Case study of a rockfall in Chongqing, China: movement characteristics of the initial failure process of a tower-shaped rock mass

  • Kai HeEmail author
  • Chunli Chen
  • Bin Li
Original Paper


Tower-shaped rock masses are particularly susceptible to failure, via fracture and disintegration, due to their inherently large height-to-diameter ratio. A rockfall event at the Zengziyan Cliff, in Chongqing, China, was selected for a case study. Based on video footage, the movement characteristics of the initial failure processes were analyzed in three movement stages: initiation, acceleration and deceleration. The failure process began at the bottom of the tower-shaped unstable rock mass and manifested itself in the form of fissure extension followed eventually by disintegration. The acceleration curve presented a continuous negative fluctuation associated with buffering in the deceleration stage. At the same time, the movement characteristic curves at different measurement points displayed significant time-dependent differences, proving that cracking, collisions and disintegration occur in the failed rock mass during the initial failure process. The results of this analysis provide a reference for the early identification of similar rockfalls and for analysis of their mechanisms.


Rockfall Video analysis Failure process Movement characteristics Time-dependent differences 



This study is conducted with financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41702342); the Scientific Research Fund of Institute of Geomechanics, CAGS (No. DZLXJK201610); and the China Geological Survey (No. DD20160268-4).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Neotectonic and Geohazard, Ministry of Land ResourcesChinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Institute of GeomechanicsBeijingChina
  2. 2.China Institute for Geo-Environment MonitoringBeijingChina

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