Recent findings on liquefaction triggering in clean and silty sands during earthquakes

R. Dobry, T. Abdoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is the written version of the H. Bolton Seed Medal Award Lecture presented at the ASCE Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress in Phoenix, Arizona, February 14-17, 2016. It discusses five recent findings on liquefaction triggering of clean and silty sands during earthquakes. Tools ranging from case history analysis to centrifuge tests were used in the corresponding studies. The findings are (1) pore pressure ratio during earthquakes is more uniquely correlated to cyclic shear strain, γc, than to cyclic stress ratio (CSR); (2) current penetration and shear wave velocity (Vs) charts are associated with small to moderate cyclic strains triggering liquefaction, γcl, that range from γcl ≈ 0.03% to γcl ≈ 0.3% depending on soil characteristics and earthquake magnitude; (3) for recent uncompacted clean and silty sand fills that have not been significantly preshaken, such as those in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and a Richter scale magnitude Mw = 7.5, triggering occurs at γcl ≈ 0.03%; (4) for the heavily preshaken, geologically recent natural silty sands in the Imperial Valley of California, γcl ≈ 0.1-0.2% with a liquefaction resistance that is twice as big despite the fact that some of these sands were deposited as recently as the uncompacted fills in San Francisco; and (5) the static cone penetration resistance (CPT) tip penetration resistance of a clean sand is more sensitive to preshaking than Vs, with the CPT capturing better the increased liquefaction resistance due to preshaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04017077
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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