Phase 1 (2003-2009)

Photo courtesy of CN

Overview of the Program

The primary objectives of Phase I of the RGHRP were to develop: (1) a standardized ground hazard classification system that could be used by front line operators throughout the industry; (2) a methodology for mapping and characterizing ground hazards; (3) methodologies for establishing ground hazard trigger thresholds, including severe weather, seismic, hydraulic potential, erosion and man-made events; (4) Geographic Information System (GIS) tools specifically tailored to link spatial and temporal data to geotechnical analysis tools such that parameter variability and probability of failure can be linked; and (5) ground hazard event detection systems. All of these objectives have been

addressed, and the findings communicated in journal articles, conference papers, theses and technical reports (please see Publications).

At the outset of Phase I, researchers were provided access to a railway industry database of ground hazard incident reports collected since the beginning of the last century. With this information, researchers developed a ground hazard classification system that identified and defined all types of ground hazards encountered by railways. Researchers also developed methodologies for mapping and characterizing ground hazards and their trigger thresholds, performed innovative Geographic Information System (GIS) based geospatial analysis, and created decision support tools and ground hazard event detection systems. The technologies that were investigated by our researchers include:

  • the use of seismic monitoring for detecting rock fall activity;

  • the application of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors for monitoring the dynamic and static movement and deformation of railway sub-grade under cyclic train axial loading; and

  • the use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar for the detection of rock slope movement prior to failure.

The discoveries and technical developments were shared with members of the RGHRP, regulatory agencies, and invited guests through publications and annual workshops.