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Patterns of precursory rockfall prior to slope failure.

Rosser, N. J. and Lim, M. and Petley, D. N. and Dunning, S. A. and Allison, R. J. (2007) 'Patterns of precursory rockfall prior to slope failure.', Journal of geophysical research : earth surface., 112 (F4). F04014.


In this paper we examine data generated using high-resolution three-dimensional laser scanning monitoring of coastal rock cliffs. These data are used to identify spatial and temporal patterns in rockfall activity behavior prior to slope failure. Analysis of the data suggests that given sufficient measurement precision precursory behavior, here manifest as the rate of rockfall activity prior to failure, can be detected, measured, and monitored. Environmental conditions appear to have a diminishing influence on the occurrence of increasingly large slope failures. The monitoring data implies a time-dependent sequence in the occurrence of smaller rockfalls in the period leading to the largest failures recorded. This behavior is attributed to the mechanisms of strain accumulation in the rock mass resulting from brittle failure of the slope. The implication is that combining these data with models of failure mechanisms may allow failure time to be forecast from wide-area monitoring of precursory behavior. These findings have implications for the management of potentially unstable slopes, the understanding of slope failure mechanisms, and the generation of a new type of slope failure warning systems.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Precursors, Rockfalls, Laser scanning.
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Publisher statement:© 2007 American Geophysical Union. Rosser, N. J., Lim, M., Petley, D. N., Dunning, S. A., Allison, R. J. (2007) 'Patterns of precursory rockfall prior to slope failure', Journal of geophysical research: earth surface, 112, F04014, 10.1029/2006JF000642 (DOI). To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.
Date accepted:04 September 2007
Date deposited:12 August 2015
Date of first online publication:December 2007
Date first made open access:No date available

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