Most of the recent research on rockfall and the development of protective systems, such as flexible rockfall barriers, have been focused on medium to high levels of impacting energy. However, in many regions of the world, the rockfall hazard involves low levels of energy. This is particularly the case in New South Wales, Australia, because of the nature of the geological environments. The state Road and Traffic Authority (RTA) has designed various types of rockfall barriers, including some of low capacity, i.e. 35 kJ. The latter were tested indoors using a pendulum equipped with an automatic block release mechanism triggered by an optical beam. Another three systems were also tested, including two products designed by rockfall specialised companies and one modification of the initial design of the RTA. The research focused on the influence of the system’s stiffness on the transmission of load to components of the barrier such as posts and cables. Not surprisingly, the more compliant the system, the less loaded the cables and posts. It was also found that removing the intermediate cables and placing the mesh downslope could reduce the stiffness of the system designed by the RTA. The paper concludes with some multi-scale considerations on the capacity of a barrier to absorb the energy based on experimental evidence.
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering Vol. 46, Issue 4, p. 701-712