Slope-Scale Rockfall Susceptibility Modeling as a 3D Computer Vision Problem

Ioannis Farmakis*, D. Jean Hutchinson, Nicholas Vlachopoulos, Matthew Westoby, Michael Lim

*Corresponding author for this work

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Rockfall constitutes a major threat to the safety and sustainability of transport corridors bordered by rocky cliffs. This research introduces a new approach to rockfall susceptibility modeling for the identification of potential rockfall source zones. This is achieved by developing a data-driven model to assess the local slope morphological attributes with respect to the rock slope evolution processes. The ability to address “where” a rockfall is more likely to occur via the analysis of historical event inventories with respect to terrain attributes and to define the probability of a given area producing a rockfall is a critical advance toward effective transport corridor management. The availability of high-quality digital volumetric change detection products permits new developments in rockfall assessment and prediction. We explore the potential of simulating the conceptualization of slope-scale rockfall susceptibility modeling using computer power and artificial intelligence (AI). We employ advanced 3D computer vision algorithms for analyzing point clouds to interpret high-resolution digital observations capturing the rock slope evolution via long-term, LiDAR-based 3D differencing. The approach has been developed and tested on data from three rock slopes: two in Canada and one in the UK. The results indicate clear potential for AI advances to develop local susceptibility indicators from local geometry and learning from recent rockfall activity. The resultant models produce slope-wide rockfall susceptibility maps in high resolution, producing up to 75% agreement with validated occurrences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2712
Number of pages19
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023

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