Remote thermal detection of exfoliation sheet deformation

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A growing body of research indicates that rock slope failures, particularly from exfoliating cliffs, are promoted by rock deformations induced by daily temperature cycles. Although previous research has described how these deformations occur, full three-dimensional monitoring of both the deformations and the associated temperature changes has not yet been performed. Here we use integrated terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and infrared thermography (IRT) techniques to monitor daily deformations of two granitic exfoliating cliffs in Yosemite National Park (CA, USA). At one cliff, we employed TLS and IRT in conjunction with in situ instrumentation to confirm previously documented behavior of an exfoliated rock sheet, which experiences daily closing and opening of the exfoliation fracture during rock cooling and heating, respectively, with a few hours delay from the minimum and maximum temperatures. The most deformed portion of the sheet coincides with the area where both the fracture aperture and the temperature variations are greatest. With the general deformation and temperature relations established, we then employed IRT at a second cliff, where we remotely detected and identified 11 exfoliation sheets that displayed those general thermal relations. TLS measurements then subsequently confirmed the deformation patterns of these sheets showing that sheets with larger apertures are more likely to display larger thermal-related deformations. Our high-frequency monitoring shows how coupled TLS and IRT allows for remote detection of thermally induced deformations and, importantly, how IRT could potentially be used on its own to identify partially detached exfoliation sheets capable of large-scale deformation. These results offer a new and efficient approach for investigating potential rockfall sources on exfoliating cliffs.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Remote thermal detection of exfoliation sheet deformation
Series title Landslides
DOI 10.1007/s10346-020-01524-1
Volume 18
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Springer Link
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 865
Last page 879
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Yosemite Valley
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