Rock Fall Engineering  book cover
1st Edition

Rock Fall Engineering

ISBN 9781138077621
Published March 31, 2017 by CRC Press
270 Pages 138 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Rock falls can be a public safety issue. This book provides comprehensive information on identification of these hazards, and design and construction of protection methods.

Rock Fall Engineering describes first, the theoretical background to rock fall behavior in terms of the impact and trajectory phases of rock falls, and second, how this information is applied to modeling of rock falls and the design of ditches, fences and sheds. The theory of rock fall behavior is verified by comparing the calculations with five carefully documented case studies.

The book covers four main topics as follows:

  • Describes causes of rock falls, including geology, climate and topography, and provides detailed documentation on rock fall impacts and trajectories at five sites with a wide variety of topographic and geologic features
  • Discusses theory of impact mechanics, and its application to velocity and energy changes during impacts and trajectories
  • Reviews methods of modeling rock fall events, and presents analyses for the five case studies
  • Examines rock fall protection in terms of selecting appropriate method(s) for site conditions, and design principles in which the objective is to absorb impact energy in an efficient manner

This book, which contains many worked examples, is of interest to practitioners and researchers working in the fields of geological engineering and natural hazards.

Duncan C. Wyllie is a principal with Wyllie & Norrish Rock Engineers in Vancouver, Canada, and a registered professional engineer in British Columbia. He has worked on rock fall hazard projects involving the design and construction protection measures since the 1970s. He is the author of Foundations on Rock, Second Edition, and Rock Slope Engineering, Fourth Edition, both published by CRC Press.

Table of Contents

Rock Falls – Causes And Consequences

Source Zones And Topography


Weather Effects On Rock Falls

Vegetation Effects On Rock Falls

Seismic Effects On Rock Falls

Human And Animal Influences On Rock Falls

Consequences Of Rock Falls

Documentation Of Rock Fall Events

Impacts On Rock Slopes

Impacts On Talus And Colluvium Slopes

Impacts On Asphalt

Impact With Concrete

Summary Of Case Study Results

Rock Fall Velocities And Trajectories

Trajectory Calculations

Rock Fall Velocities

Variation Of Trajectories With Restitution Angle

Angular Velocity

Field Observations Of Rock Fall Trajectories

Impact Mechanics

Principles Of Rigid Body Impact

Forces And Impulses Generated During Collinear Impact

Energy Changes During Impact

Coefficient Of Restitution

Friction And Angular Velocity Changes During Impact

Impact Behaviour For Rough, Rotating Body

Calculated Vs Actual Restitution Velocities

Coefficient Of Restitution

Newton’s Coefficient Of Restitution

Normal Coefficient Of Restitution

Tangential Coefficient Of Restitution And Friction

Energy Changes During Impacts And Trajectories

Impact Mechanics Theory And Kinetic Energy Changes

Rotational Energy Gains/Losses

Total Energy Losses

Energy Loss Diagrams

Loss Of Mass During Impact

Effect Of Trees On Energy Losses

Rock Fall Modelling

Spreadsheet Calculations

Terrain Model – Two Dimensional V Three Dimensional Analysis

Modelling Methods – Lumped Mass

Modelling Methods – Discrete Element Model (DEM)

Modelling Results Of Case Studies

Summary Of Rock Fall Simulation Results

Selection Of Protection Structures

Impact Energy – Deterministic And Probabilistic Design Values

Impact Energy – Service And Ultimate States Energies

Impact Energy – Probability Calculations

Determination Of Rock Fall Return Periods

Risk Management Of Rock Fall Hazards

Design Principles Of Rock Fall Protection Structures

Structure Location With Respect To Impact Points

Attenuation Of Rock Fall Energy In Protection Structures

Minimizing Forces In Rock Fall Protection Fences

Design Of Stiff, Attenuator Fences

Model Testing Of Protection Structures

Rock Fall Protection I – Barriers, Nets And Fences

Ditches And Barriers

MSE Embankments

Slide Detector Fences

Wire Mesh – Draped and Pinned

Nets and fences

Rock Fall Protection II - Rock Sheds

Types of rock sheds

Reinforced concrete sheds

Cantilevered structures

Sheds with sloping roofs

Wire mesh canopies


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Duncan C. Wyllie has a physics degree from the University of London and engineering degrees from the University the New South Wales, Australia and the University of California, Berkeley. He is a principal with Wyllie & Norrish Rock Engineers in Vancouver, Canada, and a registered professional engineer in British Columbia. Duncan Wyllie has lectured widely and has also authored or co-authored a number of textbooks on applied rock mechanics including Foundations on Rock (1st and 2nd editions in 1989 and 2001), and Rock Slope Engineering, Fourth Edition (2002), both published by Taylor & Francis.


"This book provides an invaluable perspective to engineers and geologists dealing with rock slope failures: not so much what causes the failures in the first instance, but what happens to the rock masses as they move, and therefore how to analyse them. I don’t think that there is a good, systematic, treatment elsewhere."
––Eddie Bromhead, retired from Kingston University, London, UK

"… a comprehensive book containing both the theory and practice of rock fall engineering. The author is experienced not only in these subjects but also in compiling books that present the material in a particularly easy-to-understand manner—which will be appreciated by all readers whether they be engineers, contractors, clients, researchers, teachers or students. In short, this book contains the necessary information to understand and design rock fall protection."
—Emeritus Professor John A. Hudson, Imperial College London