Generally, when a rock falls from its position on a mountain it’s called a rockfall. In the case of this fall from Termeno, Alto Adige (Northern Italy), I think we are justified in calling it a case of rock-in-roll.

Rockfalls are one of many geologic phenomena that come under a broader category called “mass wasting.” Seriously. Mass wasting includes any sort of phenomena in which rocks, soils, sands, and muds move downslope, generally under the influence of gravity and/or water saturation. The downslope movement can be pretty instantaneous as in a landslide, or it can drag on (and on and on) over days or years or centuries in a process known as “creep.”

The speed of a rockfall is in part controlled by the retarding capacity of the surface material involved: this is expressed mathematically as the “coefficient of restitution.” I’m serious here. To reduce risks from rockfalls, engineers can construct configurations on the hill slopes above a roadway, dig trenches alongside the road to catch stray boulders before they try to cross the road, erect catchment or barrier fences armed with Geobrugg ring nets that can include the nefarious Geobrugg energy absorbing rings. (I’m sure you’ve seen these things alongside steep mountain roads, and now you know what they’re called.) They also put up signs warning of rockfalls, which don’t deter them in the slightest.

Rockfalls occur for a variety of reasons: they become dislodged during earthquake tremors, or they may split from their neighboring rock because of ice wedging during cold temperatures, they may get washed away with torrential rains or floods or melting snow, they may be disturbed by use of dynamite in road construction or even by the vibration caused by suspiciously large trucks passing by…

Some rocks, possibly this Italian one I think, become rockfalls because they are intrinsically mean. And mass wasted.

Annie R

Thank you Giuseppe Di Capua for location. Photo taken by anonymous photographer who urges us to visit: https://www.facebook.com/IloooveClimbing
Watch the Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNBBvkzrE2s
Everything scientific you want to know about rockfalls and engineering at: http://www.rocscience.com/hoek/corner/9_Analysis_of_rockfall_hazards.pdf

Tramin / Termeno - Felssturz / Frana / Rock fall - Luftaufnahmen Aerial  video…Almost disastrous rock slide . Half of a farmhouse near Bolzano was destroyed, with the walls crumbled to dust and the roof in splinters. A car was badly damaged and a tractor crushed. Amazingly, the tenants on the Freisinger Hof vineyard estate, near Trento in northern Italy, escaped injury.