UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Seismic detection of rockfalls on railway lines Nedilko, Bohdan


Railway operators mitigate the risk of derailments caused by hazardous rocks falling onto the track by installing slide detector fences (SDF). These consist of electrical sensing wires strung on poles located uphill of the track; falling rocks snap these wires and trigger an alarm. Rocks of non-threatening size and migrating animals frequently break the wires causing prolonged false alarms and delaying rail traffic until the SDF is manually repaired, often in a hazardous environment. This thesis is concerned with the development of a prototype of the autonomous Seismic Rockfall Detection System (SRFDS) as a potential replacement for the SDF. Analysis and classification of natural and anthropogenic seismic signals which have been observed at the SRFDS field installations, is presented. A method for identification of hazardous rocks (>0.028 m³) using an empirical peak ground velocity attenuation model is outlined. Pattern recognition techniques which are based on cross-correlation and on variations in the short-term / long term averages of the ground vibrations are introduced for rail traffic identification and rockfall detection. The techniques allow the SRFDS to eliminate false activations by rail traffic, report hazardous rocks with minimum (< 3 s) delay, and rearm automatically when a false alarm is revealed. Performance of the SRFDS field installations was modeled using continuous seismic data recorded at two locations where the SRFDS and the SDF operate in parallel. The SRFDS computer model detected all major rock slides; it was significantly less likely than the SDF to be triggered by animal migration, but may be susceptible to thermal noise in very specific situations. A comparison of the actual number of the train delays caused by the existing SDF with those of the SRFDS computer model, shows that the use of the SRFDS will reduce the average number of delayed trains. The actual reduction of the number of delayed trains is between 3 and 8 times, depending on the location. Train delays caused by false triggers induced by construction activities and track maintenance could still exist; however, they can be eliminated by the adoption of the appropriate track management procedures.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International