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Computers & Geosciences


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ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic


block-toppling analysis$
Bryan S.A. Tatone a,b,, Giovanni Grasselli a
a
Geomechanics Research Group, Lassonde Institute, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 35 Saint George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A4
b
Geological Engineering Program, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

a r t i c l e in fo abstract

Article history: Uncertainty and variability are inherent in the input parameters required for rock slope stability
Received 26 September 2008 analyses. Since in the 1970s, probabilistic methods have been applied to slope stability analyses as a
Received in revised form means of incorporating and evaluating the impact of uncertainty. Since then, methods of probabilistic
1 April 2009
analysis for planar and wedge sliding failures have become well established in the literature and are
Accepted 28 April 2009
now widely used in practice. Analysis of toppling failure, however, has received relatively little
attention. This paper introduces a Monte Carlo simulation procedure for the probabilistic analysis of
Keywords: block-toppling and describes its implementation into a spreadsheet-based program (ROCKTOPPLE). The
Probabilistic slope stability analysis analysis procedure considers both kinematic and kinetic probabilities of failure. These probabilities are
Uncertainty
evaluated separately and multiplied to give the total probability of block toppling. To demonstrate the
Monte Carlo simulation
use of ROCKTOPPLE, it is first verified against a published deterministic result, and then applied to a
Limit equilibrium
Rock slope engineering practical example with uncertain input parameters. Results obtained with the probabilistic approach
are compared to those of an equivalent deterministic analysis in which mean values of input parameters
are considered.
& 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction to rock slope stability analysis as an alternative approach of


dealing with uncertainty. Probabilistic slope stability analysis
Like all rock engineering problems, slope stability analysis is a tools not only offer a systematic way of quantifying and evaluating
data-limited problem that always involves some degree of the role of uncertainty, but also provide a useful approach to
uncertainty. This uncertainty arises due to the natural spatial estimate hazard frequency for quantitative risk analyses, which
and temporal variabilities of rock mass properties, prohibitive cost are finding increased popularity in engineering practice (e.g.
of obtaining large amounts of data during site investigations, lab Duzgun, 2008; Fell et al., 2005; Ho et al., 2000; Morgenstern,
testing results not representing in situ properties, modelling 1997; Pine and Roberds, 2005).
assumptions, and human errors. (Baecher and Christian, 2003). Simplified probabilistic methods for the stability analysis of
Traditionally, slope stability analysis has followed the deter- rock slopes were first introduced in the 1970s (McMahon, 1971;
ministic approach of calculating resisting and driving forces to Major et al., 1977; Piteau and Martin, 1977; and others). Since
arrive at a factor of safety. To address the issue of uncertainty, then, the concepts and methods have undergone continual
conservative values of rock mass properties are adopted and a development such that methods of probabilistic analysis for
minimum acceptable factor of safety is specified to provide a translational failures are now well established in the literature
margin of safety against unexpected performance. Although this (Carter and Lajtai, 1992; Duzgun et al., 2003; Feng and Lajtai,
approach is widely utilized and accepted, the impact of con- 1998; Park and West, 2001; Quek and Leung, 1995; and many
servatism cannot be assessed and effects of varying degrees of others). At present, there are several commercially available
uncertainty cannot be quantified. As a result, apparently con- software packages capable of performing probabilistic limit
servative designs are not always safe against failure (El-Ramly equilibrium slope stability analysis. Some of the most popular
et al., 2002). Increasingly, probabilistic methods are being applied packages include: SLOPE/W (GEO-SLOPE, 2007), SLIDE,
ROCPLANE, SWEDGE (Rocscience, 2008a–c), and RockPack III
(RockWare, 2008). These software packages employ Monte Carlo
$
Program code and user manual available at: http://www.geogroup.utoronto.ca/ simulations to repeatedly calculate the factor of safety with
 Corresponding author at: Geomechanics Research Group, Lassonde Institute,
input parameters that are randomly generated according to
Department of Civil Engineering , University of Toronto, 35 Saint George Street,
user-defined probability distributions. Therefore, instead of
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A4.
E-mail addresses: bryan.tatone@utoronto.ca (B.S.A. Tatone), obtaining a singular value for the factor of safety from singular
giovanni.grasselli@utoronto.ca (G. Grasselli). input values (deterministic approach), a distribution of values is

0098-3004/$ - see front matter & 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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obtained, which represents the uncertainty of the input para- sliding, wedge sliding, or toppling. This paper focuses on the
meters. The probability of failure is defined as the number of toppling failure mode, which involves the overturning of rock
Monte Carlo trials producing a factor of safety less than one columns delineated by a well-defined discontinuity set striking
divided by the total number of trials. sub-parallel to the slope face and dipping steeply into the face.
Although probabilistic methods for analyzing soil slopes and Goodman and Bray (1976) classified toppling failures into three
rock slopes susceptible to planar sliding and wedge sliding are types (Fig. 1). The analysis procedure presented in this paper is
now well established, the toppling failure mode of rock slopes has intended for the analysis of slopes susceptible to the block-
received relatively little attention. Very few publications can be toppling type of failure only.
found that focus on incorporating the uncertainty of input
parameters in the analysis of toppling (Muralha, 2003; Scavia 2.1. Kinematic conditions for block-toppling
et al., 1990) and none have considered the role of kinematic
stability on the probability of failure. The objectives of this paper Considering a single rock block on an inclined surface subject
are to: (1) review the conventional deterministic stability analysis to no external forces (Fig. 2a), toppling occurs if the block’s centre
of slopes susceptible to block-toppling; (2) introduce a new of gravity acts outside of its base and sliding does not occur along
probabilistic block-toppling analysis procedure that accounts for its base. Mathematically, toppling occurs when
kinematic stability; (3) describe the implementation of this new
procedure in a computer program created in Microsoft Excel using Dx=yn o tan c ð1Þ
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA); and (4) demonstrate how this and
program can be used as a tool to analyze slopes with block-
cof ð2Þ
toppling hazard.
where yn and Dx are the height and width of the block,
respectively, and c and f are the dip and friction angle of the
base plane, respectively.
2. Conventional deterministic analysis of When a series of blocks is considered (Fig. 2b), two additional
block-toppling failure requirements exist. The first requirement is that the strike of
discontinuities defining the base and width of the toppling blocks
Before introducing the probabilistic analysis procedure, it is must be sub-parallel to the slope face ( 7201) such that the blocks
valuable to review the conventional deterministic approach for are free to topple without restraint from the adjacent rock mass.
analyzing slopes susceptible to block toppling. The evaluation of This requirement is defined mathematically as (Norrish and
rock slope stability is typically a two-step process. First a Wyllie, 1996)
kinematic analysis of structural discontinuities via stereographic
jaa  as j o 203 and jab  as jo 203 ð3Þ
techniques is undertaken to identify potentially unstable condi-
tions. Subsequently, if a kinematically unstable condition is found where aa and ab are the dip directions of the discontinuities
to exist, a kinetic analysis using a limit equilibrium method is defining the base and width of the blocks, respectively, and as is
used to evaluate the factor of safety (Norrish and Wyllie, 1996; the dip direction of the slope face. The second requirement is that
Wyllie and Mah, 2004). interlayer slip can occur along sub-vertical discontinuities defin-
Depending on the orientations of discontinuities in relation to ing the width of the blocks. Assuming the in situ stresses close to
the geometry of the slope under consideration, potential slope the slope face are uniaxial and aligned in a direction parallel to the
failures can typically be classified into four modes: circular, planar slope face, the condition for interlayer slip can be expressed as

