Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

A New Assessment Method for Structural-Control Failure Mechanisms in Rock Slopes — Case Examples

School of Engineering, RMIT University, Victoria 3001, Australia

Special Issues: Mass Movement Processes, Hazards and Risks

Mass movement processes of bedrock slopes are highly dependent on the orientations of structural discontinuities within the rock mass. The associated hazards are typically defined by the orientation of structures and associated mechanisms of slope failure such as planar sliding, wedge sliding and toppling. A typical rock mass with multiple weak surfaces, or discontinuities, may form a consistent pattern over a range of spatial scale. The type of hazard resulting from the pattern of discontinuities will vary according to the angle and direction of the slope face. Assessing the risk of rock slope instability involves understanding of the complex three-dimensional structural features of the rock mass. Recent developments in stereographic methods show advantages are gained by representing wedges by linking great circles rather than showing the intersection line on the stereograph. We applied these methods to three rock slopes where active mass movement has occurred. The case studies include a large rock slide-debris avalanche in the Philippines, coastal cliffs in Australia and mining excavation slopes in Ghana, West Africa.
  Article Metrics


1. UNISDR (2009) UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction. United Nations, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Available from: http://www.unisdr.org/eng/terminology/UNISDR-terminology-2009-eng.pdf

2. Dai FC, Lee CF, Ngai YY. (2002) Landslide risk assessment and management: an overview. Eng Geol 64: 65-87.    

3. Li T, Wang S. (1992) Landslide Hazards and their Mitigation in China. Science Press, Bejing.

4. Lee EM, Jones DKC. (2004) Landslide Risk Assessment. Thomas Telford Publishing, ASCE Press, London.

5. Mamyrova R. (2012) Possible failure mechanisms of landslides in loess deposits. Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Braunschweig.

6. Arnhardt C. (2012) Monitoring of Surface Movements in Landslide Areas with a self-organizing Wireless Sensor Network (WSN). Notes on Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology 105, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen.

7. Hungr O, Fell R, Couture R, et al. (2005) Landslide Risk Management. Taylor & Francis Group, London.

8. Dianqing L, Chuangbing Z, Wenbo L, et al. (2009) A system reliability approach for evaluating stability of rock wedges with correlated failure modes. Comput geotech 36: 1298-1307.    

9. Goodman RE. (1980) Introduction to Rock Mechanics. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

10. Hoek E, Bray JW. (1981) Rock Slope Engineering: Revised 3rd ed. London: The Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

11. Wyllie DC, Mah CW. (2004) Rock slope engineering. Taylor & Francis.

12. Wang YJ, Yin JH, Chen Z, et al. (2004) Analysis of wedge stability using different methods. Rock Mech Rock Eng 37(2): 127-50.

13. Griffiths DV, Lane PA. (1999) Slope stability analysis by finite elements. Geotechnique 49(3): 387-403.

14. Eberhardt E, Stead D, Coggan JS. (2004) Numerical analysis of initiation and progressive failure in natural rock slopes — the 1991 Randa rockslide. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 41(1): 69-87.

15. Stead D, Wolter A. (2015) A critical review of rock slope failure mechanisms: The importance of structural geology. J Struct Geol 74:1-23.

16. Gigli G, Frodella W, Garfagnoli F, et al. (2014) 3-D geomechanical rock mass characterization for the evaluation of rockslide susceptibility scenarios. Landslides 11(1): 131-40.

17. Lucas JM. (1980) A general stereographic method for determining the possible mode of failure of any tetrahedral rock wedge. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 17(1): 57-61.

18. Priest SD. (1985) Hemispherical projection methods in rock mechanics. London: George Allan andUnwin.

19. Lisle RJ, Leyshon PR. (2004) Stereographic projection techniques for geologists and civil engineers. Cambridge University Press.

20. Hudson JA, Harrison JP. (1997) Engineering rock mechanics: An introduction to the principles. Elsevier.

21. Markland JT. (1972) A useful technique for estimating the stability of rock slopes when the rigid wedge sliding type of failure is expected. Imp Coll Sci Technol Rock Mech Res Rep 19: 1-10.

22. Smith JV. (2016) A method for assessing discontinuity poles for potential wedge sliding. Eng Geol 202: 55-61.

23. Guthrie RH, Evans SG, Catane SG, et al. (2009) The 17 February 2006 rock slide-debris avalanche at Guinsaugon Philippines: a synthesis. Bull Eng Geol Environ 68(2): 201-213.

24. Catane SG, Cabria HB, Zarco MAH, et al. (2008) The 17 February 2006 Guinsaugon rock slide-debris avalanche, Southern Leyte, Philippines: deposit characteristics and failure mechanism. Bull Eng Geol Environ 67(3): 305-320.

25. Palmstrom A. (2005) Measurements of and correlations between block size and rock quality designation (RQD). Tunn Undergr Space Technol 20: 362-377.    

26. Barton N. (2013) Shear strength criteria for rock, rock joints, rockfill and rock masses: Problems and some solutions. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 5: 249-261.    

27. Smith JV. (2015) A new approach to kinematic analysis of stress-induced structural slope instability. Eng Geol 187: 56-59.    

28. Leventhal AR, Kotze GP. (2008) Landslide susceptibility and hazard mapping in Australia for land-use planning — with reference to challenges in metropolitan suburbia. Eng Geol 102: 238-250.

29. MacGregor JP, Walker BF, Fell R, et al. (2007) Assessment of landslide likelihood in the Pittwater Local Government Area. Aust Geomech 42: 183-196.

30. Kotze GP. (2007) An Assessment of Rockfall Frequency for the Coastal Cliff-Lines of Pittwater Local Government Area, Sydney. Aust Geomech 42: 213-219.

31. Grenon M, Hadjigeorgiou J. (2010) Integrated structural stability analysis for preliminary open pit design. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 47(3): 450-60.

32. Junner NR, Hirst T, Service H. (1942) The Tarkwa Goldfield. Gold Coast Geological Survey Memoirs 6: 75.

33. Feybesse JL, Billa M, Guerrot C, et al. (2006) The paleoproterozoic Ghanaian province: geodynamic model and ore controls, including regional stress modeling. Precambrian Res 149(3): 149-196.

Copyright Info: © 2016, John V. Smith, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Article outline

Show full outline
Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved