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Why does flexible wire rope nets effective in stopping rockfall?

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A rockfall barrier has to serve basically the following two purposes:

(i) It has to be sufficiently high so that it would not be jumped over by rock boulders.
(ii) It has to resist the impact of rockfall without structural failure.

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For rockfall energy greater than 2,500kJ, it requires the installation of earth dams, underpinning (stabilized) or even complete removal. For rockfall energy less than 2,500kJ, it can be resisted by rigid structures made of concrete or steel. However, the recent trend is that most of these rigid structures are replaced by flexible structures like flexible wire rope nets. For total work on barrier system, it is defined as force times displacement. The merit of flexible system lies in the small forces generated with large displacement when compared with larges forces with little displacement in rigid structures. As a result, the flexible structures can be designed with low impact forces leading to better and economical design.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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