Fig. 1. Common types of toppling: (a) block toppling of rock columns divided into blocks of finite height by a second, widely spaced, roughly orthogonal joint set;(b) flexural
toppling of continuous rock columns; and (c) block-flexural toppling characterized by pseudo-continuous flexure of rock columns with numerous cross-joints that
accommodate significant lateral displacements (from Wyllie and Mah, 2004 after Goodman and Bray, 1976).

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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Fig. 2. Summary of kinematic conditions required for block-toppling failure: (a) example of a single block on an inclined base plane, (b) example of a series of blocks on a
stepped base plane, and (c) and (d) stereographic representation of a slope face and discontinuities along with envelopes (shaded areas) in which discontinuity poles must
lie to satisfy kinematic conditions for block toppling (adapted from Norrish and Wyllie, 1996).

(Goodman and Bray, 1976, Norrish and Wyllie, 1996)


7
ð903  cb Þ r ðcs  fb Þ ð4Þ
where fb and cb are the friction angle and dip angle of the 6
sub-vertical discontinuities, respectively, and cs is the dip of the 5
slope face. Figs. 2c and d illustrate the lower hemispherical 4
stereographic projection of the slope geometry depicted in
Fig. 2b along with envelopes defined by conditions (2)–(4).
It is noted that although Cruden (1989) has shown the 3
kinematic limits of block-toppling to extend to cataclinal, under-
dip slopes, the analysis procedure and computer program Toe block 2
presented in this paper is restricted to the anaclinal geometry Stable
originally outlined by Goodman and Bray (1976).
1 Topple

2.2. Kinetic (limit equilibrium) analysis of block-toppling Slide

Given that the kinematic conditions for block toppling exist in


the slope under consideration, the kinetic stability can be Fig. 3. Example of a system of toppling blocks on a stepped base (Goodman and
evaluated using the limit equilibrium method developed by Bray, 1976).

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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Goodman and Bray (1976). This method considers the interaction  a set of short blocks at the toe of the slope (e.g. Block 1) that
of a number of tall rock columns resting on a stepped base (Fig. 3). are pushed by the toppling blocks above. These blocks stable
The blocks forming the slope are classified into three groups based depending on slope geometry.
on their stability mode:
The stability analysis is a step-wise process that begins with
 a set of short stable blocks in the upper part of the slope establishing the dimensions and calculating the forces acting on
(e.g. Blocks 5, 6) not meeting the toppling criteria defined by each block in the slope. Subsequently, the stability of each block is
(1) and not sliding on their base (ca o fa); evaluated starting at the topmost block. Considering the balance
 a set of taller blocks midway down the slope (e.g. Block 2–4), of forces and moments acting on the blocks, each block may
which meet the toppling criteria defined by (1) and, as a result, remain stable, topple, or slide. If a block is found to topple or slide,
exert a force on subsequent downslope blocks, producing a a force is transmitted to the next block in the slope equal in
‘‘domino effect’’ (Wyllie and Wood, 1983); and magnitude to the force needed to maintain the current block in

Start

Input mean values, standard deviations, and


number of trials (Nummtrials) as defined
by user (except spacing)

Set ini, Unstable Count,


Stable Count, and
Kinematic Count = 0 10
8
Randomly sample input 6
values from user defined PDF’s 4
2
0
Check kinematic
stabiliity

Kinematically No
feasible ?

Yes

Kinematic Count = Kinematic Count +1

Generate random
block geometry

Perform limit
equilibrium analysis

Yes No
If FS > 1

Stable Count = Unstable Count =


Stable Count +1 Unstable Count +1

ini = ini + 1 N
No
ini = Num Trials?

Yes

Calculate probabilities of failure:


Pkinematic, Pf kinetic|kimematic, and Pf

Stop

Fig. 4. Overview of probabilistic block-toppling stability analysis procedure.

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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limiting equilibrium. However, if a block is stable, no forces are 3. Development of a probabilistic block-toppling analysis
transmitted to the next block in the slope. The overall stability of procedure and its implementation in a spreadsheet-based
the slope is controlled by the stability of the lowermost block, or program
toe block. If the toe block is stable, the entire slope is considered
stable and, conversely, if the toe block is unstable, the entire slope This section describes the probabilistic block-toppling analysis
is considered unstable. procedure and its implementation in a computer program called
As with all limit equilibrium methods, this method can easily ROCKTOPPLE created in Microsoft Excel using VBA (available at
incorporate external forces acting on the slope, including support www.geogroup.utoronto.ca). The program logic is described
loads, water pressures, and pseudo-static earthquake loads by first providing an overview of the entire analysis procedure
(Wyllie, 1999). followed by a detailed description of each major step in the
procedure.

