Insights into the Seismically-Induced Rock-slope Failures in the Canterbury Region Using the Discrete Element Method

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


During the Canterbury Earthquake sequence in New Zealand, the greater Christ church area experienced several rock-slope failures which resulted in 5 casualties and significant loss of inhabitable property. As a part of the U.S. National Science Foundation-supported Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) project Seismically-induced rock-slope failures: mechanisms and prediction (NEESROCK), two sites in the Port Hills area were selected for dynamic modeling using the particulate discrete element code PFC. The discrete element model is able to simulate intact rock strength, explicitly defined discontinuities, the development of damage in the rock mass, and the transmission and reflection of dynamic waves. Results simulations show strong agreement with the observed cliff collapse behavior at the sites as measured in the field, however, the simulations do not capture the cliff top surface displacement.

Publication Title

6th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering

Open Access Status

Publicly Available