Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1318–1335 | Cite as

Integrated rockfall hazard and risk assessment along highways: An example for Jiuzhaigou area after the 2017 Ms 7.0 Jiuzhaigou earthquake, China

  • Xiao-ning Li
  • Si-xiang LingEmail author
  • Chun-wei Sun
  • Jian-xiang Xu
  • Tao Huang


This work addresses the integrated assessment of rockfall (including landslides) hazards and risk for S301, Z120, and Z128 highways, which are important transportation corridors to the world heritage site Jiuzhai Valley National Park in Sichuan, China. The highways are severely threatened by rockfalls or landslide events after the 2017 Ms 7.0 Jiuzhaigou earthquake. Field survey (September 14–18th, 2017, May 15–20th, 2018, and September 9–17th, 2018), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and satellite image identified high-relief rockfalls and road construction rockfalls or landslides along the highway. Rockfall hazard is qualitatively evaluated using block count, velocity, and flying height through a 3D rockfall simulation at local and regional scales. Rockfall risk is quantitatively assessed with rockfall event probability, propagation probability, spatial probability, and vulnerability for different block volume classes. Approximately 21.5%, 20.5%, and 5.3% of the road mileage was found to be subject to an unacceptable (UA) risk class for vehicles along S301, Z120, and Z128 highways, respectively. Approximately 20.1% and 3.3% of the road mileage belong to the UA risk class for tourists along Z120 and Z128 highways, respectively. Results highlighted that high-relief rockfall events were intensively located at K50 to K55 (Guanmenzi to Ganheba) and K70 to K72 (Jiudaoguai to Shangsizhai Village) road mileages along S301 highway and KZ18 to KZ22 (Five Flower Lake to Arrow Bamboo Lake) road mileages, KZ30 (Swan Lake to Virgin Forests), and KY10.5 kilometers in Jiuzhai Valley. Rockfalls in these locations were classified under the UA risk class and medium to very high hazard index. Road construction rockfalls were located at K67 (Jiuzhai Paradise) and K75–K76 kilometers along S301 highway and KZ12 to KZ14 (Rhino Lake to Nuorilang Waterfall), KZ16.5 to KZ17.5 (Golden Bell Lake), KY5 (Lower Seasonal Lake), and KY14 (Upper Seasonal Lake) kilometers along Z120 and Z128 highway in Jiuzhai Valley. Rockfalls in these areas were within a reasonable practicable risk to UA risk class and very low to medium hazard index. Finally, defensive measures, including flexible nets, concrete walls, and artificial tunnels, could be selected appropriately on the basis of the rockfall hazard index and risk class. This study revealed the integration between qualitative rockfall hazard assessment and quantitative rockfall risk assessment, which is crucial in studying rockfall prevention and mitigation.


Rockfall Hazard assessment Risk assessment 3D simulation model Highway Jiuzhaigou earthquake 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The present work was supported by research funds awarded by the Key Research & Development Program of Sichuan Province (No. 2017SZYZF0008, No. 2019YFS0489). The authors thank the MA Guoxin from Science and Technology Bureau of Jiuzhaigou County for kind support in the field. The authors thank the official editors and three anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and valuable suggestion.