2.3. Factor of safety


3.1. Overview of probabilistic analysis procedure
Since the toe block is assumed to control the overall stability of
The probabilistic approach developed herein (Fig. 4) utilizes
a system of toppling blocks, the factor of safety of the toe block is
Monte Carlo simulation to repeatedly perform the deterministic
assumed to define the factor of safety of the entire slope. In the
analysis procedure (kinematic and kinetic analysis) described in
absence of cohesion, Goodman and Bray (1976) proposed that the
the preceding section. Considering Fig. 4, the first step in the
following equation can be used to define a factor of safety against
analysis procedure requires the user to specify the number of
block toppling:
Monte Carlo trials and define the appropriate probability
tanfavailable distributions for the parameters characterizing the slope (see
FS ¼ ð5Þ
tanfrequired Section 3.2). Subsequently, the Monte Carlo simulation procedure
is initiated, which involves repeatedly sampling random input
where tan favailable defines the coefficient of friction on the base parameters from the user-defined probability distributions;
plane of the toe block and tan frequired defines the coefficient of checking the kinematic stability conditions (see Section 3.3);
friction needed for limiting equilibrium. One must be aware that generating the random slope geometry (see Section 3.4); and
this approach assumes that the critical failure mode of the toe evaluating the kinetic stability (factor of safety) via limit
block is sliding (which is the case in the three examples presented equilibrium analysis (see Section 3.5). Afterwards, the kinematic,
in Goodman and Bray, 1976) when, in fact, the critical failure mode kinetic, and total probabilities of block-toppling failure are
of the toe block may also be toppling (Wyllie and Mah, 2004). calculated (see Section 3.7).
Moreover, it assumes that the blocks above the toe block push on The methodology outlined in Fig. 4 was coded into an Excel-
the toe block when, in fact, there may be multiple blocks of the based program as it allowed the use of Excel’s built-in functions and
‘‘stable’’ mode at the toe that collectively resist the movement of graphing capabilities, greatly reducing the overall coding effort
upslope blocks. In these two cases outlined above, a different required. The Excel workbook that houses the ROCKTOPPLE program
means of calculating the factor of safety must be adopted. The consists of 6 worksheets or ‘‘tabs’’ named as follows: ‘‘Analysis
approach adopted in the current study is presented in a later Input’’, ‘‘Add Support’’, ‘‘Results’’, ‘‘Analysis Details 1’’, ‘‘Analysis
section of this paper (Section 3.5.2). Details 2’’, and ‘‘Analysis Details 3’’. The first three of these tabs are

Fig. 5. Screenshot of ‘‘Analysis Input’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE.

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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discussed in the subsequent sections of this paper while, descrip- are assumed to define the apparent dip angles for the
tions of the ‘‘Analysis Details’’ tabs are reserved for Appendix A. 2D section. Since true dip is always greater than apparent dip,
this assumption introduces some conservatism into the kinetic
3.2. Definition of input parameters analysis.
When the remaining input parameters, including joint spacing,
Fig. 5 illustrates the ‘‘Analysis Input’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE. friction angles, unit weights, and external loads, are considered
Shaded cells on the left side of the tab indicate values that must be ‘‘uncertain’’, their values can be charcterized by normal, lognor-
entered by the user, while the graphic on the right side provides a mal, or exponential distributions. Estimates of the mean and
preview of the slope geometry according to the mean input values. standard deviation are the only user inputs required to define
The input values are divided into ‘‘fixed’’ parameters, defined these distributions.
by singular input values, and ‘‘uncertain’’ parameters, defined by
probabilistic distributions. The height, H, and orientation of the 3.3. Kinematic analysis
slope, as, cs, and cts are always considered ‘‘fixed’’ while, all
remaining parameters have the option of being treated as ‘‘fixed’’ Based on the randomly sampled values defining the orienta-
or ‘‘uncertain’’. In addition to the parameters describing the slope, tion and friction angle of joint sets A and B, ROCKTOPPLE checks if
the user must also specify the number of Monte Carlo trials to be the kinematic conditions for block toppling, as defined in Section
performed and what support measures, if any, should be 2.1, are satisfied. The condition set out by (1), however, is not
considered in the analysis. enforced since external forces such as water pressures or seismic
When the orientations of joint sets A and B are considered loads can cause blocks to topple despite having a centre of gravity
‘‘uncertain’’, they are assumed to be defined by a Fisher that lies within their base. If the remaining kinematic conditions
distribution (Fisher, 1953), which is a symmetric three-dimen- are satisfied, the program proceeds with kinetic analysis, as
sional (3D) distribution often used to describe the angular described in the following sections of this paper; otherwise, it
dispersion of joint orientations about a mean value (Priest, advances to the next Monte Carlo trial. In trials where the
1993). It is defined by a mean orientation (dip/dip direction) conditions for block-toppling are not satisfied, the randomly
and the Fisher constant, K, which describes the degree of sampled orientations of discontinuity sets A and B may result in
clustering around the mean value. In terms of analyzing block- one of the following alternative kinematic conditions:
toppling, the use of a 3D distribution for joint orientation data
allows kinematic analysis of the randomly generated disconti- 1. Failure not kinematically possible: sliding cannot occur on set A
nuities according to Section 2.1. However, since the adopted and toppling cannot occur on set B. Therefore, the total
kinetic analysis procedure is two-dimensional (2D), a 2D probability of failure is 0.
representation of the 3D orientation data is needed before 2. Only sliding on joint set A is kinematically possible: friction angle
analysis can be performed. Considering a cross-section perpendi- of set A is less than the dip angle; the dip direction of set A is
cular to the slope face, the difference between the true dip, ctrue, within 7201 of slope dip direction but toppling on set B is not
and apparent dip, capparent, of discontinuities that satisfy the possible.
kinematic conditions for block toppling (i.e. dip directions within 3. Only toppling on set B is kinematically possible: orientation of set
7201 of the dip direction of the slope face) is very small B satisfies requirements for interlayer slip and alignment but
(tan capparent = 0.94tan ctrue). Therefore, to perform kinetic analysis the dip direction of set A prevents sliding. Therefore, the toe
the true dip angles sampled from the Fisher distributions blocks cannot slide.

Fig. 6. Idealized geometry of a rock slope subject to toppling (after Scavia et al., 1990).

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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4. Sliding on set A and toppling on set B occur simultaneously:


