuum numerical modelling approaches for rock slope analysis are the finite element and the finite differ- ence methods. Modelling of rock slopes criterion allows simulation of varied stress-strain behaviour from using Distinct Element methods can thus simulate movement along simple elastic to elasto-plastic or time-dependent creep. in 2D and 3D. (1995) and modified by Cai et al. such a domain approach is often extended to consider hydrogeological and geotechnical domains. discrete fracture networks and Voronoi tessellation) and the modelling of structurally controlled rock slope failures. of constitutive behaviour including elastic. Canada (after Benko and Stead. Both finite element and finite difference methods have the ability to incorporate discrete structures such as faults but these methods are not optimal in the analysis of jointed media. not the rock mass. including: Strength Index (GSI) ranging from 0 to 100 (Fig. 2014). landslide. In open pit mining geomechanics. . Phase2 and RS3 (Rocscience. shear and ticated software exists. bedding. planar and biplanar modes. and time-dependent options. Stead. a) UDEC model of the Vajont Slide. and is currently used as the main method for deriving equivalent media properties of a rock mass suitable for incorporation into 2D and 3D continuum geomechanical models. Discontinuity spacing (block size) and surface condition are considered to derive the GSI value and. indirectly. the rock mass strength. such as toppling. 2009). 4. the approach adopted is to consider the structural geological model of the slope. the hydrogeological model. b) 3DEC shear and normal stiffnesses (controlling displacement along model of the Beauregard. The rock mass is usually meshed using el. elasto-plastic. dis- continuum methods are used to simulate slope deformation. (2013). A constitutive softening.3. 14) was introduced by Hoek et al. 2014). 2010). 15). we will focus on the Distinct Element Method. The intact rock blocks can be rigid or deformable. Note that the sliding surface follows folded bedding. considerable challenges remain in simu- tension. 16 shows examples of the use of 2D and 3D continuum codes in the modelling of landslides and rock slopes. Stead and Coggan (2012) provide a more detailed description of these methods. In such slopes. 17. A. Italy. as well as the translation and strength of the modelled rock mass comprises components of rotation of joint-bounded blocks. Discontinuum analyses To accurately represent jointed media and large displacements of rock slopes. both of these input criteria are controlled by the struc- tural geology of an area. (2004) and Hoek et al. Fig. A Geological deformation. A rock slope is discretized into joint-bounded blocks. showing discrete movement blocks (after joints). The most popular codes for each approach are.g. Italy (after Wolter. and the rock mass model. the use of discontinuum simulations is most appropriate. and FLAC2D and FLAC3D (Itasca. Where discrete major structures control rock slope instability. the joints are assigned a shear strength constitutive criterion and Fig. The strength is hence inherently scale-dependent and it is lating the influence of geological structures on rock slope here that the influence of structure is paramount. respectively.16 D. An adequate structural model of the pit slope is hence an essential prerequisite for optimal slope design. here. Recent developments in the finite element code Phase2 have allowed incorporation of jointed media (e. A modification in the GSI approach was proposed for tectonically disturbed flysch rock masses (Marinos and Hoek. strain- ements of triangular or quadrilateral shape in 2D. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 an equivalent medium. The most commonly used in rock engineering are the Distinct Element and Discontinuous Deformation Analysis methods. It is essential always to consider a slope rock mass using a structural geology domain approach recognizing characteristic structures within an area. Although sophis- intact rock and discontinuity strength in compression. which is the most commonly used for modelling rock slopes. Examples of discontinuum analysis. A range of discontinuum numerical modelling methods exist and are usually grouped under “Discrete Element Methods”. The major structures. such as faults. both again often a function of the tectonic history and structural geology. will control the kinematics of slope failure.

