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A New Three-Dimensional Rockfall Trajectory Simulator for Open-Pit Mines
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Background. Rockfall hazards on open-pit highwalls are composed of two major associated risks, the chance of the rockfall itself and the area impacted by falling rock blocks or the runout zone. Rockfall trajectory assessment is essential for estimating consequences of such incidents. Several simulation techniques in the form of computer programs have been developed for this purpose. They are used to obtain the required basis for protection designs and safety considerations in rockfall prone areas.Innovations. In this thesis, a new three-dimensional analytical program was developed for rockfall trajectory simulation and estimating runout zones. This program is designed to effectively read and visualize topographies composed of large numbers of mesh elements. It utilizes special algorithms to enable fast and effective simulations of high-resolution terrain models. The output generated by this program includes rockfall trajectories providing bounce heights, rockfall velocities and impact locations for safety designs and rock trace maps that identify hazardous zones. Both may be used by operations management to designate safe working stations in open-pit mines.Results. The developed program was calibrated using small-scale bounce tests where a detailed study was conducted on the efficiency of the program to accurately simulate bounce heights and lengths. Moreover, the performance of the program was examined in an actual open-pit mine to highlight specific capabilities of incorporated algorithms for trajectory modeling and processing high-resolution terrain models. Based on results from the case study, the program’s modeling showed acceptable correspondence to experimental results as well as reliable performance in trajectory simulation of rockfalls in terms of time-effective analysis and reasonable outcome given assumptions and input parameters.