friction angle of set A is less than the dip angle; the dip Start
direction of set A is within 7201 of slope dip direction; and all
conditions for toppling on set B are satisfied.
Pass values of H,s,
ts, a, b, and ground water level
Therefore, although block toppling may not be kinematically into sub-procedure
feasible, the slope geometry may still result in a kinematically
unstable condition. To give the user an indication of the likelihood
of these other kinematic conditions existing, the program i= 1
calculates the kinematic probability of each. However, the
Define (x, y) of Toe as (0, 0)
program does not perform the corresponding kinetic analysis.
Hence, it must be emphasized that the total probability of failure BlockCount = 1
calculated by ROCKTOPPLE only represents the total probability of
BlockCount = BlockCount + 1
block-toppling failure and does not account for kinetic stability of
the other potential failure modes (2–4 above). To evaluate the
total probability of slope failure, including these other potential Randomly sample values of Sa and
failure modes, kinetic analysis of each kinematic condition would Sb from probabilistic distributions
need to be undertaken with appropriate techniques. Subsequently,
system reliability methods could be used to calculate the total
failure probability. Calculate coordinates defining
It should be noted that in cases where the geometry of the i th block and store in separate arrays
slope and discontinuities are known with increased certainty (i.e.
an existing slope in which several joint measurements have been
obtained), it may be desirable to treat the discontinuity orienta- Calculate: Wn, K, v1, v2, v3, Xw, y1,
tions as ‘‘fixed’’ input values (accomplished by entering K =0 on y2, y3, Mn, Ln, K, Yk, and, (xcm,ycm),
the ‘‘Analysis Input’’ tab). In this situation, given that the fixed for the ith block and store in an array
discontinuity orientations satisfy kinematic conditions for block-
toppling, the kinematic probability will be 1.0, meaning the total
probability of block toppling of failure will be given by kinetic
probability of failure. In other words, if desired, the user can No Check if block extends
effectively skip the kinematic analysis by considering disconti- beyond the slope limits
i=i+1
nuity orientations as ‘‘fixed’’ inputs.

3.4. Generation of block geometry Yes n = BlockCount

Stop
If the kinematic conditions for block toppling are satisfied, the
next step in the analysis procedure involves generating the geometry
of the n blocks that form the slope. The procedure adopted in Fig. 7. Flow chart outlining procedure to generate random block geometry.

ROCKTOPPLE follows that developed by Scavia et al. (1990). Unlike


the original limit equilibrium procedure, which assumes the rock the corners of each block are computed, and several forces and
blocks are delineated by evenly spaced, perpendicular discontinuity dimensions specific to each block, as defined in Fig. 8, are
sets, this approach is capable of generating blocks delineated by evaluated for use in subsequent limit equilibrium calculations.
non-orthogonal, irregularly spaced joint sets (Fig. 6). In generating This process is continued until the stepped base reaches the upper
the random block geometry, the following assumptions are made boundary of the slope, forming n blocks.
(Scavia et al., 1990):

 the joint sets A and B are considered 100% persistent; 3.5. Kinetic (limit equilibrium) analysis
 the system of blocks sits on a stepped base that represents a
‘‘failure surface’’; The limit equilibrium analysis procedure requires the
 the steps in the failure plane are defined by alternating values calculation of the forces transferred from the uppermost block
Sa and Sb; through to the toe block. These forces are referred to as inter-
 the generated failure surfaces extend from the toe of the slope block forces. Once these forces are determined, the factor of
to the upper surface; and safety of the toe block or group of stable toe blocks can be
 the blocks are long in a direction normal to the cross-section, evaluated. The following two sub-sections describe the calcula-
but are bounded by zero-strength lateral release surfaces such tion procedure for inter-block forces and toe block stability,
that the problem can be analyzed two dimensionally. respectively.

3.5.1. Calculation of inter-block forces


The block generation procedure is summarized in Fig. 7. To Fig. 8 illustrates the position and direction of all forces acting
begin, the ‘‘fixed’’ values of H, cs, and cts, together with the on a typical rock block in a system of toppling blocks. The forces
randomly sampled values of ca and cb of the current Monte Carlo Pn  1 and Pn are what are referred to as inter-block forces.
trial, are passed to the block generation procedure. Then, starting Although equations for calculating the inter-block forces are
from the toe of the slope (0, 0), alternating values of Sa and Sb are available in several rock mechanics and rock engineering texts
sampled from their respective distributions, coordinates defining (e.g. Wyllie and Mah, 2004; Wyllie, 1999), it is often assumed that

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
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joint sets A and B are orthogonal (ct = 0). As this assumption is equal to Pn  1:s. Once the appropriate value of Pn  1 is determined,
rarely valid when values of ca and cb are randomly sampled from all forces acting on the block are resolved in directions
independent probabilistic distributions, these equations were perpendicular and parallel to the base of the block. The normal
reformulated to account for non-orthogonal joint sets before force, Rn, and shear force, Sn, are calculated, respectively, as
being implemented in ROCKTOPPLE. Considering moment and
Rn ¼ Wn cosca  Ksinca
force equilibrium for a typical block (Fig. 8), the revised equations
V2 þ ðV3  V1 þ Pn1  Pn Þsinct
for the force, Pn  1, that is just sufficient to prevent the block from
þðPn  Pn1 Þtanfb cosct ð8Þ
toppling and sliding, are given, respectively, by

Wn Xw þKYw  Pn tanfb Sb  V3 y3 þV1 y1 þ V2 y2 þ Pn Mn Sn ¼ Wn sinca þKcosca þ ðV1  V3  Pn1 þ Pn Þcosct


Pn1:t ¼
Ln þðPn  Pn1 Þtanfb sinct ð9Þ
ð6Þ

Wn ðcosca tanfa  sinca Þ  Kðsinca tanfa þ cosca Þ þ ðV3  V1 Þðcosct þ sinct tanfa Þ  V2 tanfa
Pn1:s ¼ Pn  ð7Þ
ðtanfa þ tanfb Þsinct þð1  tanfa tanfb Þcosct

Fig. 9 summarizes the methodology used to calculate the inter- Subsequently, a check is made to ensure if there is a positive
block forces acting on each block on the slope. Starting at the normal force on the base plane and that sliding does not occur:
uppermost block, the forces Pn  1:t required to prevent toppling Rn 40 and jSn j oRn tan fa ð10Þ
and Pn  1:s required to prevent sliding are calculated using Eqs. (6)
and (7). If the values of Pn  1:t and Pn  1:s are negative, the current If the conditions set out by (10) are not satisfied, toppling cannot
block is considered stable and the force, Pn, transmitted to the occur even if Pn  1:t 4Pn  1:s; thus, Pn  1 is set equal to Pn  1:s.
next block is set to zero. However, if Pn  1:t 4Pn  1:s, the block is on Once the value of Pn  1 is finalized, it is assumed to be the force, Pn,
the point of toppling and Pn  1 is set equal to Pn  1:t. Conversely, if acting on the next block of the slope. The calculation of Pn  1 is
Pn  1:s 4Pn  1:t, the block is on the point of sliding and Pn  1 is set then repeated for the next block and all subsequent blocks in
succession until the force, Pn, acting on each block has been
determined. It is noted that due to kinematic constraints, once the
transition from toppling to sliding occurs, the critical state for all
subsequent blocks is sliding (Wyllie and Mah, 2004).

