Investigating the role of clay layers in containing liquefied soils
During the 2010 - 2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence, extensive liquefaction was observed in many areas of Christchurch city and its surroundings, causing widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure. While existing simplified methods were found to work well in some areas of the city, there were also large areas where these methods did not perform satisfactorily. In some of these cases, researchers have proposed that layers of fine grained material within the soil profile may be responsible for preventing the manifestation of liquefaction. This paper presents preliminary findings on the mechanisms at play when pressure differentials exist across a clay layer. It is found that if the clay layer is unable to distort, then pore fluid is unable to break-through the layer even with relatively high pressures, resulting in dissipation of excess pore pressures by seepage. If the layers are however able to distort, then it is possible for the pore fluid to break through the clay layer, potentially resulting in adverse effects in terms of the severity of liquefaction.