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The over-prediction of seismically induced soil liquefaction during the 2016 Kumamoto, Japan earthquake sequence

December 27, 2022
Following the M7.0 strike-slip earthquake near Kumamoto, Japan, in April of 2016, most geotechnical engineering experts believed that there would be significant soil liquefaction and liquefaction-induced infrastructure damage observed in the densely populated city of Kumamoto during the post-event engineering reconnaissance. This belief was driven by several factors including the young geologic environment, alluvially deposited soils, a predominance of loose sandy soils documented in publicly available boring logs throughout the region, and the high intensity ground motions observed from the earthquake. To the surprise of many of the researchers, soil liquefaction occurred both less frequently and less severely than expected. This paper summarizes findings from our field, laboratory, and simplified analytical studies common to engineering practice to assess the lower occurrence of liquefaction. Measured in situ SPT and CPT resistance values were evaluated with current liquefaction triggering procedures. Minimally disturbed samples were subjected to cyclic triaxial testing. Furthermore, an extensive literature review on Kumamoto volcanic soils was performed. Our findings suggest that current liquefaction triggering procedures over-predict liquefaction frequency and effects in alluvially deposited volcanic soils. Volcanic soils were found to possess properties of soil crushability, high fines content, moderate plasticity, and unanticipated organic constituents. Cyclic triaxial tests confirm the high liquefaction resistance of these soils. Moving forward, geotechnical engineers should holistically consider the soil’s mineralogy and geology before relying solely on simplified liquefaction triggering procedures when evaluating volcanic soils for liquefaction.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title The over-prediction of seismically induced soil liquefaction during the 2016 Kumamoto, Japan earthquake sequence
DOI 10.3390/geosciences13010007
Authors Donald J. Anderson, Kevin W. Franke, Robert Kayen, Shideh Dashti, M Badanagki
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geosciences
Index ID 70239372
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center