3.5.2. Analysis of toe block(s)


Following the calculation of inter-block forces, the stability
mode of each block above the toe block is defined as ‘‘sliding’’,
‘‘toppling’’, or ‘‘stable’’. In the case where the block immediately
above the toe block is of the ‘‘sliding’’ mode, the potential failure
mode of the toe block is limited to sliding and the factor of safety
against toe block sliding is considered to be the factor of safety of
the entire system of blocks. In the case where the block
immediately above the toe block is of the ‘‘toppling’’ mode, the
potential failure mode of the toe block can be sliding or toppling
and the critical factor of safety against toe block sliding or
toppling is taken as the factor of the safety system of blocks.
Considering the forces acting on a typical toe block (Fig. 10), the
factor of safety against toe block sliding and toe block toppling are
given, respectively, by
P
Forcesresisting
FS ¼ FStoe block ¼ P
sliding Forcesdriving
½Wn cosca  Ksinca  V2 þ ðV1  Pn Þsinct þ Pn tanfb costanfa
¼
Wn sinca þ Kcosca þ ðV1 þ Pn Þcosct þ Pn tanfb sinct
Rn tanfa
¼ : ð11Þ
Sn

P
Momentsresisting Pn tanfb Sb þWn Xw
FS ¼ FStoe block ¼ P ¼ ð12Þ
toppling Momentsdriving Pn Mn þV1 y1 þ V2 y2 þ KYk
In the case where the block immediately above the toe block is
of the ‘‘stable’’ mode, the factor of safety of the toe block is no
longer representative of the stability of the entire slope system.
Instead, the factor of safety is dictated by the collective ability of
the group of stable blocks at the toe to resist the driving forces
produced by unstable blocks upslope. The factor of safety, in this
case, can be defined as the sum of the resisting forces of each
Fig. 8. Summary of forces acting on a typical rock block. ‘‘stable’’ block divided by the sum of the driving forces for each

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‘‘stable’’ block:
Start
ðRn1 þ Rn2 þ Rn3 þ    Rni Þ tanfa
FS ¼ ð13Þ
Sn1 þ Sn2 þ Sn3 þ    Sni
where i is the number of ‘‘stable’’ blocks at the toe of the slope. i=n
Pn = 0
3.6. Addition of support

As previously mentioned, external forces can be easily ith Block


incorporated into limit equilibrium methods. Hence, the effect
of rock support elements on slope stability can be easily assessed
Calculate Pn-1:t and Pn-1:s
in the block-toppling analysis. The support of slopes susceptible to
block-toppling through the use of rock support elements can be
accomplished in two ways (Wyllie and Wood, 1983): (1) a support
force, T, can be added to the toe block, as shown in Fig. 11a or (2) Pn-1 = MAX (Pn-1:t, Pn-1:s)
the potential toppling blocks can be bolted together to increase
their effective width, as shown in Fig. 11b. Both of these
support methods were incorporated into ROCKTOPPLE under the Calculate Sn and Rn
‘‘Add Support’’ tab shown in Fig. 12. In this tab, the user can
specify the magnitude and orientation of toe block support and
the effective width of the toppling blocks when the blocks are
bolted together. If Rn ≤ 0 or
When toe block support is added to the analysis, it is assumed No Sn > Rn tan b Yes
to be installed at the mid-point of the toe block face inclined at a
user-defined angle, i, from the horizontal (Fig. 11a). Based on the
Pn-1 = Pn-1 Pn-1 = Pn-1:s
mean slope geometry, the optimum orientations, iopt, of the toe
block support to prevent sliding and toppling of the toe block are
given, respectively, as (Goodman and Bray, 1976; Wyllie and
Mah, 2004) Set Pn = Pn-1

ioptjsliding ¼ fa  ca ð14Þ
No If i = 1
ioptjtoppling ¼  ca ð15Þ
i = i-1
In addition to the magnitude and orientation of the support, a Yes
drop-down menu on the tab allows the user to specify whether it
should be considered an active or passive force. If the support Stop
force is applied actively, the revised factors of safety against toe
block toppling and sliding are given respectively, by Fig. 9. Flow chart illustrating procedure to calculate inter-block forces.

Pn tanfb Sb þWn Xw
FStoe block ¼ ð16Þ
toppling Pn Mn þ V1 y1 þV2 y2 þ KYk  TLt
3.7. Calculation of failure probabilities
FStoe block ¼
sliding

fWn cos ca  Ksin ca  V2 þ ðV1  Pn Þsin ct þ Pn tan fb cosct þ Tsinðca þ iÞgtan fa Following the completion of the specified number of Monte
Wn sin ca þKcos ca þ ðV1 þ Pn Þcos ct þ Pn tan fb sin ct  Tcosðca þiÞ Carlo trials, the failure probabilities are calculated and displayed
ð17Þ in the ‘‘Results’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE (Fig. 13). The ‘‘Results’’ tab
provides a detailed summary of the kinematic and kinetic
If it is applied passively, the factors of safety are given by probabilities of failure, the mean and median factor of safety, a
histogram of the factors of safety, and a summary of the applied
Pn tanfb Sb þ Wn Xw þ TLt
FStoe block ¼ ð18Þ rock support.
toppling Pn Mn þ V1 y1 þV2 y2 þ KYk

fWn cosca  Ksinca  V2 þ ðV1  Pn Þsinct þ Pn tanfb cos þ Tsinðca þ iÞgtanfa þTcosðca þ iÞ
FStoeblock ¼ ð19Þ
sliding Wn sinca þKcosca þðV1 þ Pn Þcosct þ Pn tanfb sinct

In the case where the blocks are bolted together, the effective The probability of kinematic failure is given by
width of toppling blocks below the crest is increased. ROCK-
TOPPLE models this condition by increasing the value of Sb Nkinematically feasible
Pf kinematic ¼ ð20Þ
for all blocks below the slope crest by the user-specified factor. Nt
For example, if the spacing of Set B is 2 m and an effective
width of two times the actual block width is specified, the where Nkinematically feasible is the number of trials in which block-
analysis proceeds by assuming the blocks below the crest toppling failure is kinematically feasible and Nt is the total
are 4 m wide. It should be noted that this simplistic approach number of Monte Carlo trials. Similarly, probabilities of the other
does not consider potential failure of the bolts holding the blocks kinematic conditions (as defined in Section 3.3) are calculated by
together. dividing the number of trials in which the conditions occur by Nt.

