Fragmentation of rocks upon impact in the context of rockfall

Dr Davide E. Guccione

Rock fragmentation is frequently observed during rockfalls events, but it is rarely considered in rockfall analysis and rockfall protection system design because it is a complex phenomenon, influenced by many factors that are not very well understood. Only limited experimental and numerical studies exist on fragmentation and the current status of knowledge about fragmentation does not allow it to be modelled in a predictive manner. The presentation will be focus on an extensive fragmentation testing conducted to obtain high quality fragmentation data that addresses this knowledge gap and provides a foundation for future fragmentation research. The campaign was conducted by using artificial rock blocks on specifically-designed apparatus built to study quantitatively the complex phenomenon of fragmentation of rocks upon impact. Multiple high-speed cameras are used to capture and reconstruct the impact and 3D trajectories of flying fragments. A significant contribution of this research to rockfall engineering was the development and validation of a novel model that can reliably predict the impact survival probability of brittle homogenous spheres, using data from standard quasistatic UCS and indirect tensile laboratory tests, with the potential for extension to irregular shapes and natural rock materials.


Dr Davide E. Guccione Research Associate, University of Newcastle

Davide hold a Master and a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Parma in Italy and a Diploma of Mining and Geoenvironmental Qualified Industrial Technician (Caltanissetta, Italy). He recently completed his PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Newcastle entitled “An experimental investigation of fragmentation occurrence and outcome in the context of rockfall”. During his PhD he won the AGS NSW Research Award in 2020. He is currently a Research Associate at University of Newcastle. He also works as casual academic at the same University delivering tutoring within four courses in the Geomechanics field.

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