masses kinematics of movement  Possible to incorporate DFNs. A comparable 3D simplest to the most complex. but  May need to edit DFNs to allow adds complexity solution  Triangular elements allow  Limited experience in use of Trigon increased kinematic freedom modelling  Possible to incorporate influence of  Long model run times for large- groundwater pressure in UDEC scale problems especially for 3D Voronoi and Trigon simulation of problems which may not be slopes (Vivas Becerra.  Ability to include DFNs and  Limited use in 3D models to date groundwater pressures  SRM testing possible SRM approach (PFC3D/DFN/FLAC3D)  Derivation of large scale rock mass  SRM testing programs required for Successful use predominantly for properties through simulated important lithological units within major mine slopes to date. on observed structures. through-going structures e an (Itasca.. from the interpretation of best-fit failure geometry. 17b shows a similar and treated as separate domains in analysis. can be recognised in the literature: model of the Mitchell Creek landslide in British Columbia has Table 2 Summary of numerical modelling approaches used to simulate brittle fracture. 2014) in modelling the Vajont landslide. It is important to constrain the failure surface based must be considered. the engineer must angle seat and high-angle rear forming a chair-shaped fail- consider rock bridges. and the lateral and rear release are important for the specific problem at hand. around triangular elements pressure dissipation in slopes  Possible to include influence of varies in different FDEM models groundwater table (Styles. D. ure surface. Consideration of the dominant discrete failure surfaces only. such as joints.  Possible to fracture across or  Simulation of groundwater 2006). triaxial and tensile tests  Fracture does not occur in final using PFC3D þ DFN (SRM) continuum model of rock slope  Properties used for subsequent modelling in continuum 3D models (FLAC3D þ directional strain softening) of large-scale (800 m high) rock slopes Lattice Spring Models (SlopeModel)  Models brittle fracture through  Limited to small-scale displace. 2009)  DFNs can be incorporated within rock slope models  Directional weakness may be simulated Distinct Element þ Voronoi/Trigon  Simulates intact rock fracture  Careful calibration required of Used successfully in modelling of (UDEC 2D. Stead et al. 17a shows an example application of the 2D UDEC code routinely assume persistent. 2014). 3DEC 3D) associated with slope failure. This model involved consideration of the neering judgement must be used to determine which structures primary basal failure surface. Scale effects surfaces. Such an analysis allows identification of the  Rock masses are typically heterogeneous. and folds should be noted tional Prandtl prism or yield zone. (Kalenchuk. Most models Fig. Stead. 2014) feasible in some cases Particle Flow Codes (PFC2D/PFC3D)  Brittle fracture of slopes can be  Require careful calibration Used to successfully model footwall modelled through breaking of  Large rock slope models possible in failures in mines.  Possible to undertake coupled models may limit size of problem hydro-mechanical-brittle fracture modelling of a rock slope . Properties such as interaction mechanisms between the upper driving block strength and discontinuity intensity vary temporally and and the lower passive block. Fig. Further research required bedded/through-going jointed rock  Polygon size may influence on calibration of model properties. both along strike i.  The level of detail to include is challenging to determine. damage zones. The discrete over-simplification in practice. and dip is usually difficult to quantify in the field. 2004. A. 2010). with the formation of a transi- spatially. approach in the 3D Distinct Element code 3DEC (Itasca.. Shear zones.  Allows simulation of large-scale  Typical model properties provided Successfully used in modelling of rock slopes in 3D but calibration required large open pit slopes and high natural  Ability to import DFNs  Runtime for hydro-mechanical landslides. applied to the Beauregard landslide in Italy Although it is impossible to model every discontinuity. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 17  The persistence of structures. brittle fracture testing of large scale rock slopes uniaxial. this was possible at Beauregard us- ing available borehole and surface mapping data as well as Four levels of discontinuum modelling of rock slopes. Approach Advantages Limitations Comments Finite-Discrete Element Hybrid (Elfen/  Simulates intact rock fracture in  Slope modelling mainly confined to Successfully used in modelling both YGEO) rock slopes from continuum to 2D to-date with future develop. natural and engineering rock slopes discontinuum ment in 3D pending (Eberhardt et al. New code with significant potential in breaking of springs between nodes ments compared to UDEC/3DEC future rock slope modelling. engi. can Voronoi polygon/Trigon contact natural rock slopes and engineered incorporate polygons within properties rock slopes. surface in this analysis follows folded bedding with a low-  Where non-persistent structures exist. large rock slopes bonds between particles in 2D or 2D but computationally expensive and subsequent runout and large spheres in 3D in 3D open pits slope.

