Two case histories demonstrating the effect of past earthquakes on liquefaction resistance of silty sand

W. El-Sekelly, R. Dobry, Tarek Abdoun, J. H. Steidl

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The paper compares two liquefaction case histories in California: (1) the response of the Wildlife site in the Imperial Valley to the 2010 El-Mayor Cucapah earthquake (Mw=7.2, amax=0.15 g); and (2) the response of the Treasure Island Fire Station (F.S.) site in the San Francisco Bay area to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (Mw=6.9, amax=0.16 g). Both histories involve silty sand critical layers with nonplastic fines contents, FC=24-27%, similar normalized shear wave velocities, Vs1=145-155 m/s, low cone penetration test (CPT) cone penetration resistances, and groundwater tables at essentially the same depth. The corresponding data points plot almost on top of each other on the shear wave velocity field liquefaction charts, which predict liquefaction at both sites. While Treasure Island F.S. did liquefy during the shaking, Wildlife did not and was far from liquefaction as indicated by piezometers at the site. This paper constitutes an attempt to understand the reason for these very different pore pressure responses through a detailed analysis of similarities and differences between the two histories. It is concluded that preshaking by previous earthquakes is the most probable explanation of the higher liquefaction resistance exhibited by the Wildlife site and other sites in the Imperial Valley. While the Wildlife critical layer was subjected to about 60-70 earthquakes capable of generating significant excess pore pressures between its estimated 1907 deposition and the 2010 earthquake, the Treasure Island F.S. layer was subjected to only about two earthquakes capable of doing so between deposition in the 1930's and the 1989 earthquake. This difference is due to the very high seismic activity in the last 100-plus years in the Imperial Valley compared with a seismically quiet San Francisco Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake. The significance of the prior seismic history is corroborated by recent results from centrifuge and large-scale experiments. These results as well as the methodology developed in the paper may be helpful when analyzing the observed high liquefaction resistance of sandy sites located in other seismic regions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number04017009
    JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
    Volume143
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

    Fingerprint

    Liquefaction
    liquefaction
    Earthquakes
    Sand
    earthquake
    sand
    history
    Fires
    Shear waves
    Pore pressure
    valley
    pore pressure
    wave velocity
    S-wave
    Cones
    Loma Prieta earthquake 1989
    cone penetration test
    piezometer
    centrifuge
    effect

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

    Cite this

    Two case histories demonstrating the effect of past earthquakes on liquefaction resistance of silty sand. / El-Sekelly, W.; Dobry, R.; Abdoun, Tarek; Steidl, J. H.

    In: Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 143, No. 6, 04017009, 01.06.2017.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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