Field occurrences of liquefaction-induced features: A primer for engineering geologic analysis of paleoseismic shaking

Stephen F. Obermeier, Scott M. Olson, Russell A. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Discussed in this paper are the factors that control the typical manifestations of liquefaction that are found in continental field settings. The factors are given mainly in terms of the local geologic field situation and the geotechnical properties there. A meaningful interpretation of liquefaction-based data for quantitative analysis of paleoseismic shaking requires understanding of both geologic and geotechnical roles in the mode of ground failure at a specific site. Recommendations are made for the size of the field area that must be searched for liquefaction effects, in order to develop adequate data for engineering geologic/geotechnical analyses of paleoseismicity. The areal extent must be based on an appreciation that the tectonic situation can cause seismically induced liquefaction effects to form in some locales, but not in others nearby, even for a strong earthquake in the region. Our guidelines for the conduct of the field search and preliminary analysis of the data relate to three issues for which liquefaction features are especially useful in answering: Has there been strong Holocene/latest Pleistocene shaking in the region? Where was the tectonic source? And what was the strength of shaking? Understanding of the various factors that control the manifestations of liquefaction effects, which we present in this paper, is essential for developing credible answers to these questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-234
Number of pages26
JournalEngineering Geology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Earthquakes
  • Energy center
  • Liquefaction susceptibility
  • Paleoliquefaction
  • Paleoseismicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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