Numerical simulation in rockfall analysis: A close comparison of 2-D and 3-D DDA

Guangqi Chen, Lu Zheng, Yingbin Zhang, Jian Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate estimation of rockfall trajectory and motion behaviors is essential for rockfall risk assessment and the design and performance evaluation of preventive structures. Numerical simulation using discontinuous deformation analysis (DDA) is effective and helpful in rockfall analysis. Up to now, there have been many reports on application of two-dimensional (2-D) DDA programs. In this paper, the major advantages of rockfall analysis using 2-D and extensions to three-dimensional (3-D) analysis are presented. A practical 3-D DDA code is demonstrated to be capable of simulating free falling, rolling, sliding, and bouncing with high accuracy. Because rockfall trajectories and motion behaviors can be described as combinations of these four types, this demonstration indicates that the implemented code is capable of providing reliable rockfall analysis. Finally, specific tests are conducted to compare 2-D and 3-D DDA rockfall analysis in predicting trajectory and dynamic behavior. The results indicate that 3-D DDA simulations are more appropriate for rough tree-laden inclined slopes in providing detailed spatial distribution, whereas 2-D DDA simulations have better efficiency for slopes dominated by valleys and ravines. These results can help in selecting the appropriate DDA simulation for rockfall analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-541
Number of pages15
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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