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Techniques and Methods 14–A1

Scoops3D—Software to Analyze Three-Dimensional Slope Stability Throughout a Digital Landscape

By Mark E. Reid, Sarah B. Christian, Dianne L. Brien, and Scott T. Henderson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (18.7 MB)Abstract

The computer program, Scoops3D, evaluates slope stability throughout a digital landscape represented by a digital elevation model (DEM). The program uses a three-dimensional (3D) method of columns approach to assess the stability of many (typically millions) potential landslides within a user-defined size range. For each potential landslide (or failure), Scoops3D assesses the stability of a rotational, spherical slip surface encompassing many DEM cells using a 3D version of either Bishop’s simplified method or the Ordinary (Fellenius) method of limit-equilibrium analysis. Scoops3D has several options for the user to systematically and efficiently search throughout an entire DEM, thereby incorporating the effects of complex surface topography. In a thorough search, each DEM cell is included in multiple potential failures, and Scoops3D records the lowest stability (factor of safety) for each DEM cell, as well as the size (volume or area) associated with each of these potential landslides. It also determines the least-stable potential failure for the entire DEM. The user has a variety of options for building a 3D domain, including layers or full 3D distributions of strength and pore-water pressures, simplistic earthquake loading, and unsaturated suction conditions. Results from Scoops3D can be readily incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) or other visualization software. This manual includes information on the theoretical basis for the slope-stability analysis, requirements for constructing and searching a 3D domain, a detailed operational guide (including step-by-step instructions for using the graphical user interface [GUI] software, Scoops3D-i) and input/output file specifications, practical considerations for conducting an analysis, results of verification tests, and multiple examples illustrating the capabilities of Scoops3D. Easy-to-use software installation packages are available for the Windows or Macintosh operating systems; these packages install the compiled Scoops3D program, the GUI (Scoops3D-i), and associated documentation. Several Scoops3D examples, including all input and output files, are available as well. The source code is written in the Fortran 90 language and can be compiled to run on any computer operating system with an appropriate compiler.

First posted April 10, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Volcano Science Center—Menlo Park
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 910
Menlo Park, CA 94025

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Suggested citation:

Reid, M.E., Christian, S.B., Brien, D.L., and Henderson, S.T., 2015, Scoops3D—Software to analyze 3D slope stability throughout a digital landscape: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 14, chap. A1, 218 p.,

ISSN 2328-7055 (online)



Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Basis of the Slope-Stability Analysis

Chapter 3. Build and Search a 3D Domain

Chapter 4. Program Operation

Chapter 5. Practical Considerations

Chapter 6. Testing and Verification of Scoops3D

Chapter 7. Examples



Glossary of Selected Terms

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