Identification of Seismically-induced Rock-slope Failure Mechanisms using the Discrete Element Method

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Seismically-induced rock-slope failures represent a significant hazard in many
regions worldwide. Much of the current understanding of rock-slope behavior in earthquakes is based on observed historical failure modes. This study presents analysis of dynamic rock-slope failures using the particulate discrete element code PFC2D. The discrete element model is able to simulate intact rock strength, the development of damage in the rock mass, and the transmission and reflection of dynamic waves. Using this model, four primary failure mechan-
isms and the dynamic conditions that lead to their development are identified. These failure mechanisms are shown to result in three distinct failure modes corresponding to well-documented dynamic rock-slope failure modes observed in natural slopes. The connection between the dynamic failure mechanisms and the resulting modes of failure in the model provides insight into the ground motion characteristics, specifically frequency content and amplitude, that control the behavior of rock-slopes subjected to dynamic loading.

Publication Title

7th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering

Open Access Status

Publicly Available