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Terrain Generator

1.0 Introduction

This tutorial will show you how to use the new Terrain Generator to import digital elevation models from satellite data.

Topics covered in this tutorial:

  • Import Terrain
  • Topographic Lines
  • Select Faces by Filter
  • RocFall2 Section Creator

Finished Product:

The finished product of this tutorial can be found in the Tutorial 02 Terrain Generator data file. All tutorial files installed with RocFall3 can be accessed by selecting File > Recent Folders > Tutorials Folder from the RocFall3 main menu.

2.0 Geometry

2.1 Import Terrain

The Terrain Generator tool allows users to create the geometry of their slope by importing the terrain using satellite imagery. The location of your terrain can be specified in several ways. Users can search an address using a civic address or they can directly enter the coordinates (latitude/longitude) for the center of the desired location. For this tutorial, we will be entering coordinates. From a new project:

  1. Select Geometry > Import/Export > Import Terrain Import Terrain icon
  2. Set the Layer as Satellite.
  3. Set the Region Dimensions (km) to Custom and enter:
    • Width = 1.5 km
    • Height = 1 km
  4. Enter the Center Coordinate as 38.86295534611765, -120.071928601074 and click Set.
    Note: You can copy and paste these coordinates into the Center Coordinate text box.Import Terrain dialog
  5. Click OK.
  6. When asked if you want to set the imported surface as the slope, select No. We want to simplify the slope geometry before using it (see section 2.2 below). Typically the mesh coming from the terrain geometry can be very dense. We generally suggest 50,000 triangles or less.
  7. You will notice that it is difficult to make out the image of the terrain. Select the Terrain by clicking on it in the Visibility Tree. In the Properties pane change the Transparency to 0%. Deselect the slope by either clicking in the view outside the slope or using the Clear Selection toolbar option.

Imported Terrain

2.2 Simplify and Repair Geometry

These geometry tools are common in all of the Rocscience 3D software.
  1. In the Visibility Tree, select the Terrain we just imported.
  2. In the menu, select Geometry > Surface Triangulation Tools > Simplify Triangulation.
  3. Under Simplification Level select Custom > By Triangle Count and enter 25000.
    Note: In the dialog you can see the Before Simplification Triangle count is over 215000, this can lead to larger compute time.
  4. Simplify Triangulation dialog

  5. Click OK.
    Note: Going back into the simplification tool will show the current new triangulation is 25000.
  6. Once again, in the Visibility Tree select the simplified terrain and then select Geometry > Repair Geometry in the menu.Repair Geometry dialog
  7. Click Repair to repair all the detected defects then click Close.
    Note: The Simplification and Repair process does not remove the image texture on the terrain. Other geometric processes that can change the overall geometry of the surface can remove the texture.

2.3 Set Slope Surface

When you're done editing the slope:

  1. In the Visibility Tree, select the Terrain we just simplified and repaired.
  2. Select Geometry > Set Slope Surface menu option.
Once you set the slope, you will not be able to edit its geometry.

2.4 Show Topographic Lines

  1. Select Annotate > Topographic Lines Topographic lines icon in the menu.
  2. In the Visibility Tree, ensure the Topographic Annotation is selected to view the options in the Properties Pane below.
  3. Go to the Properties Pane, change the Spacing to 100 and check Show Colors.

The topographic lines turn the model into a topographical map. It can serve as a visual aid to place slope-dependent elements (such as seeders and barriers).

Topo Lines

3.0 Slope Materials and Seeder

3.1 Define Materials

We're going to define 3 materials for this model.

  1. Select Materials > Define Materials Define Materials icon in the menu.
  2. Define the following 3 materials:
  3. Name

    Normal Restitution

    DistributionSt. dev. / Rel.Min / Rel.MaxTangential RestitutionDistributionSt. dev. / Rel.Min / Rel.MaxFriction Angle (o)
    Hard0.7Normal0.04 / 0.12 / 0.120.85Normal0.04 / 0.12 / 0.1220
    Soft0.5Normal0.04 / 0.12 / 0.120.8Normal0.04 / 0.12 / 0.12



Change the color of the water material to Light Blue.

