Rockfall is an important mechanism of erosion in high-relief regions. Rockfall events pose significant risk to human life and infrastructure in such areas. Although many factors have been proposed to influence rockfall, including frost weathering, daily and seasonal temperature changes, mechanisms that trigger rockfall remain enigmatic. Better understanding rockfall triggering can aid with hazard mitigation. We report new monitoring data from a potential rockfall source area in Zion National Park, where previous rockfall events have damaged roads, trails, and buildings and harmed visitors. In the Park, a precariously balanced pillar of resistant Springdale Sandstone, entirely separated from an adjacent cliff by a joint, is located upslope of several historic buildings. We used terrestrial LiDAR to construct a 3D-model of the pillar in the form of point cloud data. The 3D-model allows for analysis of the geometry of the pillar, calculation of the center of mass, and exploration of scenarios for failure of the pillar due to displacement of the center of mass. Our new analysis, together with displacement meters that have been placed for continuous monitoring of rock pillar movement, provide the basis for higher-resolution prediction of rockfall failure mode. Our approach may be exportable to other sites that are a high priority for rockfall mitigation.
University / Institution: Utah Tech University
Format: In Person
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Alex Tye
Location: Alumni House, SORENSON ROOM (9:40am)