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Patterns of precursory rockfall prior to slope failure

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael Lim, Dr Stuart DunningORCiD



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by American Geophysical Union, 2007.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


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. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rosser N, Lim M, Petley D, Dunning S, Allison R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface

Year: 2007

Volume: 112

Issue: 4

Print publication date: 01/12/2007

Online publication date: 19/12/2007

Acceptance date: 04/09/2007

Date deposited: 06/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0148-0227

ISSN (electronic): 1934-8843

Publisher: American Geophysical Union


DOI: 10.1029/2006JF000642


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