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LlquefacLlon ls a phenomenon ln whlch Lhe sLrengLh and sLlffness of a soll ls reduced

by earLhquake shaklng or oLher rapld loadlng LlquefacLlon and relaLed phenomena


have been responslble for Lremendous amounLs of damage ln hlsLorlcal earLhquakes
around Lhe world

LlquefacLlon occurs ln saLuraLed solls LhaL ls solls ln whlch Lhe space beLween
lndlvldual parLlcles ls compleLely fllled wlLh waLer 1hls waLer exerLs a pressure on
Lhe soll parLlcles LhaL lnfluences how LlghLly Lhe parLlcles Lhemselves are pressed
LogeLher rlor Lo an earLhquake Lhe waLer pressure ls relaLlvely low Powever
earLhquake shaklng can cause Lhe waLer pressure Lo lncrease Lo Lhe polnL where Lhe
soll parLlcles can readlly move wlLh respecL Lo each oLher
LarLhquake shaklng ofLen Lrlggers Lhls lncrease ln waLer pressure buL consLrucLlon
relaLed acLlvlLles such as blasLlng can also cause an lncrease ln waLer pressure
When llquefacLlon occurs Lhe sLrengLh of Lhe soll decreases and Lhe ablllLy of a soll
deposlL Lo supporL foundaLlons for bulldlngs and brldges ls reduced as seen ln Lhe
phoLo (SC) of Lhe overLurned aparLmenL complex bulldlngs ln nllgaLa ln 1964
Llquefled soll also exerLs hlgher pressure on reLalnlng wallswhlch can cause Lhem Lo
LllL or sllde 1hls movemenL can cause seLLlemenL of Lhe reLalned soll and desLrucLlon
of sLrucLures on Lhe ground surface (lefLCP)
lncreased waLer pressure can also Lrlgger landslldes and cause Lhe collapse of
dams Lower San lernando dam (lefL SC) suffered an underwaLer sllde durlng Lhe San
lernando earLhquake 1971 lorLunaLely Lhe dam barely avolded collapse Lhereby
prevenLlng a poLenLlal dlsasLer of floodlng of Lhe heavlly populaLed areas below Lhe
dam
FIow Liquefaction & CycIic MobiIity

The term liqueIaction has actually been used to describe a
number oI related phenomena. Because the phenomena can have
similar eIIects, it can be diIIicult to distinguish between them. The
mechanisms causing them, however, are diIIerent. These
phenomena can be divided into two main categories: Ilow
liqueIaction and cyclic mobility.

FIow Liquefaction

Flow liqueIaction is a phenomenon in which the static
equilibrium is destroyed by static or dynamic loads in a soil deposit
with low residual strength. Residual strength is the strength oI a
liqueIied soil. Static loading, Ior example, can be applied by new
buildings on a slope that exert additional Iorces on the soil beneath
the Ioundations. Earthquakes, blasting, and pile driving are all
example oI dynamic loads that could trigger Ilow liqueIaction.
Once triggered, the strength oI a soil susceptible to Ilow
liqueIaction is no longer suIIicient to withstand the static stresses
that were acting on the soil beIore the disturbance.




An analogy can be seen in the picture above, where the static
stability oI a ski jumper in the starting gate is disturbed when the
jumper pushes himselI Irom the start seat. AIter this relatively small
disturbance, the static driving Iorce caused by gravity, being greater
than the Irictional resisting Iorce between the ski and snow, causes
the skier to accelerate down the ramp. The path that brings the ski
jumper to an unstable state is analogous to the static or dynamic
disturbance that triggers Ilow liqueIaction - in both cases, a
relatively small disturbance proceeds an instability that allows
gravity to take over and produce large, rapid movements.


Failures caused by Ilow liqueIaction are oIten characterized by large and rapid
movements which can produce the type oI disastrous eIIects experienced by the
Kawagishi-cho apartment buildings, which suIIered a remarkable bearing capacity
Iailure during the Niigata Earthquake 1964. The Turnagain Heights landslide, Alaska
Earthquake ghts landslide, Alaska Earthquake 1964 which is
thought to be triggered by liqueIaction oI sand lenses in
the 130-acre slide area provides another example oI Ilow
liqueIaction. SheIIield Dam suIIered a Ilow Iailure
triggered by the Santa Barbara Earthquake in 1925. A
300 It section (oI the 720
Ieet long dam) moved as
much as 100 It
downstream. The dam consisted mainly oI silty
sands and sandy silts excavated Irom the
reservoir and compacted by routingconstruction
equipment over the Iill (Seed, 1968).
As these case histories illustrate, Ilow Iailures, can
involve the Ilow oI considerable volumes oI material, which undergoes very large
movements that are actually driven by static stresses. As described in the state
criteria section, the disturbance needed to trigger Ilow liqueIaction can, in some
instances, be very small. Read more about theinitiation of flow liquefaction.
CycIic MobiIity

Cyclic mobility is a liqueIaction phenomenon, triggered by cyclic loading,
occuring in soil deposits with static shear stresses lower than the soil strength.
DeIormations due to cyclic mobility develop
incrementally because oI static and dynamic stresses that
exist during an earthquake.Lateral spreading, a common
result oI cyclic mobility, can occur on gently sloping and
on Ilat ground close to rivers and lakes. The 1976
Guatemala earthquake caused lateral spreading along the
Motagua river. Observe the cracks parallel to the river in
the picture to the right.
On level ground, the high porewater pressure caused
by liqueIaction can cause porewater to Ilow rapidly to
the ground surIace. This Ilow can occur both during and
aIter an earthquake. II the Ilowing porewater rises
quickly enough, it can carry sand particles through
cracks up to the surIace, where they are deposited in the
Iorm oI sand volcanoes or sand boils. These Ieatures can
oIten be observed at sites that have been aIIected by liqueIaction, such as in the Iield
along Hwy 98 during the 1979 El Centro earthquake shown above.
























When

arthquakes
LiqueIaction has been observed in earthquakes Ior many years. In
Iact, written records dating back hundreds and even thousands oI
years describe earthquake eIIects that are now known to be
associated with liqueIaction. Nevertheless, liqueIaction has been so
widespread in a number oI recent earthquakes that it is oIten
associated with them. Some oI those earthquakes are listed below.