Teaching information and download centre


Teaching information and download centre

Computational methods in engineering geology


BOKU 872.006 UE2 SS2019 2018 2017 2016

Martin Mergili and Christian Zangerl

In engineering geology, computer models are often employed to analyze or to predict the stability of a given slope, or the propagation of landslide processes. Computer models may assist in assessing the current state and in anticipating the occurrence and characteristics of possible future processes. Model results may represent a basis for risk management. This course introduces to the key aspects of computer modelling in engineering geology, with a strong focus on landslide processes.

The course largely follows a concept of learning by doing. The various aspects of modelling are elaborated by introducing step-by-step solutions of selected real-world examples. Even though the course is coupled to specific software, it introduces general skills which can be applied with various tools. It also attempts to convey a feeling for which methods are appropriate for which types of tasks. At the end of the course the participants will

  • know some relevant software packages for modelling of mass movements and their scope of application;
  • be able to apply computer models in an independent and responsible way;
  • know about the possibilities to develop their own model applications;
  • be able to design simple model applications by themselves;
  • be able to critically evaluate model results.

Some basic geotechnical knowledge and computational skills are expected from the participants.

Date and time
Teaching method
Presentations and tasks
01 02
Guided training

GIS-supported landslide release modelling

The stability of slopes - i.e. their susceptibility to the release of landslides - is essential for engineering as well as for spatial planning. Depending on the purpose and the scale of interest, various methods have been developed to spatially analyze landslide susceptibility. In this lesson wou will

  • get introduced to some fundamental concepts with regard to models
  • learn about possible methods to analyze landslide susceptibility
  • write your very first modelling tool by yourself
  • enrich your tool with functionalities for the treatment of uncertainties as well as automatic validation and visualization
Guided training

GIS-supported mass flow modelling

The hazards and risks related to rapid landslides such as debris flows or rock avalanches strongly depend on their velocity, energy, travel distance, and impact area. Spatial modelling techniques are employed to reconstruct observed events or, more importantly, to anticipate the propagation of possible future events. In this lesson you will

  • learn about strategies for modelling the propagation of mass flows
  • get introduced to the open source model application r.avaflow
  • perform basic modelling tasks with this software tool

The training data, tools, and scripts can be obtained directly from the application web site.

Independent work by the participants

Mid-term exercise

The mid-term exercise consists of a set of modelling tasks, including the interpretation of the results. The outcome of this exercise will contribute 50 per cent to the final mark.

05 06
Guided training

Numerical simulation of jointed rock masses

You will get introduced to the distinct element method for deformation analysis of jointed rock masses. The software UDEC by Ithasca will be employed for the training of the methods learned. All materials needed will be distributed at the start of lesson 5.

The final exercise will be designed as a homework It will contribute 50 per cent to the final mark.