Date of Award

Fall 2018

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jean Benoit

Second Advisor

Majid Ghayoomi

Third Advisor

Neil Olson


Rockfall is a worldwide problem, claiming lives and causing damage to infrastructure. Common and well-studied in mountainous areas, it nevertheless poses hazards in less rugged terrain as well. In New Hampshire, major instances of rockfall occur infrequently, despite the well-publicized demise of the Old Man in the Mountain. To maintain this level of safety, the Department of Transportation monitors and remediates rock cuts along roadways to minimize the threat of rockfall. However, detailed assessments of rock slope stability, such as 3D structural and stability analyses and 2D rockfall runout modeling, are rare. A major limit on these analyses is the lack of detailed digital data, such as terrestrial lidar, which can be expensive to obtain. This thesis examines the use of readily-available digital data to perform rockfall modeling and also assesses the use of an instrumented “Smart Rock” to obtain measurable data from experimental rockfall events. Digital elevation models and a simple photogrammetry methodology are used to create 2D profiles of rock exposures for rockfall runout modeling. Rockfall models are compared to video analyses and Smart Rock measurements of experimental rockfalls to verify the modeling results. The redesigned “rockfall” Smart Rock is shown to characterize rock motion throughout the rockfall path.