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Assessment of liquefaction susceptibility of fine grained soils

Pehlivan, Menzer
Recent ground failure case histories after 1994 Northridge, 1999 Kocaeli and 1999 Chi-Chi earthquakes revealed that low-plasticity silt-clay mixtures generate significant cyclic pore pressures and can exhibit a strain-softening response, which may cause significant damage to overlying structural systems. These observations accelerated research studies on liquefaction susceptibility of fine-grained soils. Alternative approaches to Chinese Criteria were proposed by several researchers (Seed et al. 2003, Bray and Sancio 2006, Boulanger and Idriss 2006) most of which assess liquefaction triggering potential based on cyclic test results compared on the basis of index properties of soils (such as LL, PI, LI, wc/LL). Although these new methodologies are judged to be major improvements over Chinese Criteria, still there exist unclear issues regarding if and how reliably these methods can be used for the assessment of liquefaction triggering potential of fine grained soils. In this study, results of cyclic tests performed on undisturbed specimens (ML, CL, MH and CH) were used to study cyclic shear strain and excess pore water pressure generation response of fine-grained soils. Based on comparisons with the cyclic response of saturated clean sands, a shift in pore pressure ratio (ru) vs. shear strain response is observed, which is identified to be a function of PI, LL and (wc/LL). Within the confines of this study, i) probabilistically based boundary curves identifying liquefaction triggering potential in the ru vs. shear strain domain were proposed as a function of PI, LL and (wc/LL), ii) these boundaries were then mapped on to the normalized net tip resistance (qt,1,net) vs. friction ratio (FR) domain, consistent with the work of Cetin and Ozan (2009). The proposed framework enabled both Atterberg limits and CPT based assessment of liquefaction triggering potential of fine grained low plasticity soils, differentiating clearly both cyclic mobility and liquefaction responses.