Sturzenegger, M, Willms, D, Pate, K & Johnston, B 2013, 'Experience using terrestrial remote sensing techniques for rock slope performance assessment', in PM Dight (ed.), Proceedings of the 2013 International Symposium on Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 775-782, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1308_52_Sturzenegger
This paper reports on projects, which integrate the advantages of terrestrial remote sensing techniques to analyse the performance of rock slopes. The first project is concerned with a bench performance assessment of an inactive open pit mine in British Columbia, Canada; this assessment is part of the design work for the proposed pit expansion. The second project involves characterisation of the rock abutments of an operational concrete hydroelectric dam, in the Washington State, USA.
The bench scale stability of mine slopes in blocky to moderately fractured rock mass is primarily determined by structurally-controlled failure mechanisms such as planar, wedge and toppling failure. Conventional design involves the analysis of adversely-oriented discontinuities, which have the potential to generate unstable blocks. These kinematic analyses are used to develop design parameters, including bench face angle, bench width and inter-ramp angle. Bench performance assessment aids in both bench and inter-ramp design, based on detailed quantification of the previously achieved bench geometry.
The first case study is from geotechnical investigation work at Bell Pit, near Granisle, BC. The bench performance assessment in this case utilises terrestrial digital photogrammetry to quantify the achieved bench geometry of the pit walls. The advantages of using remote sensing data as opposed to measurements made at the outcrop include: a more detailed and arguably more accurate dataset, reduction of issues related to access, and reduction of safety concerns due to rock falls. Similar advantages are advertised in the literature concerning remote sensing-based discontinuity characterisation, which is now commonly used in the industry. In this case study, a geometric correction is applied to the measured back-break and effective bench face angle in order to enhance measurement accuracy. A discussion concerning the validity of the assessment is provided.
The second case study involves discontinuity characterisation of the natural rock slope abutments of the Boundary Dam, a concrete hydro-electric dam located along the Pend Oreille River. These abutments show evidence of past rock block failures where blocks failed along discontinuities. Structural mapping using terrestrial remote sensing techniques allows both the characterisation of these discontinuities and the description of past failure mechanisms, which may highlight potential future failure modes. The procedure is carried out along the Pend Oreille River canyon using a combination of terrestrial and vessel-mounted LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) point clouds.
Adam Technology (2012a) 3DM CalibCam version 2.4.3,
Adam Technology (2012b) 3DM Analyst version 2.4.3,
Dings, M.G. and Whitebread, D.H. (1965) Geology and ore deposits of the Metaline zinc-lead, District Pend Oreille County, Washington, US Department of the Interior, Geological Survey Professional Paper 489.
Dirom, G.E., Dittrick, M.P., McArthur, D.R., Ogryzlo, P.L., Pardoe, A.J. and Stothart, P.G. (1995) Bell and Granisle porphyry copper-gold mines, Babine region, west-central British Columbia, Porphyry Deposits of the Western Cordillera of North America, CCIM Special Vol. 46.
Haneberg Geoscience (2010) Boundary dam forebay 3-D rock slope modeling, discontinuity mapping, and kinematic rock slope stability analysis, Draft report for Seattle City Light.
Innovmetric Software Inc. (2012) IMSurvey version 12.0.4,
Jacobs Associates (2010) Boundary transformer banks rock fall mitigation project, Project Memorandum submitted to Seattle City Light.
Lee, S.G. (2011) Characterizing highwall slopes at the Line Creek Mine, British Columbia, using terrestrial photogrammetry, Master Thesis, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, 191 p.
MacIntyre, D.G. (2001) Geological Compilation Map Babine Porphyry Copper District Central British Columbia, Geological Survey Branch Open File 2001–3, Geological Survey Branch British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines.
Mathis, J.I. (2007) Pit slope design and structural analysis at the Jericho Diamond Mine utilising digital photogrammetric mapping, in Proceedings International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering (Slope07), Y. Potvin (ed), 12‒14 September 2007, Perth, Australia, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 93–104.
Mathis, J.I. (2011) Photogrammetry discontinuity mapping as applied to structural interpretation and drillhole planning at Barrick’s Williams Pit, in Proceedings International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering (Slope Stability 2011), 18–21 September 2011, Vancouver, Canada, Canadian Rock Mechanics Association, Canada, CD only.
Mauldon, M., Dunne, W.M. and Rohrbaugh, M.B. (2001) Circular scanlines and circular windows: new tools for characterizing the geometry of fracture traces, Journal of Structural Geology, Elsevier, Vol. 23, pp. 247–258.
Read, J. and Stacey, P. (2009) Guidelines for open pit slope design, CSIRO Publishing, 496 p.
Ryan, T.M. and Pryor, P.R. (2000) Design catch benches and interramp slopes, W.A. Hustrulid, M.K. McCarter and D.J. Van Zyl (eds), Slope stability in surface mining, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Littleton, USA, 442 p.
Sturzenegger, M. and Stead, D. (2009a) Close-range terrestrial digital photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning for discontinuity characterization on rock cuts, Engineering Geology, Elsevier, Vol. 106, pp. 163–182.
Sturzenegger, M. and Stead, D. (2009b) Quantifying discontinuity orientation and persistence on high mountain rock slopes and large landslides using terrestrial remote sensing techniques, Natural Hazard and Earth System Sciences, European Geosciences Union, Vol. 9(2), pp. 267–287.
Sturzenegger, M., Stead, D. and Elmo, D. (2011) Terrestrial remote sensing-based estimation of mean trace length, trace intensity and block size/shape, Engineering Geology, Elsevier, Vol. 119, pp. 96–111.
Tuckey, Z. (2012) An integrated field-mapping-numerical modelling approach to characterising discontinuity persistence and intact rock bridges in large open pit slopes, Master Thesis, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, 469 p.
Zhang, L. and Einstein, H.H. (1998) Estimating the mean trace length of rock discontinuities, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 31(4), pp. 217–235.