Expert Report

State of the Art and Practice in the Assessment of Earthquake-Induced Soil Liquefaction and Its Consequences (2016)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Earthquake-induced soil liquefaction is a leading cause of earthquake damage worldwide. Studies often describe liquefaction as the phenomena of seismic generation of excess porewater* pressures, which then soften granular soils. Many regions in the United States have been witness to liquefaction and its consequences, such as the inability of soils to support the foundations of buildings and other infrastructure.

Past damage and destruction caused by liquefaction underline the importance of accurate assessments of where liquefaction is likely and what the consequences may be. Such assessments are needed to protect life and safety and to mitigate economic, environmental, and societal impacts of liquefaction in a cost-effective manner. Assessment methods exist, but methods used to assess consequences are less mature than those used to assess the potential for liquefaction triggering. The earthquake engineering community wrestles with the differences among the various assessment methods for both liquefaction triggering and consequences.

State of the Art and Practice in the Assessment of Earthquake-Induced Soil Liquefaction and Its Consequences evaluates these various methods, focusing on those developed within the past 20 years. Strategies are recommended to minimize uncertainties in use of the methods in the short term and to develop improved methods to assess liquefaction and its consequences in the longer term. This report represents a first attempt within the geotechnical earthquake engineering community to consider, in such a manner, the various methods to assess liquefaction consequences.

*Water contained in pores in soil or rock.