Major Cause of Earthquake Damage is Ground Failure

by T. Leslie Youd, Research Civ. Engr.; U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1978, Vol. 48, Issue 4, Pg. 47-51


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Ground failure is one of the most destructive effects of large earthquakes. For example, about 60% of the damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake was a consequence of ground failure. The major types of ground failures generated by earthquakes include lateral spread, flow failures and bearing capacity failures—all caused by liquefaction-landslides caused by weakening of sensitive clays, and rock and soil slips and falls on steep slopes. These failure types and typical damage they produce are illustrated and engineering techniques for preventing or mitigating the damage are described. Evaluating the potential for ground failure, the danger it poses to a particular locality, and possible measures for preventing or mitigating the hazard is a primary element of earthquake engineering.

Subject Headings: Damage | Earthquakes | Failures | Landslides | Load bearing capacity | Soil liquefaction

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