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Geosynthetic protective dam eliminates rockfall hazards

Case Studies, Products | April 13, 2022 | By:

After rockfall onto a parking lot in the Stubaital region of Austria, a geosynthetic protective dam defended the area from further damage.

Geosynthetic protective dam from TenCate Geosynthetics prevents rockfall from falling on gondola station in Austria.
Construction of the Polyslope S system rockfall protection dam at the Eisgratbahn Talstation in Neustift im Stubaital, Austria. Photograph courtesy of TenCate Geosynthetics EMEA

A huge boulder detached itself from the slope directly above the parking lot of the Eisgratbahn Talstation in the Tyrolean Stubaital of Austria. To prevent further danger in a fast and reliable manner, engineers designed a new type of rockfall protection dam using the TenCate Geosynthetics Polyslope S system.

Danger ahead: Secure geosynthetic protective dam 

A boulder the size of a single-family house fell from the slope above a parking lot of the Eisgratbahn Talstation during a rockfall in May 2021. To eliminate the risk of further rockfalls and secure the slope in time for the start of the next winter season in October, a fast and durable protective structure was needed.

“Thanks to our many years of experience, our flexible production facilities and the close cooperation with operators, planners and the construction company, we were able to realize this project within the tight time schedule.”

Michael Uebigau, Area Sales Manager West Austria, TenCate Geosynthetics EMEA

Reliable solution: TenCate Polyslope S for reinforcement

With the Polyslope S system, TenCate Geosynthetics contributed to a qualitatively outstanding, site-specific construction that absorbs the dynamic forces of falling rock while requiring a minimum of surface area: The Eisgratbahn rockfall protective dam is one of the first structures built according to the Austrian ONR 24810 standard and offers an optimal combination of performance and cost efficiency coupled with a minimal time investment.

This innovative protective dam, which complies with the latest ONR, is the extension of a dam built in 2005—also with the Polyslope S system—in a move to simultaneously improve the avalanche protection for the parking lot at the gondola station. The implementation was carried out in record time: After the start of construction, the geosynthetic products for reinforcement were delivered within four weeks. After fix weeks of construction, work crew complete the project, and visitors could use the parking lot in time for the start of the winter season. 

CO2 emission reduction: Minimized ecological footprint 

A conventional concrete structure would have required much more energy and transportation than the modern construction method using geotextiles.

On the mountainside, the dam surface in the rockfall zone was constructed with a mortared tile set as surface protection against falling rock. Greenery was planted on the remaining embankment surfaces, the front sides and the top of the dam to ensure everything blended into the landscape. 

Benefits of the Polyslope geosynthetic protective dam

  • Timely delivery of system components 
  • Minimal effort of transportation 
  • Preservation of natural resources: Mineral material used on-site for reinforcement 
  • Natural appearance due to the greenery planted  

This article originally appeared on the TenCate Geosynthetics EMEA blog.

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