Supplementary material


  1. Agliardi F, Crosta GB (2003) High resolution three-dimensional numerical modelling of rockfalls. International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 40(4): 455–471. Google Scholar
  2. Agliardi F, Crosta GB, Frattini P (2009) Integrating rockfall risk assessment and countermeasure design by 3D modelling techniques. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 9(4): 1059–1073. Google Scholar
  3. Budetta P, Nappi M (2013) Comparison between qualitative rockfall risk rating systems for a road affected by high traffic intensity. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 13(6): 1643–1653. Google Scholar
  4. Bunce CM, Cruden DM, Morgenstern NR (1997) Assessment of the hazard from rock fall on a highway. Canadian Geotechnical Journal 34(3): 344–356. Google Scholar
  5. Cardinali MP, Reichenbach F, Guzzetti F, et al. (2002) A geomorphological approach to estimate landslide hazard and risk in urban and rural areas in Umbria, central Italy. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 2(1–2): 57–72. Google Scholar
  6. CENC (2017) China Earthquake Networks Center, China Earthquake Administration.
  7. Chen XQ, Chen JG, Cui P, et al. (2018) Assessment of prospective hazards resulting from the 2017 earthquake at the world heritage site Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China. Journal of Mountain Science 15(4): 779–792. Google Scholar
  8. Cheng Q, Hu CX, Yang XB (2018) Development regularity and preventive countermeasures of geological hazards along the highway in Jiuzhaigou earthquake area. The Chinese Journal of Geological Hazard and Control 29(4): 114–120. (In Chinese). Google Scholar
  9. Corominas J, Matas G, Ruiz-Carulla R (2019) Quantitative analysis of risk from fragmental rockfalls. Landslides 16(1): 5–21. Google Scholar
  10. Cruden DM, Varnes DJ (1996) Landslide types and processes. Special Report, Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences 247: 36–75.Google Scholar
  11. Deng GP (2011) Study of tourism geosciences landscape formation and protection of Jiuzhaigou world natural heritage site. PhD thesis. Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Dorren LKA, Heuvelink GBM (2004) Effect of support size on the accuracy of a distributed rockfall model. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 18(6): 595–609. Google Scholar
  13. Dorren LKA, Berger F (2005) Stem breakage of trees and energy dissipation during rockfall impacts. Tree Physiology 26(1): 63–71. Google Scholar
  14. Dorren LKA, Berger F, Putters US (2006) Real-size experiments and 3-D simulation of rockfall on forested and non-forested slopes. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 6(1): 145–153. Google Scholar
  15. Dorren LKA (2016) Rockyfor3D (V5.2) revealed — Transparent description of the complete 3D rockfall model. ecorisQ paper, Geneva, 32p. Google Scholar
  16. Dussauge C, Grasso J-R, Helmstetter A (2003) Statistical analysis of rockfall volume distributions: implications for rockfall dynamics. Journal of Geophysical Research 108(B6): 2286. Google Scholar
  17. Evans SG, Hungr O (1993) The assessment of rockfall hazard at the base of talus slopes. Canadian Geotechnical Journal 30(4): 620–636. Google Scholar
  18. Fan XM, Scaringi G, Xu Q, et al. (2018) Coseismic landslides triggered byy the 8th August 2017 Ms 7.0 Jiuzhaigou earthquake (Sichuan, China): factors controlling their spatial distribution and implications for the seismogenic blind fault identification. Landslides 15(5): 967–983. Google Scholar
  19. Fell R, Ho KK, Lacasse S, et al. (2005) A framework for landslide risk assessment and management. In: Landslide Risk Management, edited by: Hungr O, Fell R, Couture R, Eberhardt E. Taylor and Francis, London, 3–26.Google Scholar
  20. Ferlisi S, Cascini L, Corominas J, et al. (2012) Rockfall risk assessment to persons travelling in vehicles along a road: the case study of the Amalfi coastal road (southern Italy). Natural Hazards 62(2): 691–721. Google Scholar
  21. Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P, Wieczorek GF (2003) Rockfall hazard and risk assessment in the Yosemite Valley, California, USA. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 3(6): 491–503. Google Scholar
