Rock barriers: safety
for infrastructures in mountain areas

Relationship between man, mountain and technology

In mountain areas like South Tyrol, the issue of rockfall barriers is becoming increasingly important. Experts agree in stating that, in the future, falling rocks will be an increasingly significant problem in the area. Events like the massive landslide of 2014 at Ronchi di Termeno, prove which forces can be set in motion by falling rocks. The largest of those rocks, which only just grazed the Freisinger Hof, had a volume of 380 cubic metres.
Every year, South Tyrol spends 40 million Euro for the construction of protection barriers against falling rocks. In addition to homes and businesses, it is also necessary to protect sensitive infrastructures like, for example, the Brennero motorway. A fundamental role is played by the ongoing development of the materials used, which makes them suitable for new challenges. In this way, together with a farsighted planning of danger zones, experts aim at preventing damage to people and infrastructures, even though safety can never be guaranteed 100%.

Good Practice: Rock barriers in Ronchi di Termeno

In January 2014, in Ronchi di Termeno, there was a bad landslide. After the emergency, the geology and materials planning office put extensive protection measures to work. The result are the two embankments that protect the inhabited areas from further rockfall.

The know-how behind the project
Intense research activity and accurate calculations are at the foundation of protection measures against rockfall. Firstly, a survey was performed on the entire area involved, using aerial photography. Next, the geologists calculated the load capacity of the embankments and their exact positions using modern simulation programs
The technology
An essential factor in modern rockfall barriers are the materials used, as in the case of rockfall netting. Constant development work is necessary in order to adapt them to new requirements. The Maccaferri company of Bologna manages an innovation centre in Bolzano where, among other things, they work on developing rock netting. A specific machine creates the prototypes. With the help of scientific studies, they intend to increase the load capacity of the nets.

The experts in our network:

  • Geology and materials testing office
  • Maccaferri
  • Sarnertec
  • Pircher
  • Geologico
  • Heinrich Ausserer
  • Pixair
  • Betonform

The innoalptec project (FESR1060) is financed by the European Union and by the European regional development fund