geology

Home » Geologic Hazards » Liquefaction

What is Liquefaction?



Definition of Liquefaction



Liquefaction occurs when vibrations or water pressure within a mass of soil cause the soil particles to lose contact with one another. As a result, the soil behaves like a liquid, has an inability to support weight and can flow down very gentle slopes. This condition is usually temporary and is most often caused by an earthquake vibrating water-saturated fill or unconsolidated soil.


Conditions that Cause Liquefaction



Liquefaction most often occurs when three conditions are met:

1) loose, granular sediment or fill
2) saturation by groundwater
3) strong shaking


Liquefaction Susceptibility Mapping



An understanding of the conditions that cause liquefaction enables geologists to produce maps of liquefaction susceptibility. This has been done for the San Francisco Bay area and other locations where earthquakes might trigger liquefaction. A sample from one of these maps is shown below.

liquefaction susceptibility map
A portion of a liquefaction susceptibility map of an area near Oakland, California produced by the United States Geological Survey. The map is color-coded to show areas of very high (red), high (orange), moderate (yellow), low (green) and very low (white) susceptibility to liquefaction. This type of map is valuable in making land-use and development decisions. Image by USGS.




Find it on Geology.com




More from Geology.com


Deepest Lake in the World
Deepest Lake in the World: Lake Baikal in southern Russia is the deepest lake in the World.
Geologist Tools
Geologist Tools: Visit our store for a large selection of field and laboratory tools.
Diamonds from Coal
Biggest Misconception: Lots of people think that diamonds form from coal. Not True!
Ammolite
Ammolite is a fossil and a gemstone. It is shell material from fossil ammonites.
gem photos
100+ Gems - Photos of over 100 beautiful gems ranging from the popular to the obscure.
wall maps
Wall Maps - World maps, United States maps, continent maps, maps of individual states.
Shale
Shale: The rock that is quickly transforming the energy industry.
US Diamond Mines
US Diamond Mines: Did you know that diamonds can be found in the United States?




liquefaction in Niigata, Japan
Tilted apartment buildings at Kawagishi cho, Niigata, Japan; the soils beneath these buildings liquefied during an earthquake in 1964 and provided little support for the building foundations. These tilted buildings and liquefaction in this area are probably the most well known examples of liquefaction and loss of bearing strength. Image and caption by USGS.




Dr. Ellen Rathje uses a model to demonstrate and explain soil liquefaction.


Much of the damage experienced during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake was caused by liquefaction.


San Andreas Fault Article
San Andreas Fault Map
Earthquake Articles
Teaching Plate Tectonics
Earthquakes and Homeowner's Insurance
California Earthquake Maps
What Causes A Tsunami?
Earthquake News





© 2005-2017 Geology.com. All Rights Reserved.
Images, code, and content on this website are property of Geology.com and are protected by copyright law.
Geology.com does not grant permission for any use, republication, or redistribution.
Images, code and content owned by others are marked on the pages where they appear.