  22. Guzzetti F, Reichenbach P, Ghigi S (2004) Rockfall hazard and risk assessment along a transportation corridor in the Nera valley, central Italy. Environmental Management 34(2): 191–208. Google Scholar
  23. Hantz D (2011) Quantitative assessment of diffuse rock fall hazard along a cliff foot. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 11(5): 1303–1309. Google Scholar
  24. Hou TX, Xu Q, Xie HQ, et al. (2017) An estimation model for the fragmentation properties of brittle rock block due to the impacts against an obstruction. Journal of Mountain Science 14(6): 1161–1173. Google Scholar
  25. Hu HT (1989) Collapse and Rockfall. China Railway Press, Beijing. p7 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  26. Huang H (2007) Research on road traffic environmental carrying capacity in Jiuzhaigou valley corescenic spots. Master Thesis, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu. p 52. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. Hungr O, Evans SG, Hazzard J (1999) Magnitude and frequency of rock falls and rock slides along the main transportation corridors of southwestern British Columbia. Canadian Geotechnical Journal 36(2): 224–238. Google Scholar
  28. Jaboyedoff M, Labiouse V (2011) Technical Note: preliminary estimation of rockfall ronout zone. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 11(3): 819–828. Google Scholar
  29. Kirby E, Whipple KX, Burchfiel BC, et al. (2000) Neotectonics of the Min Shan, China: implications for mechanisms drivingQuaternary deformation along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Geological Society of America Bulletin 112(3): 375–393.<375:NOTMSC>2.0.CO;2 Google Scholar
  30. Lan HX, Martin CD, Lim CH (2007) RockFall analyst: a GIS extension for three-dimensional and spatially distributed rockfall hazard modeling. Computer & Geosciences 33(2): 262–279. Google Scholar
  31. Li YS, Huang C, Yi SJ, et al. (2017) Study on seismic fault and source rupture tectonic dynamic mechanism of Jiuzhaigou Ms7.0 earthquake. Journal of Engineering Geology 25(4): 1141–1150. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  32. Ling SX, Li XN, Wu XY, et al. (2015) Rockfall hazard assessment for a railway line in western Shanxi province, China. 10th Asian Regional Conference of IAEG, Kyoto, Japan. pp 1–7.Google Scholar
  33. Ling SX, Wu XY, Sun CW, et al. (2016) Mineralogy and geochemistry of three weathered lower Cambrian black shale profiles in northeast Chongqing, China. Geosciences Journal 20(6): 793–812. Google Scholar
  34. Ling SX, Wu XY, Zhao SY, et al. (2018) Evolution of porosity and clay mineralogy associated with chemical weathering of black shale: a case study of Lower Cambrian black shale in Chongqing, China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 188: 326–339. Google Scholar
  35. Liu YR, Tang HM (1999) Rock Mass Mechanics. China University of Geosciences Press, Wuhan. p 32. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Lugli S, Tang Y, Reghizzi M, et al. (2017) Seasonal pattern in the high-elevation fluvial travertine from the Jiuzhaigou national nature reserve, Sichuan, Southwestern China. Journal of Sedimentary Research 87(3): 253–271. Google Scholar
  37. Michoud C, Derron M-H, Horton P, et al. (2012) Rockfall hazard and risk assessment along roads at a regional scale: example in Swiss Alps. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 12(3): 615–629. Google Scholar
  38. Mineo S, Pappalardo G, D’Urso A, et al. (2017) Event tree analysis for rockfall risk assessment along a strategic mountainous transportation route. Environmental Earth Sciences 76: 620. Google Scholar
  39. Mineo S, Pappalardo G, Mangiameli M, et al. (2018) Rockfall Analysis for Preliminary Hazard Assessment of the Cliff of Taormina Saracen Castle (Sicily). Sustainability 10(2): 417. Google Scholar
  40. Moore JR, Sander JW, Dietrich WE, et al. (2009) Influence of rock mass strength on the erosion rate of alpine cliffs. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34: 1339–1352. Google Scholar
  41. Moos C, Dorren L, Stoffel M (2017) Quantifying the effect of forests on frequency and intensity of rockfalls. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 17(2): 291–304. Google Scholar
  42. Moos C, Fehlmann M, Trappmann D, et al. (2018) Integrating the mitigating effect of forests into quantitative rockfall risk analysis-two case studies in Switzerland. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 32: 55–74. Google Scholar