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Considering that toppling failure involves a system of blocks


that can topple, slide, or remain stable, the kinetic probability of
s failure must be defined in terms of the reliability of the system as
b
Pn a whole. For this system of blocks, however, the conventional
approach of using event tree or fault tree analysis to examine all
Pntanb possible failure paths of the system becomes quite complex and
cumbersome. Recalling that the stability of the toe block
Sb V1 ultimately controls the stability of the entire system of blocks
Mn independent of the behaviour of other blocks in the system,
(xcm,ycm)
K repeatedly calculating the factor of safety of the toe block while
xw varying the input parameters effectively constitutes the simula-
y1 tion approach for analyzing system reliability (Baecher and
Christian, 2003). Thus, the kinetic probability of failure for the
system can be defined in terms of the factor of safety of the toe
block or group of stable toe blocks. Since kinetic failure can occur
t via sliding
Yk
Wn or toppling, the kinetic probability of block-toppling failure is
V2
given by
y2
NFS o 1:toe sliding þNFS o 1:toe toppling
a Pf kineticjkinematic ¼ ð21Þ
Origin Nkinematically feasible

where NFS o I:toe sliding and NFS o I:toe toppling are the number of trials
resulting in a factor of safety less than 1 when the critical failure
Fig. 10. Example of forces acting on a typical toe block. mode of the toe block is sliding and toppling, respectively.

b s

T
Lt

t
a
Origin

Fig. 11. Methods of applying support in ROCKTOPPLE: (a) toe block support and (b) bolting blocks together.

Fig. 12. Screenshot of ‘‘Add Support’’ tab in ROCKTOPPLE.

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Fig. 13. Screenshot of ‘‘Results’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE illustrating typical program output.

Table 1 Section 3.3, are not included in the calculation of the total
Summary of slope characteristics for deterministic example given in Wyllie and probability of block toppling. They are provided merely to inform
Mah (2004).
the user that given the slope geometry and discontinuity
Parameter Deterministic value orientations, instability via other failure modes may be possible.
As mentioned previously, calculation of the total probability of
Overall geometry slope failure would require a separate kinetic analysis of each
Slope height (m) 92.5 unstable kinematic condition via alternate analysis methods and
Slope angle (deg)a 56.6
Top angle (deg) 4
the evaluation of the total failure probability using system
reliability methods.
Discontinuity orientations
Dip of set A (deg)a 30
Dip of set B (deg)a 60
4. Deterministic verification of ROCKTOPPLE
Rock mass characteristics
Spacing of joint set A (m) 1
Spacing of joint set B (m) 10 Since examples of probabilistic block-toppling analysis
Friction angle of set A (deg) 38.15 could not be found in the literature, the probability of failure
Friction angle of set B (deg) 38.15 calculated with ROCKTOPPLE was not compared with previous
Unit weight of rock (kN/m3) 25
results. The output of the program was, however, compared to a
External loads deterministic block-toppling example published in Wyllie and
Seismic coefficient (g) 0
Mah (2004) by considering the input parameters (Table 1) as fixed
Water pressure (%) 0
Rock support n/a
values. Results as shown in Wyllie and Mah (2004) and those
obtained with ROCKTOPPLE are tabulated in Appendix B.
a
The deterministic example assumes the discontinuities and slope face have When comparing results, it is important to note that the
the same dip direction. Therefore dip directions are not required as input methodology used to define the geometry of the blocks varies
parameters. between the published example and ROCKTOPPLE. While the
published example assumes the blocks are rectangular to simplify
calculations (Fig. 14a), ROCKTOPPLE assumes they are trapezoidal
The probability of kinetic failure is considered a conditional (Fig. 14b). As a result, the blocks generated by the program are
probability since kinetic analysis is undertaken only for kinema- taller above the slope crest and shorter below the slope crest
tically feasible geometries. Based on the properties of conditional when compared with rectangular blocks. The largest percent
probabilities, the total probability of block-toppling failure difference in block weight occurs for the uppermost and
is given by the product of (20) and (21) (Glynn, 1979; Park and lowermost blocks. The 4 uppermost blocks vary from 12% to
West, 2001): 59% and the 3 lowermost blocks vary from 13% to 46%; all other
blocks vary by less than 10%.
Pf ¼ Pf kinematic Pf kineticjkinematic ð22Þ
When the parameters listed in Table 1 were considered as fixed
It should be noted that the term Pf kinematic in Eq. (22) refers to input values in ROCKTOPPLE, it was revealed that the discontinuity
the probability of block toppling being kinematically feasible. The orientations did not satisfy the kinematic conditions for
probability of the other kinematic conditions, as defined in block-toppling. Therefore, to obtain kinetic stability results with

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ROCKTOPPLE that could be compared with published values, Differences in the block geometry also resulted in differing
analysis of kinematic stability was temporarily disabled. The inter-block forces and, consequently, differing values of Rn and Sn
results obtained with ROCKTOPPLE, in terms of the stability mode (Fig. 15). According to the results obtained from ROCKTOPPLE, the
of the blocks, are in close agreement with the published results factor of safety according to Eq. (12) is 0.94 compared to 1.00 for
(i.e. a set of stable blocks at the crest, a set of intermediate toppling the published results.
blocks, and a set of sliding blocks at the toe). There was, however, a Although the results obtained from ROCKTOPPLE varied from
notable discrepancy as ROCKTOPPLE predicted only 2 stable blocks the published results due to differing block geometries, similar
at the slope crest compared to 3 in the published example. This behaviour in terms of stability mode and the relative shear and
discrepancy is attributed to the differences in block geometry normal forces was predicted for all blocks. The resulting difference
noted earlier. Since trapezoidal blocks above the slope crest are in the factor of safety, given the same input parameters, under-
taller relative to their rectangular counterparts, their centroid scores the impact of varying the slope geometry on stability and
locations are shifted in the downslope direction relative to their further illustrates the importance of incorporating geometric
base and are, therefore, more likely to topple. uncertainties into the analysis of block toppling.

140 140
130 130
120 120
110 110
100 100
Vertical Distance (m)
Vertical Distance (m)

90 90 15 16
14 15 16 13
14
13
80 12 80 12
11 11
70 10 70 10
60 9 60 9
8 8
50 7 50 7
40 6 40 6
5 5
30 4 30 4
20 3 20 3
10 1 2 10 2
1
0 0
-10 -10
-10
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
120
130
140

-10
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
120
130
140
Horizontal Distance (m) Horizontal Distance (m)

Fig. 14. Geometry of deterministic example problem: (a) rectangular blocks as considered in Wyllie and Mah (2004) and (b) trapezoidal blocks considered by ROCKTOPPLE.

