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Rockfall Hazard Analysis Based on the Concept of Functional Safety with Application to the Highway Network in South Korea


Numerous rockfall incidents involving infrastructure damage and loss of life have been reported along roads in mountainous terrain. Previous studies have used quantitative risk assessment approaches to identify the level of rockfall risk. However, appropriate quantitative indicators that are able to describe time-varying risk have not yet been developed. This study aims to develop a rockfall risk mitigation method based on reliability concepts, to classify rockfall data, to model the probability of rockfall occurrence, and to estimate the magnitude of risk reduction through mitigation measures. A synthetic measure of rockfall risk is proposed, which allows to compare directly and quantitatively the rockfall risk for different cut slopes under unmitigated and mitigated conditions. The proposed methodology can estimate the risk reduction obtained using mitigation measures, such as introducing protections barriers, their periodic maintenance, and horizontal coverage ratio. This methodology was applied to 20 years of rockfall data collected by the Korea Expressway Corporation from 1215 artificial cut slopes along the highway network in South Korea. The rockfall frequency was analyzed based on the inventory data, and a rockfall hazard mitigation strategy was demonstrated using the suggested methodology for the case study. It was shown that appropriate mitigation strategies, based on number of protection barriers, interval of periodic maintenance, and horizontal coverage ratio, can be devised to reduce the risk of different artificial slopes below a target failure probability. The approach shown in this study can provide insights into ways of improving overall risk management to prevent losses by rockfall.

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