  43. Mou CL, Wang RH, Tan QY, et al. (2011) The lithofacies paleography of the northern margin of Yangtze Block in Changxing Phase of Late Pernian. Earth Science Frontiers 18(4): 1–8. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  44. NBSC (2018) National Bureau of Statistics of China. Website:
  45. Nicolet P, Jaboyedoff M, Cloutier C, et al. (2016) Brief communication: On direct impact probability of landslides on vehicles. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 16(4): 995–1004. Google Scholar
  46. Pappalardo G, Mineo S, Rapisarda F (2014) Rockfall hazard assessment along a road on the Peloritani Mountains (northeastern Sicily, Italy). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 14(10): 2735–2748. Google Scholar
  47. Pierson LA, van Vickle R (1993) Rockfall hazard rating system — Participant’s manual. Report FHWA-SA-93-057. Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transporation. p 80.Google Scholar
  48. Pfeiffer TJ, Bowen TD (1989) Computer simulation of rockfalls. Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists 26: 135–146. Google Scholar
  49. Ruiz-Carulla J, Corominas O, Mavrouli O (2015) A methodology to obtain the block size distribution of fragmental rockfall deposits. Landslides 12(4): 815–825. Google Scholar
  50. Santi PM, Russell CP, Higgins JD, et al. (2009) Modification and statistical analysis of the Colorado Rockfall Hazard Rating System. Engineering Geology 104(1–2): 55–65. Google Scholar
  51. Stevens WD (1998) RocFall: a tool for probabilistic analysis, design of remedial measures and prediction of rocfalls. Master Thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
  52. Tian YY, Xu C, Ma SY, et al. (2019) Inventory and spatial distribution of landslides triggered by the 8th August 2017 Mw 6.5 Jiuzhaigou earthquake, China. Journal of Earth Sciences 30(1): 206–217. Google Scholar
  53. Uzielli M, Nadim F, Lacasse S, et al. (2008) A conceptual framework for quantitative estimation of physical vulnerability to landslides. Engineering Geology 102(3–4): 251–253. Google Scholar
  54. van Veen M, Hutchinson DJ, Bonneau D et al. (2018) Combining temporal 3-D remote sensing data with spatial rockfall simulations for improved understanding of hazardous slope within rail corridors. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 18(8): 2295–2308. Google Scholar
  55. Walker B, Davies W, Wilson G (2007) Practice note guidelines for landslide risk management 2007. Australian Geomechanics Journal 42(1): 63–109.Google Scholar
  56. Wang J, Jin W, Cui YF, et al. (2018) Earthquake-triggered affecting a UNESCO Natural Site: the 2017 Jiuzhaigou Earthquake in the World National Park, China. Journal of Mountain Science 15(7): 1412–1428. Google Scholar
  57. Wang L, Feng S, Liu YG (2013) Preliminary study on carrying capacity and its control mode of land transport environment in Jiuzhaigou. Territory & Natural Resources Study (4): 69–72. (In Chinese)
  58. Wang XK (2015) Study on the landscape fragmentation impaction at artificial corridor in Natural Reserve: a case study of Jiuzhai Valley National Park. Master Thesis, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai. p 53. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  59. Wu CH, Cui P, Li YS, et al. (2018) Seismogenic fault and topography control on the spatial patterns of landslides triggered by the 2017 Jiuzhaigou earthquake. Journal of Mountain Science 15(4): 793–807. Google Scholar
  60. Wu XY, Ling SX, Liao X, et al. (2015) Weathering geochemical behavior and slope failure characteristics of black strata in Guizhou and Guangxi province, Southwest China. Engineering Geology for Society and Territory, Springer International Publishing 2: 1099–1104. Google Scholar
  61. Zhang Y, Zhang G, Hetland EA et al. (2018) Source fault and slip distribution of the 2017 Mw 6.5 Jiuzhaigou, China, earthquake and its tectonic implications. Seismological Research Letters 89(4): 1345–1353. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Geosciences and Environmental EngineeringSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduChina
  3. 3.Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityUji, KyotoJapan
  4. 4.Productivity Promotion Centre of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous PrefectureMaerkangChina

Personalised recommendations