Awarded as the best online publication by CIDC

Does liquefaction occur to sand only?

In liquefaction, the pore water pressure builds up steadily and eventually approaches a value equal to the confining pressure. In an earthquake, however, there is not enough time for the water in the pores of the soil to be squeezed out. Instead, the water is trapped and this avoids the soil particles from moving closer together. Consequently, this results in an increase in water pressure which reduces the contact forces between the individual soil particles, thereby softening and weakening the soil. Eventually, soils particles lose contact with each other and behave like a liquid.


Hence, the type of soils which is susceptible to liquefaction is the one like sand whose resistance to deformation is mobilized by frictional forces between particles under confining pressure. In case the soil is fine grained, cohesive forces tends to develop between these fine particles and it is difficult to separate them. Therefore, sand with increasing content of fines tends to increase its resistance to liquefaction.

The consequence of liquefaction is that the subsequent settlements after liquefaction may damage the overlying structures. Moreover, for sloping ground lateral flow may result which is undesirable. Liquefaction only occurs to saturated soils.


This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

Share this post

Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

If you have a query, you can ask a question here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ask a question