Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Robb E.S. Moss


This research consists of full-scale shake table tests to investigate liquefaction of sandy soils. Consideration of the potential and consequences of liquefaction is critical to the performance of any structure built in locations of high seismicity underlain by saturated granular materials as it is the leading cause of damage associated with ground failure. In certain cases the financial losses associated with liquefaction can significantly impact the financial future of an entire region.

Most liquefaction triggering studies are performed in the field where liquefaction has been previously observed, or in tabletop laboratory testing. The study detailed herein is a controlled laboratory test performed at full scale to allow for the measurement of field-scale index testing before and after cyclic loading. Testing was performed at the Parson’s geotechnical and Earthquake Laboratory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the 1-dimensional shake table with a mounted flexible walled testing apparatus. The testing apparatus, originally constructed for soil-structure interaction experiments utilizing soft clay was retrofitted for the purpose of studying liquefaction.

This research works towards comparing large-scale simple-shear liquefaction testing to small-scale simple-shear liquefaction testing of a #2/16 Monterey sand specimen. The bucket top was modified in order to apply a vertical load to the soil skeleton to replicate overburden soil conditions. Access ports were fitted into the bucket top for instrument cable access and to allow cone penetration testing before and after cyclic loading. A shear-wave generator was created to propagate shear waves into the sample for embedded accelerometers to measure small strain stiffness of the sample. Pore-pressure transducers were embedded in the soil sample to capture excess pore water pressure produced during liquefaction. Displacement transducers were attached to the bucket in order to measure shear strains during cyclic testing and to measure post-liquefaction volumetric deformations.

The results of this investigation provide an empirical basis to the behavior of excess pore water production, void re-distribution, shear wave velocity, shear strain and cone penetrometer tip resistance of #2/16 Monterey sand before, during, and after liquefaction in a controlled laboratory environment at full-scale.