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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.
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.