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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/cageo

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.

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

analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

ARTICLE IN PRESS

2 B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]]

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

analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

ARTICLE IN PRESS

B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 3

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).

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

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

analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

ARTICLE IN PRESS

4 B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]]

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

number of trials (Nummtrials) as defined

by user (except spacing)

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

Generate random

block geometry

Perform limit

equilibrium analysis

Yes No

If FS > 1

Stable Count +1 Unstable Count +1

ini = ini + 1 N

No

ini = Num Trials?

Yes

Pkinematic, Pf kinetic|kimematic, and Pf

Stop

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

ARTICLE IN PRESS

B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 5

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.

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

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

ARTICLE IN PRESS

6 B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]]

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

analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

ARTICLE IN PRESS

B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 7

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.

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.

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.

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

analysis. Computers and Geosciences (2009), doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2009.04.014

ARTICLE IN PRESS

8 B.S.A. Tatone, G. Grasselli / Computers & Geosciences ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]]

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

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).

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

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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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.

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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.

D1 751/1341 49

D2 291/0501 46

D3 721/2251 24

Table 3

Summary of input parameters for probabilistic analysis.

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)

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

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

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).

(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.

(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

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

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of mass and its lowermost corner. Negative values of Xw indicate Muralha, J., 2003. Parameter variability in the toppling stability of rock blocks. In:

the centre of gravity lies outside the block’s base. Proceedings of the 10th Conference of the International Society for Rock

Mechanic, Technology Road Map for Rock Mechanics, Johannesburg, South

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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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