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Rock Slope Engineering

The Geology and Mathematics of Rock Face Stability

and Rockfall Barrier Design

Published by Russet Publishing

£76.00 for pre-order with free postage world-wide

This book is written for graduate civil engineers, engineering geologists, and geologists working in the highways, civil and mineral extraction industries. It will also be useful for undergraduates studying those professions.

The thing that makes rock slope and rock face engineering such a difficult subject to present is that it involves a disparate range of scientific subjects.

Firstly, there is geology, which is in itself an extremely wide subject. This means that the author has had to extract only those geotechnical aspects relevant to rock face stability. Secondly, there is the mathematices of static forces as experienced in potentially unstable structures. Thirdly, there is the subject of acceleration and dynamic forces generated by moving rocks and rock masses once instability has developed; the author has had to synthesise the relevant equations and procedures for the calculation of those forces. Finally, there is the wide field of equipment and procedures to achieve stabilisation and retention of moving rock masses.


This important new book will soon be available for purchase.

Pre-order with a 20% discount.

A note from the author: Dr Roberts.

The need for this book is exemplified by the generous sponsorship of Texion Geosynthetics N.V. of Belgium, whose Managing Director, Dhr. Frans De Meerleer, being involved commercially in the field of rock restraint, suggested that I should write it. I extend to him and his company many thanks for the opportunity to do so. He has been a leader in the field for many years, and his opinion is greatly respected. It can only be hoped that this work will meet his industry's needs, and will gain the approval of the many excellent engineers working in this field.

It is impossible to understand rock slope engineering unless you first know and understand those aspects of geology that control the way that rocks and rock masses fail and move. As may be expected, different rock types are formed differently and contain different types of discontinuities. Unlike soil slopes, which fail within the mass of the soil, rocks fail along their discontinuities. Thus it is vital to know what kind of discontinuities different types of rocks will contain, and to have an understanding of their geological mode of formation. This allows the engineer to understand, and even forecast, the spatial distribution of discontinuities within any given rock mass. The first part of this book offers a real grounding in this fundamental knowledge, using which you can later build an understanding of the stresses within and along those discontinuities. That is very different from another book on sale, which has a small section of a small chapter - less than one page - dedicated to geology!

Secondly, before you can progress to even thinking about mathematics, you have to be aware of what different physical conditions can and do exist along the various discontiuities, how they formed, and how to be able to expect and identify them in the field. For example, a bedding discontinuity will not have a rotted surface, whereas the margin of an intruded dyke or sill may well have - the two having very different failure modes.

Rather than produce a limited number of artificial 'set piece' failure models, or bury the subject in theory as other books can do, I have addressed the fundamental building blocks of the simple mathematics needed to cope with every situation that you are likely to come across. In this book there are no assumptions that will lead you on until that disappointing moment when you say, "Oh, but what I have in the field doesn't look like the model supplied in the book. Now I'm stuck!" It is so disappointing when that happens in a text book. So, this book will ground you in the basics of how to evaluate the forces being imposed on discontinuities, and ultimately how to mathematically analyse them based on your observations in the field. Taken a step at a time, like this, the mathematics are quite simple - no integration, and no differentiation.

Having looked at the properties of discontinuities thoroughly, the book moves on to teach about the different types of geometrical failure mass that can be found and that need analysing. By keeping the approach generic rather than specific, the engineer who studies this book will be able to flexibly approach any problem, utilising  simple frictional, cohesive and force elements to come to a solution, and ultimately a stabilising design.

And, not handled in some other books on rock failures, this book goes on to cover the dynamics of moving rocks, which is important in terms of catching and controlling sliding, rolling, and falling rocks. As well as many worked examples, the book has a handy formula section, allowing the engineer quick access to the formulae needed for dynamic analyses. But, again, following the principles of this book, the author has not gone for monolithic examples; rather, he has built in unitary solutions that the engineer can combine as needed to analyse any complex combination of geometries and forces that he or she may need to solve and control, through true understanding.

Finally, since control is the essence of rock slope stability, there is a thorough section on the practical use of steel pins, rock bolts, rock anchors, catching nets, diversion nets, and so on, with practical illustrated worked examples. This is topped off with calculations to show how to assess the effect of earthquake vibrations on rock slope discontinuties and the rock masses loading them.

All in all, this is the only rock instability book that you should ever need. It contains all that you need to know, and a great deal more, to handle everything from a single rock to a major slope. It combines experience with the ability to give genuine understanding of the materials, forces, and dynamics of rock movement in simplified calculations using simple forces and resistances.

I borrowed very little material from other sources, or their calculation formulae. This new, original book was created from first principles, thought out and written from scratch, with nearly all the diagrams original artwork. That is why you can see a certain hand-drawn effect. Not drawn on computer packages to look fancy, but to look real. I know you will enjoy reading this book, and will find it useful. I only wish it had been available when I was a young man fresh out of university, struggling to deal with cuttings and other rock excavations without such a reference. My experience came the hard way, but at least this book is here for you now. That's something. 🙂

I wish you good luck.

