Date of Award

Winter 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jean Benoît

Second Advisor

Barry K Fussell

Third Advisor

Andy W Take


This thesis presents the design, development and testing of the fully autonomous “Smart Rock” sensor packages for a variety of geotechnical purposes where motion tracking is needed such as in the study of landslides, debris flows and rockfalls. These “Smart Rock” devices are sufficiently small to be included in debris flows in order to provide valuable data from the particle perspective inside the flow for improving of existing predictive models and software and developing our understanding of landslide mechanisms.

Three versions of the “Smart Rocks” have been designed and assembled as part of this research: Standard, Miniature and High-Capacity. Each version is optimally constructed for a specific application. The High Capacity version is primarily designed for studying rockfalls, while the other two are for use in soils.

The “Smart Rock” devices were tested through a series of tests which included laboratory experiments at University of New Hampshire and large-scale experiments at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada in a flume facility for studying landslide induced tsunamis. The “Smart Rocks” were able to show different behavior patterns depending on the varying conditions in the runout zone, surrounding particle sizes and source volumes of the particles.