Danielson, J, Kinakin, D & Stilwell, I 2020, 'Tools for validating and creating reliable fault models', in PM Dight (ed.), Slope Stability 2020: Proceedings of the 2020 International Symposium on Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 577-590, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2025_35
Reliable 3D fault models are critically important for open pit slope design and slope stability assessment. Fault-influenced slope failures are major geotechnical hazards which frequently result in production slowdowns and require mitigation through design changes or depressurisation. Despite its importance in assessing slope stability, 3D fault model development is often left to the mine geologists or external geological consultants, whose focus is commonly the distribution of ore, not geotechnical hazard. This study presents a data-driven, semi-automated method for validating, identifying, and mapping faults that can influence slope stability. The tools are developed using the Python programming language’s freely available scientific computing libraries. These scalable libraries are used to leverage and visualise massive datasets, like blasthole drilling data or rock quality designation (RQD) to assess and improve fault models. Two case studies are provided to illustrate the application of the tools.
Keywords: fault modelling, pit slope instabilities, rock strength distribution, data visualisation
Bærentzen, JA & Aanæs, H 2005, ‘Signed distance computation using the angle weighted pseudonormal’, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 243–253,
Barill, G, Dickson, NG, Schmidt, R, Levin, DIW & Jacobson, A 2018, ‘Fast winding numbers for soups and clouds’, ACM Transactions on Graphics, vol. 37, no. 4,
Choi, JH, Edwards, P, Ko, K & Kim, YS 2016, ‘Definition and classification of fault damage zones: a review and a new methodological approach’, Earth-Science Reviews, vol. 152 (November 2017), pp. 70–87,
Danielson J, Stead D, Kinakin D & Smith S 2017, ‘The use of specific energy for fault mapping in an open pit mine’, Proceedings of the 51st US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, American Rock Mechanics Association, Alexandria, pp. 815–821.
Danielson, J 2018, An Investigation into the Time Dependent Deformation Behaviour of Open Pit Slopes at Gibraltar Mine, BC, Canada, MSc thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby.
Dawson-Haggerty, M 2019, Trimesh, Python library,
Deere, DU & Deere, DW 1988, ‘The rock quality designation (RQD) index in practice’, in L Kirkaldie (ed.), Rock Classification Systems for Engineering Purposes, STP 984, American Society for Testing Materials, Philadelphia, pp. 91–101.
Kington, J 2019, Mplstereonet, Python library,
Paris, S & Durand, F 2009, ‘A fast approximation of the bilateral filter using a signal processing approach’, International Journal of Computer Vision, vol. 81, pp. 24–52.
Pells, PJ, Bieniawski, ZT, Hencher, SR & Pells, SE 2017, ‘Rock quality designation (RQD): time to rest in peace’, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, vol. 54, no. 6, pp. 825–834,
Richard, T, Dagrain, F, Poyol, E & Detournay, E 2012, ‘Rock strength determination from scratch tests’, Engineering Geology,
vol. 147–148, pp. 91–100,
Teale, R 1965, ‘The concept of specific energy in rock drilling’, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, vol. 2, pp. 57–73.