From LULU in ePub (Apple eBook) format £3.99 or less.

From Apple Bookstore iTunes (Apple eBook) format

From AMAZON in Kindle format.

Currently only available for pre-order in printed form (iBook soon)

In paperback form it is 300 pages of A5+ size

Later it will cost £96.00 with free delivery worldwide.

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Pre-order for only £76.00 with free delivery worldwide.


About the Book

The first thing you will need to do to appreciate the sheer scale of the information contained in this book, is to look at the Table of Contents below. Then ask yourself where else could you find all of this information in a single, modern book, with fully worked examples, and with a practical guide to actual remedial equipment and materials used. Yet, despite the complexity of the topics covered, the author has concentrated on using the simplest analyses, and always uses worked examples, so that the design engineer can be confident he/she has the proper units and has completed his/her calculations correctly.

The wide ranging nature of this book means that if you could have only one book on the subject, then this would have to be it. It will be your go-to reference book and mentor.

If you want to be able to say that you know rock face and rock slope stability, then all you have to do is read this book from beginning to end and then put it on your bookshelf where you can find it easily. That's all.

The objective of this book is to be comprehensive and thorough, starting with the geological knowledge necessary to understand the modes of discontinuity failure in different rock types. This is covered in Chapters 1 - 8. The book is comprehensive in that it does not leave out any aspect of the field work that an engineer will need to solve field problems. It deals with the recognition of different rock types, their outcrop patterns, and their jointing patterns. This part of the book is not just a general geology section; it is specifically tailored to the subject of rock slope stability, so that all of the information it contains is pertinent and relevant to the subject. The words constantly explain which geological features cause which slope stability problems, and why.

Following this is the key chapter of the book - Chapter 9, which goes through the mathematics of rock face and rock slope instability in the majority of forms that the user will come across as a working highway engineer or geotechnical engineer.

The fundamental principle of this book is to isolate and quantify the small modular units that either comprise individual potential failures in their own right, or else can form a component of a larger failure scenario. By teaching the modular units, the mathematics is simplified, and the user can decide which elements he or she desires to use in order to solve any potential problem. The comprehensive nature of the material covered is exemplified by the inclusion of all the necessary dynamic physics of moving rocks and rock masses, not just static analysis, as well as the potential effects on rock slopes caused by earthquakes or other ground-transported vibrations.

The book does not cover major slip circle type failures through rock masses (as opposed to failures along discontinuities) for two reasons. Firstly, because such failures come into the realm of soil failures and the techniques for analysing these are the same. Secondly, because analysing major failures in large mining pits and huge rock excavations is a specialist field that will not be (or should not be) tackled by the non-specialist for whom this book is intended.

Chapters 10 - 14 cover the design of retaining, or stabilisation structures for many different potentially unstable conditions ranging from individual falling rocks to mass sliding.

The book closes with four interesting Appendices. Whenever you are working in this field, then Appendix 1 contains the equations that you will need. Appendices 2 to 4 will be interesting to the reader and some may find them useful.


1.     Introduction

2.     Formation of the Solar System and the Earth

3.     Composition of the planet Earth and its rocks

4.     Fundamental Rock Types

          4.1     Igneous Intrusive Rocks

          4.2     Igneous Extrusive Rocks

          4.3     Sedimentary Rocks

          4.4     Metamorphic Rocks

5.     Instability in Igneous Intrusive and Extrusive Rocks

          5.1     Plutonic Intrusive Rocks

          5.2     Concordant Intrusive Rocks

          5.3     Discordant Intrusive Rocks

          5.4     Extrusive Volcanic Lava Flows and Ash Rocks

6.     Instability in Sedimentary Rocks

7.     Instability in Metamorphic Rocks

8.     Dip and Outcrop Recognition

9.     The Mathematics of Rock Slope Instability

          9.1     The principles of acquisition, interpretation, and utilisation of

                    field and laboratory test data, as guided by Eurocode 7.

