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28.08.2019 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 2/2020

Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 2/2020

Influence of initial conditions on the liquefaction strength of an earth structure

Zeitschrift:
Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment > Ausgabe 2/2020
Autoren:
Anna Chiaradonna, Alfredo Reder

Abstract

Liquefaction has been the major source of damage for structures and infrastructures in most recent earthquakes, as it induces loss of strength and stiffness in soils, resulting in settlement of buildings, landslides, and failure of pipelines and earth dams. Such a phenomenon is primarily associated with saturated cohesionless soils and strong-motion seismic events able to induce pore water pressure build-up. Even though the degree of soil saturation is strictly related to the oscillation of groundwater table and to the interaction flows (namely precipitation and evaporation) between the exposed surface and the atmosphere, the initial distribution of pore water pressure is commonly simplified in liquefaction potential analysis and the presence of unsaturated soil layers is almost always neglected. To try to fill this gap, this work investigates the effect of the initial distribution of pore water pressure on the liquefaction strength evaluation, considering the potential presence of unsaturated soil layers. The work uses as case-study a well-investigated inhabited levee damaged by the 2012 Emilia earthquake. The initial distribution of pore water pressure within the dyke is carried out by solving the Richards equation in steady-state and transient conditions, assuming as boundary conditions the evolution of potential flows recorded at the site in the time period including the earthquake event. The cyclic resistance of unsaturated soils is considered during the execution of dynamic analyses in effective stress conditions. Results of the analyses show that initial conditions influence the liquefaction strength of earth structure and that neglecting the cyclic resistance of unsaturated soils is not a conservative assumption.

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