Geomechanical analysis of unstable rock wedges by means of geostructural and infrared thermography surveys
Keywords:InfraRed Thermography, rock wedge, rock mass, stability analysis, geostructural survey
This research aims to assess the potential of InfraRed Thermography employed for the remote survey of rock masses, with particular reference to the analysis of rock wedges. The application of such technique in the rock mechanics is a relatively new practice, and only few data are available in the international literature. In this paper, we provide an interesting case study aimed at coupling InfraRed Thermography with geostructural surveys for the stability analysis of rock slopes in northeastern Sicily. Chosen rock masses are characterized by intense fracturing and show relevant criticalities from the stability point of view. In particular, the main feature occurring along the slopes is a series of rock wedges driven by two or three discontinuity systems. The analysis of thermograms returned interesting matches between geomechanical features and thermal outputs, demonstrating that fracturing affects the thermal behavior of rock masses. The digital processing of images allowed highlighting anomalies related to specific ranges of temperature, thus individuating not only the rock wedges, but also highly fractured and potentially unstable sectors. Achieved results allow validating the application of such methodology in support of a stability analysis, providing further knowledge in this field of the rock mechanics.
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