Rock Slide

PFC, PFC3D 5.0
Example Write-Up:
Runs in Demo: 
Project Files: 
Details and Description: 

This example demonstrates the use of PFC to model a pile of rock boulders sliding down a slope. The slope is represented by a DXF surface that is imported into PFC and automatically converted to wall facets. The boulders consist of clumps of overlapping pebbles generated from a set of STL surface geometry files. During the model run, the boulders are plotted using a smooth surface representation of the clumps (rather than the actual pebbles).

Using a set of data files called (executed) sequentially via a central "doall" data file, this example demonstrates:

(1) How to make and save binary clump templates for future simulations (make_clump_templates.p3dat):

  • import the STL files of the boulders
  • use BubblePack to generate the pebble distribution and calculate the inertia tensor and volume from the surface description
  • calculate the inertia tensor from the pebble distribution
  • export each one to a binary file to be loaded later

(2) How to generate clumps in a periodic container and let them settle within a periodic space (put_in_periodic):

  • import the clump templates from the binary files
  • generate a distribution of clumps derived from a series of bin sizes based on volume fraction
  • assign clump properties and linear contact model for initial packing
  • calm clumps for initial packing
  • make brick and export as file
  • save model results at this stage

(3) How to generate the mountain slope topology, assign clump and slope properties, and create particle velocity traces (make_mountain):

  • import the mountain as a wall
  • import the brick and assemble it
  • remove any clumps outside of the mountain surface
  • add a bounding box and permit clumps to settle into their initial position
  • assign clump properties and linear contact model for the final simulation
  • settle in the box
  • change the frictional properties along the slope
  • add a number of particle traces
  • save model results at this stage

(4) How to run a simple simulation in PFC (run_model):

  • adjust the plot view
  • cycle the model 100,000 times
  • save final model results at this stage


  • rock fall
  • fly rock
  • avalanche
  • Rock
  • Dynamic