Crack propagations on the rock face at glacier point of the yosemite national park after the 1999 rockfall

Kam Tim Chau, P. Lin

Research output: Journal article publicationConference articleAcademic researchpeer-review


2011. This study applies finite element analysis to examine the mechanism of crack propagations observed at the Glacier Point of the Yosemite National Park following the June 13, 1999 rockfall event. Extensive crack propagations were observed on a rectangular area of about 18 m by 23 m of rock exfoliation sheet on a rock face about 550 m above the Yosemite Valley 54 days following the rockfall by helicopter flights and by photographs taken by from the valley. This paper models the crack pattern on the hook-shaped rock sheet by using a plane stress analysis subjected to various ratios of vertical to horizontal strain increments. The present finite element analysis uses a code called RFPA that adopts a reduced modulus approach to model the damage process of rock. A mesh of 160 by 160 elements was used to model a rock face of about 35 m by 35 m, and a Weibull distribution is used to model the heterogeneity of the rock face. We found that when the vertical to horizontal strain ratio is smaller than one, the crack pattern closely resembles that observed at the Glacier Point. Thus, the present paper provides a plausible mechanism for the observed crack propagation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalSpringer Series in Geomechanics and Geoengineering
Issue number203129
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Event9th International Workshop on Bifurcation and Degradation in Geomaterials, IWBDG 2011 - Porquerolles, France
Duration: 23 May 201126 May 2011


  • Damage
  • Finite element analysis
  • Progressive crack propagation
  • Rockfall
  • Yosemite national park

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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