Harry Seed, Liquefaction & the Gravel Drain

by Choule J. Sonu, Pres.; Tekmarine, Inc., 41 East Foothill Blvd., Arcadia, CA 91006,
Hiroshi Oishi, NKK Corporation, Civ. Engrg. Dept., 2-1 Suehiro-Cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama 230, Tokyo, Japan,
Katsuhiko Ito, Director, Civil Design Development; Konoike Construction Co., 3-11, 2-Chome, Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 12, Pg. 58-60

Document Type: Feature article


The late Professor Seed of the University of California at Berkeley established criteria for gravel drain design in a 1977 ASCE paper. Without historical proof for its viability in a real earthquake, Japanese engineers followed Prof. Seed's recommendations and installed thousands of gravel drains as a main liquefaction defense in their country. The 1993 Kushiro Earthquake (magnitude 7.8) provided the long-awaited test to these gravel drains 15 years after the Japanese began installing them. The Kushiro Earthquake proved that gravel drains effectively prevent liquefaction. None of the port facilities protected by gravel drains suffered liquefaction damage during this major earthquake, whereas unprotected facilities in the port were heavily damaged by liquefaction. Following Dr. Seed's later recommendations to incorporate a soil densification feature to the standard gravel drain, Japanese engineers developed densification technology that better prevents liquefaction and also saves construction costs by allowing larger spacings between individual drains.

Subject Headings: Drainage | Soil liquefaction | Gravels | Earthquakes | Ports and harbors | Spacing | Professional societies

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