3.2 Add New Material Regions

To add the material regions:

Select the Material Regions tab (located next to the Visibility Tree). By default the entire slope is set to the first material. Hard in this case. So all we need to do is define the Soft and Water regions.

3.2.1 Select by Elevation to Create Soft Material Region

To select a region based on elevation:

  1. Click the Filter icon Select Faces by Filter icon (next to the Create from Selected button).
  2. Check the box for Elevation (defined between Z values).
  3. Set the First Z Value to 0.
  4. Change the Second Z Value to 2500.
  5. Click the Add to Selection button to select that region.
  6. Click Close to close the dialog.
  7. Press the Create from Selected Create from Selected iconbutton. In the dialog that comes up, set the Property to Soft. Press the Ok button.

Material Region Soft

3.2.2 Draw Water region defining first lake

  1. Click Draw New Regions.
  2. Select The Water Property and click OK.
  3. We're now in the Draw Polyline mode for defining the polygonal region with the Water material assignment. There are 2 lakes in the East side of the terrain. Roughly draw the outline of the southern most lake. Right-click and select Done when finished defining the polygon.

Lake 1

3.2.3 Draw Water region defining second lake

  1. Click Draw New Regions
  2. Select The Water Property and click OK.
  3. We're now in the Draw Polyline mode for defining the polygonal region with the Water material assignment. There are 2 lakes in the East side of the terrain. Roughly draw the outline of the northern most lake. Right-click and select Done when finished defining the polygon.

Lake 2

When you have multiple overlapping material regions, the material property of the region that's highest in the Defined Regions list will be used. You can click on the UP/DOWN buttons to adjust the regions' hierarchy.

Click on the Tree tab in the Visibility pane to exit out of the Edit Material Regions mode.

Material Regions Finished

3.3 Add Line Seeder

  1. Change to the Seeders Flow Tab.
  2. Select Seeders > Define Seeder Properties in the menu.
  3. Set the Number of Rocks to 300.
  4. Leave all other values at their default and click OK to close the dialog.
  5. Select Seeders > Add Line Seeder add line seeder iconin the menu.
  6. Select Height Above Surface and put in a height of 3 m.
  7. Click Add Points on Viewport and draw the seeder line by tracing along the mountain ridge.
  8. Click Done once you’re done drawing the line.
  9. Click OK to close the dialog.

Seeder Added

4.0 Compute

  1. Click on the Compute compute icon icon in the toolbar (or select Analysis > Compute in the menu).

    5.0 Results


    This model is a great example to showcase the difference between 2D and 3D models. It's obvious to see how the paths turn and congregate at local valleys.

    6.0 RocFall2 Section Creator

    Note that this feature is only applicable if you also own RocFall2.

    1. Select Geometry tab.
    2. From the menu, select Geometry > RocFall2 Section Creator RocFall2 Section Creator icon
    3. In the Create/Edit Section Plane Node Data dialog, click Create Section.
    4. Put in X = -360, Y = -135.5, Strike = 80 as the Position. We know that the rock starting near this location went down the west side of the mountain ridge. Section Creator

    5. Click Export Section Data to RocFall2.
    6. In the Export Options dialog, check Line Seeders only.
    7. Click OK.
    8. The RocFall2 app will launch with the exported geometry and the point seeder that was transformed from the line seeder.
    9. In RocFall2, select Slope > Simplify Slope.
    10. Check Distance from original boundary and make sure the input is 0.1.
    11. Click OK.
    12. Click on the Results tab to compute.

      The below 2 figures are the 2D sections in RocFall2 and the Runout distance. When compared to 3D, the distances are very similar, around 240m with the possibility of longer travel distances to 500m. Use the Heat Map and Filter options in RocFall3 to easily these distances.

    2D Results

    2D Runout

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