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Mid-America Transportation Center

Ground-based Interferometric Radar for Rockfall Hazard Monitoring

Final Report
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Researchers

  • Principal Investigator: Brent Rosenblad (rosenbladb@missouri.edu 573-884-3736)
  • Project Status
    Complete
    About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    Rockfall events along transportation corridors are a major public safety hazard and can result in significant economic costs due to traffic delays and road repairs. This project will study the potential for applying ground-based interferometric radar (GBIR) for rockslope hazard monitoring. GBIR is an emerging remote sensing technology that can be used to rapidly scan large areas at different times and detect very small (sub-mm) movements of the surface. There is great potential for GBIR to be used for rockslope monitoring applications; however, there is a need to better understand the capabilities and limitations of GBIR for this application.
    Research Objective
    The research objective of this project is to understand and quantify the capabilities and limitations of GBIR for rockfall monitoring applications. To meet this objective, a controlled field study will be performed where rock masses of various sizes will be displaced by minute amounts (sub-mm to mm) and remotely monitored using GBIR at offset distances from tens of meters to hundreds of meters. The detection limits of GBIR in terms of rock size and offset distance will be studied. Signal processing strategies to improve detection thresholds will also be investigated. The work supported by this grant will be a part of a larger study supported by the Colorado Department of Transportation involving a yearlong study of an active rockfall site in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado.
    Potential Benefits
    Ground-based interferometric radar is a promising technology for rockfall applications. As a research tool, GBIR can be used to better understand how rockslopes move seasonably, and identify sites where future rockfall events are likely. There is also the potential for GBIR to be used as an early warning system by continuously monitoring high risk sites and providing a warning of impending large-scale movements. For these potential applications to be realized, studies should be performed under realistic and controlled conditions to quantify equipment capabilities.
    Abstract
    Rockfall events along transportation corridors are a major public safety hazard and can result in significant economic costs due to traffic delays and road repairs. Transportation agencies are in need of innovative technologies that can help them effectively deal with rockfall hazards. Ground-based interferometric radar (GBIR) is an emerging remote-sensing technology that can be used to scan large structures or natural sites and detect sub-millimeter scale surface deformations. The work supported by this grant will supplement a larger research project funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation to study the implementation and application of GBIR for rockfall hazard monitoring. The larger project will include: (1) full-scale monitoring of an active rockfall site in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado and (2) a controlled field study monitoring rock movements. The study supported by this grant will focus on quantifying the detection limits of GBIR for rock fall monitoring. A controlled study will be performed in the field where rocks of various sizes and located over a range of target distances will be moved and measured. The GBIR will be used to scan the site and study the accuracy of the GBIR measurement, as well as the detection limits of the technology.
    Project Amount
    $ $22,068