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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: The use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in monitoring...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 583-597, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 23 Feb 2018

Research article | 23 Feb 2018

Slope stability and rockfall assessment of volcanic tuffs using RPAS with 2-D FEM slope modelling

Ákos Török1, Árpád Barsi2, Gyula Bögöly1, Tamás Lovas2, Árpád Somogyi2, and Péter Görög1 Ákos Török et al.
  • 1Department of Engineering Geology and Geotechnics, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, 1111 Budapest, Hungary
  • 2Department of Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, 1111 Budapest, Hungary

Abstract. Steep, hardly accessible cliffs of rhyolite tuff in NE Hungary are prone to rockfalls, endangering visitors of a castle. Remote sensing techniques were employed to obtain data on terrain morphology and to provide slope geometry for assessing the stability of these rock walls. A RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) was used to collect images which were processed by Pix4D mapper (structure from motion technology) to generate a point cloud and mesh. The georeferencing was made by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) with the use of seven ground control points. The obtained digital surface model (DSM) was processed (vegetation removal) and the derived digital terrain model (DTM) allowed cross sections to be drawn and a joint system to be detected. Joint and discontinuity system was also verified by field measurements. On-site tests as well as laboratory tests provided additional engineering geological data for slope modelling. Stability of cliffs was assessed by 2-D FEM (finite element method). Global analyses of cross sections show that weak intercalating tuff layers may serve as potential slip surfaces. However, at present the greatest hazard is related to planar failure along ENE–WSW joints and to wedge failure. The paper demonstrates that RPAS is a rapid and useful tool for generating a reliable terrain model of hardly accessible cliff faces. It also emphasizes the efficiency of RPAS in rockfall hazard assessment in comparison with other remote sensing techniques such as terrestrial laser scanning (TLS).

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Short summary
The present study demonstrates the application of drones and terrestrial laser scanner in stability assessment of steep, hardly accessible rock slopes that can endanger human lives. These technologies can be deployed very quickly, but data processing requires time. For reliable hazard evaluation, besides these techniques, engineering geological field work, laboratory tests of the mechanical properties of rocks and computer simulations are also necessary.
The present study demonstrates the application of drones and terrestrial laser scanner in...