Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Manjriker Gunaratne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andres E. Tejada-Martinez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kruse, Ph.D.


Blasting, Crack propagation, Remote sensing, Stress wave


Rock slope failures leading to rock falls and rock slides are caused by a multitude of factors, including seismic activity, weathering, frost wedging, groundwater and thermal stressing. Although these causes are generally attributed as separate causes, some of them will often act together to cause rock slope failures. In this work, two of the above factors, seepage of water through cracks and crack propagation due to the after effects of blasting are considered. Their combined impact on the development of rock falls and rock slides is modeled on ANSYS workbench using the Bingham Canyon mine slope failure of 2013 as a case study. Crack path modeling and slope stability analysis are used to show how a combination of crack propagation and seepage of water can lead to weakening of rock slopes and ultimate failure. Based on the work presented here, a simple approach for modeling the development of rock falls and rock slides due to crack propagation and seepage forces is proposed. It is shown how the information from remote sensing images can be used to develop crack propagation paths. The complete scope of this method involves demonstrating the combination of basic remote sensing techniques combined with numerical modeling on ANSYS workbench.