Identification of potential rockfall sources using UAV-derived point cloud

D. S. N. A. Albarelli*, O. C. Mavrouli, P. Nyktas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
99 Downloads (Pure)


Recent advances in remote sensing techniques and computer algorithms allow accurate, abundant, and high-resolution geometric information retrieval for rock mass characterization from 3D point clouds. The automatic application of the extracted information for local scale rockfall susceptibility assessment, where discontinuities characteristics play a major role in rocky slope stability, requires step by step logical procedures. This paper presents a novel methodology to use the extracted discontinuity set characteristics for a local scale rockfall susceptibility assessment, tailored for Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) data acquisition. The method consists of 4 steps: (i) 3D slope model reconstruction using UAV digital photogrammetry, (ii) automatic characterization of discontinuity sets, (iii) slope stability analysis, and (iv) susceptibility assessment using a new Rockfall Susceptibility Index. The proposed method was applied to a road cut rocky slope in a mountainous area of the Samaria National Park, in Crete Island, Greece. Visual validation indicates that the areas of higher and moderate rockfall susceptibility on the 3D model of the rocky slope are adjacent to rockfall source areas marked by the presence of fallen blocks on the foot of the slope. The proposed methodological workflow presents novelties related to the use of point clouds for the estimation of the Rock Quality Designation (RQD) index, the visualization of discontinuity set spacing, the evaluation of the persistence and the Slope Mass Rating (SMR) index, as well as the incorporation of the persistence of overhangs into the rockfall susceptibility assessment and visualization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6539-6561
Number of pages23
JournalBulletin of engineering geology and the environment
Issue number8
Early online date5 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021


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