          9.2     Considerations of variability in geotechnical rock data.

          9.3     Problems associated with the practical applicability of modern

                    design codes such as Eurocode 7, to rockfall engineering and

                    data analysis and design

          9.4     The representation of field data on stereo-net plots

          9.5     Kinematically possible failure mode

          9.6     Different types of rock movement

          9.7     The mathematics of planar sliding

          9.8     HOW NOT TO DO IT!

                    Problems associated with textbook examples

          9.9     HOW TO DO IT!

                    The correct, simplified, modular approach

          9.10     Dynamic behaviour of rock blocks

          9.11     Some critical equations

          9.12     Seismic forces and blasting

          9.13     Mathematics of wedge sliding

                         9.13.1     Determination of the dimension of the wedge by

                                        field measurement and calculation

                         9.13.2     Specification of the various physical properties of the wedge and its

                                        potential sliding plane's interfaces

                         9.13.3     Simple global analysis

                         9.13.4     Wedge 'partition method' with rigid response

                         9.13.5     Wedge 'partition method' with deformable response

          9.14     Concepts of shared stress and cumulative strain on rock discontinuities

          9.15     Mathematics of toppling rocks

                         9.15.1     Rocks standing alone

                         9.15.2     Rocks subject to external forces

                         9.15.3     The toppling of multiple rock groups

          9.16     Mathematics of rolling rocks

          9.17     Mathematics of falling rocks

          9.18     Mathematics of bouncing rocks

          9.19     Mathematics and principles of impact absorption

          9.20     Seismic activity and its effects

10.     Description of the main categories of restraint structure: Types A, B, C, & D

11.     Type A. Non-intervention designs

          11.1     Stable outcome

          11.2     Unstable outcome

12.     Type B. Specific action intervention designs

          12.1     Rock pins

          12.2     Rock anchors

          12.3     Hawsers

          12.4     Meshes and nets

          12.5     Sprayed concrete

          12.6     Relocating rocks

13.     Type C. General passive intervention designs

          13.1     Wire fence barriers

          13.2     Concrete and block wall barriers

          13.3     Free-standing granular barriers

          13.4     Reinforced soils barriers

          13.5     Gabion barriers

          13.6     Lateral diversion structures

          13.7     Vertical diversion structures

          13.8     Rock guidance nets

          13.9     Catchment ditches

14.     Type D. Remote intervention designs

          14.1     Reducing water pressure

          14.2     Reducing water ingress

          14.3     Relocating affected structures

References,          Bibliography,          Geology Glossary,          Physics Glossary

Appendix 1 Essential Equations

Appendix 2 The use of the Roberts instability recording and hazard classification system

Appendix 3 References to rock classification systems

Appendix 4 Using a digital camera for recording site data and preparing approximate site plans



A table showing the geological periods , mountain buildiing, evolution, and climate for the last 543 million years.
A daigram showing the cooling joints and metamorphic margins of a horizontal sill intrusion.
Four photographs of hexagonal jointing patterns in an intrusive sill.
A diagram showing the presentation of granite joints in a highway cutting.
A diagram showing instability modes for a sloping intrusive sill.
A photograph of highly weathered, steeply dipping, frequently bedded nodular limestone.
A photograph of a horizontally bedded sandstone butte in Colorado, USA.
A diagram showing the effects of weathering on a concordantly intruded sill.
A diagram showing bedding outcrops on a contour plan.
A diagram showing bedding outcrops in relation to topography.
Comparative logic diagram for civil compared with geotechnical structures.
A diagram showing a stereonet plot of a discontinuity outcrop on a slope.
A diagram showing a stereonet plot of a slab failure on a steep slope.
A diagram showing a stereonet plot of a steep wedge.
Diagram of a block failure on a steep rock face.
Diagram of hydraulic pressures on different discontiuities on a steep rock face.
Diagram of forces on a rock block acting along a dipping rock surface.
Diagram of shear force acting on a rock pin.
Forces in a rock bolt securing a rock block on a dipping rock surface.
A diagram of restraining forces needed to secure a rock wedge in a steep rock face.
Diagram of rocks sliding down into restraining netting over a highway.
Seismic forces on a rock wedge on a sloping rock surface.
Diagram of forces acting on a two-surface wedge in a steep rock face.
A diagram of forces acting on a dipping rock wedge within a sloping rock face.
A detailed diagram of the forces acting on a sloping rock wedge in a steeply dipping rock face.
A diagram of a block of rock leaning on another.
A diagram of the forces involved in a rock block leaning on another.
A diagram of multiple block movement.
A diagram of the moments of rotation of different shaped rolling rocks.
A diagrammatic cross section of multiple rock anchors.
A diagram showing the elements of a rock restraint net.
A table of energy level calssification for rock retaining structures.
A table of energy absorption capabilities of different net geometries.
A cross-section diagram of a reinforced soil barrier for restraining falling rocks.
A graph of impact forces resisted by varying reinforced soil cross section barriers.
A graph showing the determination of the apparent density (γg) of a filled gabion, given the density (γs) of the fill material, and the porosity (n).
Photograph of a passive gabion rock barrier on a European Alpine mountain road.

Would you like to have all the knowledge that's in these diagrams, as well as in the other 180 diagrams and illustrations in my book?

If so, just buy it!

The front cover image of the geotechnical book entitled
Photograph and diagram of rounded weathered granite.

Rock Slope Engineering

Peter Roberts

Rock Face Stability

Rock Mechanics

Reinforced Soil


Each of these subjects stems from a separate discipline  - geology, mathematics, statics, dynamics, mechanical and materials engineering. Each is sifted and presented in this book, so that the reader can learn and develop a true understanding of the origins, processes, prevention and remediation of rock slope and rock face instability.

You can see the full contents list, and some of the book's diagrams, by scrolling down below. "Try before you buy".

ISBN 978-1-910537-19-0