PacTrans: The Long-Term Effect of Earthquakes: Using Geospatial Solutions to Evaluate Heightened Rockfall Activity on Critical Lifelines

AIDC project number:


Project Lead:

Margaret Darrow, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Project Co-Is:

Ben Leshchinsky, Oregon State University

Michael Olsen, Oregon State University

Joseph Wartman, University of Washington

  • Start Date: Jan 1, 0001
  • End Date: Jan 1, 0001

Project Summary

This project seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) What was the “baseline” rockfall activity at the study sites, and how did this vary (if at all) with fluctuations in local climate conditions?; (2) What are the mechanisms and factors that govern rockfall both during and after the event; how, if at all, do these vary from the pre-earthquake activity?; (3) How soon after the earthquake does rockfall activity and magnitude return to baseline conditions?; and (4) How is this influenced by short-term local weather conditions during this period of “recovery”? Answering these questions is critical for transportation agencies to plan for and allocate resources optimally to address maintenance needs for rock debris removal and slope mitigation, thus ensuring efficient mobility of the transportation network. In cases where rockfall occurs in mountainous terrain along highways, road closure means several hours of delay as motorists must take much longer alternate routes given the limited options available in these areas. Answers to these questions also will enable the development of practice-oriented seismic rockfall stability guidelines and predictive tools.