Block
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
0

1000

2000

3000
Force (kN)

4000

5000

6000
Rn: Wyllie & Mah (2004)
7000
Sn: Wyllie & Mah (2004)
8000 Rn: ROCKTOPPLE
Sn: ROCKTOPPLE
9000

Fig. 15. Comparison of shear (Sn) and normal (Rn) forces along base of each block as given in Wyllie and Mah (2004) and as calculated by ROCKTOPPLE.

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5. Probabilistic application of ROCKTOPPLE The results of detailed discontinuity mapping of the rock cut
under consideration are summarized in the stereographic plot in
To demonstrate the use of the probabilistic stability analysis Fig. 16. The discontinuity poles form three distinctive clusters
procedure and computer program ROCKTOPPLE described in the representing three main discontinuity sets denoted as D1– D3.
preceding sections, the stability of a 15 m high granite rock cut Table 2 summarizes the mean orientations of the three
was analyzed, for which sufficient geotechnical data are available discontinuity sets and the corresponding Fisher constants.
and suitable. Plotting the average plane describing the slope face along with

Fig. 16. Equal-area stereographic representation of slope and discontinuity geometry considered probabilistically along with envelopes defining kinematic conditions
required for block toppling.

Table 2
Summary of mean discontinuity orientations and corresponding Fisher constants K.

Set Mean orientation (dip/dip direction) Fisher constant K

D1 751/1341 49
D2 291/0501 46
D3 721/2251 24

Table 3
Summary of input parameters for probabilistic analysis.

Parameter Probabilistic distribution Mean value Standard deviation

Overall geometry
Slope height (m) Fixed value 15 –
Slope angle (deg) Fixed value 70 –
Top angle (deg) Fixed value 2.5 –
Dip direction of slope face (deg) Fixed value 55

Discontinuity orientations
Dip/dip direction of set A (deg) Fisher 29/050 46 (Fisher K)
Dip/dip direction of set B (deg) Fisher 72/225 24 (Fisher K)

Rock mass characteristics


Spacing of joint set A (m) Log normal 0.75 0.15
Spacing of joint set B (m) Log normal 2.5 0.30
Friction angle of set A (deg) Normala 35 2.5
Friction angle of set B (deg) Normala 35 2.5
Unit weight of rock (kN/m3) Fixed value 26 –

External loads
Seismic coefficient (g) Fixed value 0 –
Unit weight of water (kN/m3) Fixed value 9.81 –
Water pressure (%) Log normal 10 5
Rock support Not considered

a
Physically, these parameters cannot have values outside the range of 0–901. Therefore, the normal distributions are truncated at these extremes to prevent sampling of
non-physical values.

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Table 4
Comparison of deterministic and probabilistic results obtained with ROCKTOPPLE

Analysis description Factor of safety

Deterministic 1.23

Probabilities of failure

Mean factor of safety Probability of kinematic failure Probability of kinetic failure Total probability of block toppling failure
Probabilistic 1.17 0.602 0.234 0.141

600 1.0

Critical mode of toe


500 block(s) = toppling
Critcal mode of toe 0.8
block(s) = sliding

Cumulative Probability
400 Cumulative Probability
0.6
Frequency

300

0.4
200

0.2
100

0 0.0

Factor of Safety

Fig. 17. Distribution of factor of safety obtained from ROCKTOPPLE using input values given in Table 3.

the envelopes defining potential base planes and sub-vertical 6. Conclusion and summary
toppling planes (as previously defined in Fig. 2), it is evident that
block-toppling is possible with discontinuity sets D2 and D3 A new probabilistic method for analyzing the stability of rock
forming the base plane (set A) and sub-vertical planes (set B), slopes according to the limit equilibrium method developed by
respectively. Goodman and Bray (1976) has been coded in an Excel spreadsheet
The input parameters required for performing probabilistic using Visual Basic for Applications. A review of the methodology
analysis of the slope are given in Table 3, including the selected and logic used in the spreadsheet-based program has been
probabilistic distributions, mean values, and corresponding presented in this paper. The program that was created has been
standard deviations (or Fisher constants). Analysis results, both shown to calculate the probability of block-toppling failure by
deterministic and probabilistic, are presented in Table 4 and the considering both kinematic and kinetic failure criteria, while
distribution of the factor of safety obtained via probabilistic accounting for:
analysis is shown in Fig. 17.
The deterministic factor of safety of 1.23 would likely be
 irregular and uncertain geometry and shear strength para-
deemed unacceptable for many civil engineering projects due to
meters;
the high consequence of failure. However, it may be considered
 external forces, including horizontal ground accelerations and
sufficient for slopes in some mining operations. The probabilistic
water pressures; and
results obtained by performing 10000 Monte Carlo trials indicate
 rock support in the form of securing the toe block or bolting
the mean factor of safety is lower than the deterministic value
the toppling blocks together.
(1.14) and the probability of failure is 0.141 or 14%. A review of
acceptable failure probabilities for rock slopes by Wang et al.
(2000) indicated that although there is no universally accepted
value, there is agreement that values exceeding 10% are generally The ROCKTOPPLE program has been verified against a
not acceptable. Therefore, it has been shown that by including published deterministic example and utilized to assess a granite
uncertainty in the analysis of block toppling, conclusions regard- rock cut to demonstrate its ability to perform probabilistic
ing the stability of a slope may differ. In this case, the addition of analyses. It is shown that by considering the uncertainty of input
rock support elements or flattening of the slope may be employed values, conclusions regarding the stability of a slope may differ
to reduce the probability of failure. from those drawn from conventional deterministic analyses.

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Fig. 18. Screenshot of ‘‘Analysis Details 1’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE summarizing coordinates defining mean slope geometry and water levels.

Fig. 19. Screenshot of ‘‘Analysis Details 2’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE summarizing outcome of each Monte Carlo trial.

Fig. 20. Screenshot of ‘‘Analysis Details 3’’ tab of ROCKTOPPLE illustrating details of kinetic analysis of first kinematically feasible Monte Carlo trial.