of both major structures (faults and folds) and discontinuity iii. 17c (Benko and Stead. Inclusion of rock bridges along discontinuity surfaces. servative assumption. Rock sets (bedding and joint sets). dilation. and strength properties (e. where red lines indicate tensile failure. simulating non-persistence or rock bridges. 16a shows the different as. which assigns percentages of rock bridge strength to the cohesion. in UDEC. friction angle. It is also overall strength of the discontinuity (for example. A.g. An analysis assuming of failure surface geometry and the influence of tectonics on continuous through-going structures is usually a very con- rock mass strength and failure mechanism. spacing. it is possible to define a standard Network (DFN). DFNs are increasingly being used in all fields deviation for input values such as dip.. 2014)... Joint sets within Distinct bridges are incorporated into models by using continuous Element models are simulated by defining their dip (and dip joints but specifying a persistence factor between 0 and 1. Brideau et al. It is essential in any 3D simulation of the Frank Slide in Fig. Stead. 2003). and dilation angle.18 D. dip direction. Variants of this approach are orthogonal joints. and a major fold. Examples of brittle fracture and damage modelling. In iv. Italy. a) Progressive development of failure due to excavation of an open pit in an FDEM simulation (after Vyazmensky et al. geomechanical modelling that engineers work closely with 1998). 2009). 18. including underground and surface rock stiffness. friction angle. this figure shows the incorporation of two joint sets. continuously folded bedding surfaces can be detailed borehole investigations and engineering geological/ simulated through the use of arc commands as seen in the geomorphological surface mapping. tensile strength). and green lines indicate shear failure (after Wolter. used in many model types whereby the strength of the tional models is that discontinuities are persistent discontinuity is adjusted to include a component of strength. Incorporation of the full geological structure e that is. c) Failure of a slope with 70% fracture persistence in PFC2D (after Wang et al. cohesion. recently been constructed by Clayton (2014) utilizing Complex. direction if in 3D). sumptions between continuous and discontinuous joints). d) Combination of particle flow code and DFN in an open pit slope (after Lorig et al. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 Fig. as discontinuities are often separated ii. throughout the model (Fig. structural geologists in order to optimise the interpretation discrete structures. mechanics. Franz necessary in bedded materials to define an offset between (2009). b) Brittle fracture within a Trigon model of the 1963 Vajont Slide. inclusion by rock bridges. enhanced geothermal . (2012)). The overriding assumption in conven. 2010). petroleum geomechanics. Explicit incorporation of rock bridges using a Discrete Fracture order to address variability. joint of rock engineering.

of non-persistent discontinuities and rock bridges. and joint fundamentals of joint genesis in rock engineering in- termination. In continuum codes. and subject has been extensively researched. Move4D (Midland Valley. rock ture and damage may be simulated explicitly using a variety of bridges and termination modes. and groundwater flow in fractured rock. joint orientation. Modelling rock damage and brittle fracture geomechanical models. and FracSim3D (Xu (2013) and Hencher and Richards (2014) described key and Dowd. (2007) and Alghalandis et al. brittle frac- geologists to characterise discontinuity persistence. 2014). Hencher 2012). the mesh is able to simulate fragmentation from tempts in characterising persistence and rock bridges in large an intact continuum to a discontinuum comprising rock fragments. Work such as the Leeds eration can be undertaken using numerous commercial and Rock Fracture Experiment on fracture connectivity has public domain codes such as Fracman (Golder Associates. connectivity of fracture networks. DFN gen. insufficient atten. Once again it is extremely important to consider the structural geology and tectonic history of an area to ensure realistic 4. Discrete fracture networks are then imported vestigations with associated implications for geomechanical into geomechanical models to allow explicit representation modelling. We emphasise that further research is considering the change in number of yielded elements compared to required in rock engineering in collaboration with structural the total number of elements. 19. It is also possible to incorporate non- . The principal inputs required from struc. 2013). Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 19 Fig. including the formed by new fracturing. the rock slope is dis- tion has been given to the structural geological aspects. cretized into finite elements and. enabling the full failure process to be captured. Although this rating a Voronoi or Trigon mesh. 2014. Particle Flow Codes (PFC). open pit rock slopes. The 1963 Vajont Slide. The simulation (2014) provided important contributions to understanding incorporates continuous remeshing of fragments as they are the fundamental properties of DFNs. It is possible to incorporate major observed discontinuities into a model and combine these Recent developments in geomechanical codes have provided an with a statistically generated DFN. lattice spring codes. Characterising the percent. used prior to the simulation of Distinct Element models damage within a rock slope may be characterised implicitly by incorporating DFNs. In discontinuum codes. Dowd et al. by incorporating a fracture me- Tuckey (2012) and Tuckey et al. joint intensity. Distinct Element codes (DEM) incorpo- importance in future rock engineering design. D. Their work emphasised the need to consider the trace length. Continuum and discontinuum codes are be taken to ensure that engineering geological judgement is able to simulate damage in different ways. systems. important relevance to rock slopes and landslides. ground-truthing DFN impetus for consideration of the roles of brittle fracture and dam- models is important wherever feasible and care must always age in large rock slopes. A.4. simulated using an imported DEM and assumed sliding surface in the new lattice-spring code Slope Model (after Wolter. In FDEM approaches. 2010). research in the constraint of fracture geometry in rock tural mapping for DFN generation are statistical data on joint masses. approaches (Table 2). Stead.. Italy. chanics criterion. Havaej et al. Methods include hybrid Finite-Discrete age of rock bridges is an important challenge of major Element codes (FDEM). (2013) described recent at.

pre-existing joints. Slope Model variant of the Voronoi code.. a recent devel- cording to predefined shear and tensile strength properties. continuum 3D codes are used to model develop when the induced stresses cause failure of contacts ac. A 3D Voronoi/Trigon method has been devel. show the use of damage ellipsoids brittle fracture.20 D. In this approach the particles and bonds within a PFC where the rock slope is discretized into triangular. and. In this method. 2008). (2014). application requires careful consideration of structural geology and The third method of simulating brittle fracture in rock slopes is tectonics: through the use of PFC either in 2D or 3D. and (Sainsbury et al. A. A DFN can be incorporated within the Voronoi or and Flinn plots in the analysis of brittle fracture modelling data Trigon meshes to allow simulation of rock bridge failure between from large open pits and landslides. Summary of the influence of structure on rock slope stability and failure mechanisms.. large open pit slopes up to 1 km in height. 18a shows an example of an open pit slope where frac. 18b shows the use of Trigon in the 2D UDEC code to simulate Havaej et al. their successful rock slopes. Finally. 2014). stress-induced  Highly tectonized weak rock mass may be amenable to contin- failure of the particle bonds simulates the development of cracks uum modelling. and large open pit slopes incorporating DFNs. Fig. (Itasca. Fig. 20. whereas major discrete faults may dictate the Fig. A opment has been the lattice spring code approach. cracks based on these strengths. In the first method. but has yet to be used for detailed rock slope analyses. for example. Slide in Italy (Fig. A wide range of sophisticated geomechanical models exist for oped by Gao and Stead (2014) to allow simulation of 3D fracture in both 2D and 3D modelling of rock slopes. Wang et al. PFC. 19). while Lorig et al. 3D SRM models are used to lattice spring methods. 18d). Trigon. The method has been used blocks. not polygonal. The rock slope is simu- lated using particles that are bonded together. 2010). turing of rock bridges within a DFN are induced due to stresses (2009) show the use of PFC with an incorporated DFN to model related to underground mining (Vyazmensky et al. intact rock properties define the strength of jointed rock masses up to 100 m in size. Wolter / Journal of Structural Geology 74 (2015) 1e23 persistent joints into the rock slope either as step-path features or in the rock. are given to the sides of the polygonal Voronoi mesh. Trigon. 18c). such as the Vajont the intact rock properties on the Trigon elements are exceeded. large rock slopes (Fig. however. code are replaced by nodes and springs. . 2014) to model footwall slopes (Fig. (2003) describe the successful use of PFC DFNs. Stead. has recently been introduced (Itasca. as before. The combination of a PFC with an Distinct Element codes may be used to model brittle fracture in incorporated DFN is referred to as a synthetic rock mass (SRM) both 2D and 3D using four methods e Voronoi. new stress-induced cracks are developed when both in the simulation of natural rock slopes.

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