Seismic Liquefaction Trigger Mechanisms
Thesis DisciplineCivil Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Three possible mechanisms for the onset of excess pore water pressure generation due to seismic excitation of saturated soil are investigated using downhole array data from sixteen real earthquakes. The downhole data are used to synthesize both stress and strain at various depths within the ground. Stresses, strains and dissipated energy are then investigated as potential liquefaction trigger mechanisms. The hypothesis that the shear strain threshold is a liquefaction trigger mechanism is strongly supported by the results presented here. In all but one case the shear strain threshold accurately predicts the time of pore pressure rise for real earthquakes in the field. Additionally, the onset of energy dissipation is found to signal the initial rise in measured excess pore pressure remarkably accurately. The results suggest a fundamental link between Nemat-Nasser and Shokooh's pore pressure - dissipated energy.density relationship (1979) and Mindlin and Deresiewicz's (1953) theoretical strain threshold. Mindlin and Deresiewicz's work (1953) defined a theoretical strain threshold as the mechanism for the onset of gross sliding, and 'its associated energy dissipation'. Therefore the onset of energy dissipation constitutes a second, independent verification of the strain threshold hypothesis. The relationship between stress invariants and pore pressure increase is less clear. To date there does not appear to be an acceptable theory that describes a trigger mechanism in terms of stress alone.