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Table 5
Results of deterministic example as presented in Wyllie and Mah (2004).

n Wn yn Dx/y o tanca? Mn Ln Pn Pn  1:T Pn  1:S Pn  1 Rn Sn Mode


(kN) (m) (m) (m) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN)

16 1000 4.0 2.5 No 4.0 4.0 0.0  832.5  470.7 0.0 866.0 500.0 Stable
15 2500 10.0 1.0 No 5.0 10.0 0.0  457.5  1176.8 0.0 2165.1 1250.0 Stable
14 4000 16.0 0.6 No 11.0 16.0 0.0  82.5  1882.9 0.0 3464.1 2000.0 Stable
13 5500 22.0 0.5 Yes 17.0 22.0 0.0 292.5  2588.9 292.5 4533.4 2457.5 Toppling
12 7000 28.0 0.4 Yes 23.0 28.0 292.5 825.7  3002.5 825.7 5643.3 2966.8 Toppling
11 8500 34.0 0.3 Yes 29.0 34.0 825.7 1556.0  3175.4 1556.0 6787.6 3519.7 Toppling
10 10000 40.0 0.3 Yes 35.0 35.0 1556.0 2826.7  3151.2 2826.7 7662.1 3729.2 Toppling
9 9000 36.0 0.3 Yes 36.0 31.0 2826.7 3922.1  1409.7 3922.1 6933.8 3404.6 Toppling
8 8000 32.0 0.3 Yes 32.0 27.0 3922.1 4594.8 156.4 4594.8 6399.8 3327.4 Toppling
7 7000 28.0 0.4 Yes 28.0 23.0 4594.8 4837.0 1299.8 4837.0 5871.9 3257.8 Toppling
6 6000 24.0 0.4 Yes 24.0 19.0 4837.0 4637.4 2012.7 4637.4 5352.9 3199.5 Toppling
5 5000 20.0 0.5 Yes 20.0 15.0 4637.4 3978.0 2283.9 3978.0 4848.1 3159.4 Toppling
4 4000 16.0 0.6 No 16.0 11.0 3978.0 2825.5 2095.2 2825.5 4369.5 3152.6 Toppling
3 3000 12.0 0.8 No 12.0 7.0 2825.5 1103.0 1413.3 1413.3 3707.3 2912.1 Sliding
2 2000 8.0 1.3 No 8.0 3.0 1413.3  1485.2 471.9 471.9 2471.6 1941.4 Sliding
1 1000 4.0 2.5 No 4.0 4.0 471.9  1287.3 1.2 1.2 1235.8 970.7 Sliding

Table 6
Results of deterministic example obtained with ROCKTOPPLE.

n Wn Xw Mn Ln Pn Pn  1:T Pn  1:S Pn  1 Rn Sn Mode


(kN) (m) (m) (m) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN)

16 1833 1.9 4.9 9.8 0.0  365.6  862.9 0.0 1587.6 916.6 Stable
15 3303 0.7 10.8 15.6 0.0  152.7  1554.5 0.0 2860.1 1651.3 Stable
14 4772  0.7 16.6 21.5 0.0 144.6  2246.2 144.6 4019.0 2241.4 Toppling
13 6241  2.1 22.5 27.4 144.6 549.3  2793.3 549.3 5087.1 2715.9 Toppling
12 7711  3.5 28.4 33.3 549.3 1152.5  3080.2 1152.5 6203.7 3252.1 Toppling
11 9180  5.0 34.3 39.2 1152.5 1940.3  3168.6 1940.3 7331.1 3802.1 Toppling
10 9632  5.2 40.2 36.1 1940.3 3133.2  2593.9 3133.2 7404.9 3623.3 Toppling
9 8641  4.2 37.1 32.1 3133.2 3992.8  934.3 3992.8 6808.3 3461.0 Toppling
8 7639  3.2 33.1 28.1 3992.8 4461.1 396.8 4461.1 6248.0 3351.3 Toppling
7 6637  2.2 29.1 24.0 4461.1 4537.5 1336.7 4537.5 5688.1 3242.2 Toppling
6 5635  1.2 25.0 20.0 4537.5 4221.3 1884.8 4221.3 5128.9 3134.0 Toppling
5 4634  0.1 21.0 16.0 4221.3 3511.0 2040.2 3511.0 4570.8 3027.1 Toppling
4 3632 0.9 17.0 12.0 3511.0 2404.2 1801.5 2404.2 4014.5 2922.6 Toppling
3 2630 2.0 13.0 8.0 2404.2 895.8 1166.3 1166.3 3249.8 2552.8 Sliding
2 1628 3.2 9.0 4.0 1166.3  952.9 400.0 400.0 2011.7 1580.2 Sliding
1 626 4.9 5.0 0.0 400.0 – – – 856.3 713.0 Sliding

Acknowledgments summarizes the (x,y) coordinates defining the mean geometry of


the slope, including the overall slope geometry, the geometry of
The authors wish to acknowledge the individuals who helped each block, and the coordinates defining the water table. ‘‘Analysis
with various aspects of the work presented in this paper: Prof. Details 2’’ summarizes the outcome of each Monte Carlo trial,
Stephen Evans of the Department of Earth and Environmental including the orientations of randomly generated discontinuities,
Sciences at the University of Waterloo for providing the initial the results of kinematic analysis, and the results of kinetic
motivation to develop this tool; Dr. Mikko Jyrkama at the Institute analysis. ‘‘Analysis details 3’’ provides details the kinetic analysis
for Risk Research at the University of Waterloo for advice during of the first kinematically feasible trial, including all randomly
the early stages of coding the analysis procedure, and Dr. Reginald sampled input parameters, the resulting inter-block forces, the
Hammah at Rocscience Inc. for providing assistance with the code stability mode of each block comprising the slope, and a graphic
needed to sample a Fisher distribution. Furthermore, the authors illustrating the randomly generated geometry.
would like to thank Prof. Robert Pine and an anonymous reviewer
for their constructive comments, which improved this paper.
Funding for this work was provided in part by the Natural
Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in the form Appendix B. Detailed results of deterministic example
of an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship held by
B.S.A. Tatone. Tables 5 and 6 provide detailed results of the deterministic
example presented in Section 4. Table 5 illustrates the results as
published in Wyllie and Mah (2004), while Table 6 shows the
Appendix A. ‘‘Analysis details’’ tabs of ROCKTOPPLE results obtained with ROCKTOPPLE. It is noted that instead of
utilizing Eq. (1) to determine if a block’s centre of gravity lies
Figs. 18–20 illustrate the ‘‘Analysis Details’’ tabs of the outside of its base (as in Table 5), Table 6 presents the value of Xw,
ROCKTOPPPLE program. ‘‘Analysis Details 1’’ (Fig. 18) which describes the horizontal distance between a block’s centre

Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014
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Please cite this article as: Tatone, B.S.A., Grasselli, G., ROCKTOPPLE: A spreadsheet-based program for probabilistic block-toppling
analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

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