Highway Rock Cut Stability Assessment in Rock Masses Not Conducive to Stability Calculations


Ensuring the stability of highway rock cuts requires an evaluation of the structure of the rock. Failures usually initiate and follow pre-existing discontinuities rather than break through intact rock. Rock determined to be loose or with the potential for failure must be removed or restrained in some way. Analytical calculations of potential instability can range from limiting equilibrium analysis to numerical modeling.

In many terrains the discontinuities are oriented in such a way that they contribute to create wedge, planar, or toppling failures. These are then relatively easy to analyze. In other terrains, most notably flat lying sedimentary rock with vertical jointing, the predominant failure mechanism tends to be raveling, which is typically not conducive to calculation.

This paper describes some of the techniques currently used for stability assessment, as well as speculating on future trends in analysis and data acquisition.

Meeting Name

51st Annual Highway Geology Symposium (2000: Aug. 29-Sep. 1, Seattle, WA)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Rock Cuts; Slope Stability; Discontinuities

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2000 Highway Geology Symposium ( HGS ), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2000

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