Stability of rigid body motion through an extended intermediate axis theorem: application to rockfall simulation

28. Mai 2021

Multibody System Dynamics, 52(4), 431-455, 2021.

The stability properties of a freely rotating rigid body are governed by the intermediate axis theorem, i.e., rotation around the major and minor principal axes is stable whereas rotation around the intermediate axis is unstable. The stability of the principal axes is of importance for the prediction of rockfall. Current numerical schemes for 3D rockfall simulation, how ever, are not able to correctly represent these stability properties. In this paper an extended intermediate axis theorem is presented, which not only involves the angular momentum equations but also the orientation of the body, and we prove the theorem using Lyapunov’s direct method. Based on the stability proof, we present a novel scheme which respects the stability properties of a freely rotating body and which can be incorporated in numerical schemes for the simulation of rigid bodies with frictional unilateral constraints. In particular, we show how this scheme is incorporated in an existing 3D rockfall simulation code. Simulations results reveal that the stability properties of rotating rocks play an essential role in the run-out length and lateral spreading of rocks.


Dieses Bild zeigt Remco I. Leine

Remco I. Leine

Prof. Dr. ir. habil.


Dieses Bild zeigt Giuseppe  Capobianco

Giuseppe Capobianco

MSc ETH Masch.-Ing.
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