Numerical modelling of instability and deformation processes of soils and rocks


Based on the application of numerical modelling techniques, CNR – IRPI can provide consulting services on stability/instability conditions and kinematical evolution of potentially unstable slopes, underground caves, embankments, open-pit mines, landfills and any other type of natural or man-made soil/rock structure at risk.


The numerical modelling service is aimed at assessing hazard conditions induced by potentially unstable situations in geomechanics, exploring the failure mechanisms or the time-dependent kinematical evolution of active landslides, detecting the factors controlling the instability processes and then assessing possible interventions of risk mitigation.

Methods and technologies

The numerical modelling techniques used by CNR - IRPI include the finite element method, by using the two-dimensional PLAXIS-2D and the three-dimensional PLAXIS-3D and COMSOL Multiphysics softwares, and the distinct element method for rock mechanics applications. CNR – IRPI can also perform stability analysis with the conventional limit equilibrium methods. The numerical models are validated and optimized by means of monitoring database acquired with ground-, air or satellite-based advanced techniques.


3-D FEM analysis for the assessment of the kinematical evolution of active landslides and the production of deformation maps, based on the calibration and optimization of the numerical results with ground surface and at-depth monitoring data. FEM model for the study of the deformation mechanism of an active earth-flow and the assessment of the factors controlling the instability. FEM analysis for the assessment of the effects produced by tunnel excavation within a slope affected by a deep pre-existing landslide. 3-D FEM analysis for the study of the stability conditions of a landfill and the corresponding deformation mechanism. Numerical analysis for the assessment of the potential hazard conditions of abandoned underground caves and open-pit mines in soft rocks.