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Green and Mitchell (2004). Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. Yegian and E.

Kavazanjian, ed.), ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. 126, Vol. 2, 1961-1970.

ENERGY-BASED EVALUATION AND REMEDIATION OF LIQUEFIABLE
SOILS
Russell A. Green, P.E., Member, Geo-Institute1,
James K. Mitchell, P.E., Member, Geo-Institute2

ABSTRACT: The states-of-practice for performing remedial ground densification
and evaluating earthquake liquefaction potential of loose saturated sands have
evolved relatively independent of each other. This is in spite of the fact that the
induction of liquefaction is typically requisite for remedial ground densification of
sands. Simple calculations are presented herein for estimating the mechanical energy
required to densify a unit volume of clean, loose sand using deep dynamic
compaction, vibro-compaction, and explosive compaction. These computed energies
are compared with that required to induce liquefaction during an earthquake using the
Green-Mitchell energy based liquefaction evaluation procedure. The comparison
highlights the importance of the efficiency of the method in which the energy is
imparted to the soil and the importance of the mode of dissipation of the imparted
energy (e.g., possible modes of energy dissipation/expenditure include: breaking
down of initial soil structure, ramming soil particles into denser packing, and
radiating away from the treatment zone). Additionally, the comparison lays the
preliminary groundwork for incorporating the vast knowledge base gained from
fundamental studies on earthquake induced liquefaction into the design procedures of
remedial ground densification techniques.
INTRODUCTION
Various techniques have been developed to mitigate the risk of ground failure
resulting from liquefaction, including remedial ground densification by deep dynamic
1

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, Department of Civil and
Environmental Eng., 2372 G.G. Brown Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2125,
rugreen@engin.umich.edu
2
University Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Eng., Blacksburg, VA
24061-0105
1

e. vibro-compaction.g. In addition to increasing relative density. The predicted requisite energy for the induction of liquefaction in loose.. Similarly to the design procedures for soil improvement techniques. and explosive compaction. However. is compared with the mechanical energy typically used to densify a unit volume of the same soil using deep dynamic compaction. The premise of the comparison is that the physical process of inducing liquefaction is the same. Figure 1) using deep dynamic compaction. Kayen and Mitchell 1997. vibro-compaction. the earthquake load and the ability of a soil to resist liquefaction are quantified in terms of dissipated energy per unit volume of soil. 1994.. defined as 5% double amplitude axial strain in cyclic triaxial 2 . which further reduces the liquefaction susceptibility of the soil. Figueroa et al. vibro-compaction. Davis and Berrill 1982. Law et al. ed. Nemat-Nasser and Shokooh 1979.. Vol.g. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. 126. The term “mechanical energy” refers to the energy that is available to do mechanical work. clean sand during an earthquake using the Green-Mitchell energy based liquefaction evaluation procedure (Green 2001). and explosive compaction. Green 2001). 1998. simple calculations are presented for estimating the mechanical energy required to densify a unit volume of loose. The bases of the design procedures for deep dynamic compaction. 1990. For comparison purposes. and explosive compaction are largely empirical and involve indices that are related to the energy imparted to the soil (e. vibrocompaction. In this procedure. 2. thus allowing the particles to rearrange to a denser packing concurrent with the dissipation of excess pore pressures. The distinction between the energies can be understood by considering deep dynamic compaction. EARTHQUAKE INDUCED LIQUEFACTION Several energy based liquefaction evaluation procedures have been proposed that quantify the seismic load imposed on the soil in terms of an energy index.Green and Mitchell (2004). One such procedure is the Green-Mitchell energy based liquefaction evaluation procedure (Green 2001). a controlled liquefaction is induced. the potential energy of the tamper at its drop height is used to approximate the (mechanical) energy per drop imparted to the soil. 1961-1970. as opposed to energy expended in other forms (e. Ostadan et al. Yegian and E. to avoid need for consideration of such things as the efficiency of the crane’s combustion engine..g. The total energy expended during deep dynamic compaction could be quantified in terms of the fuel consumed by the crane that lifts the tamper. All of these techniques involve imparting energy into the soil to breakdown the initial soil structure as a first step in the densification process. Trifunac 1995. When applied to saturated sand. and explosive compaction. deep dynamic compaction and vibro-compaction often significantly increase the lateral effective confining stress in the densified soil. for explosive compaction: weight of the explosive charge per unit volume of densified soil). heat).). Kavazanjian. briefly discussed below. Zone 1 soils. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. where the latter is computed by integrating the stress-strain hysteresis loops up to initial liquefaction. clean sand (i. compaction. liquefaction evaluation procedures have been proposed that quantify the earthquake load imposed on the soil in terms of energy indices (e. irrespective of whether the input energy is from earthquake shaking or remedial ground densification techniques.

03 to 0. and the drop height ranges from 12. Zone 1 soils (i. it became formalized as an approach for ground densification in the late 1960's and has been referred to in literature as heavy tamping.Green and Mitchell (2004). However. Green (2001) developed a correlation relating the dissipated energy per unit volume requisite to induce liquefaction to corrected standard penetration test N-values (N1.e. If a greater depth of improvement is required. only about 67% of this energy is transformed into mechanical energy (Kennedy 1996). Deep Dynamic Compaction Deep dynamic compaction consists of the repeated dropping of heavy weights (or tampers) on the ground being densified.60 from 5 to 15 blows/ft ranges from 0. Similarly. From calorimeter measurements.2 Mg. and Zone 3 soils are the least suitable. dynamic consolidation. upon detonation.9 to 27. the energy density of TNT is approximately 4560 J/g. the charges are usually placed at a depth between one-half and three-quarters the thickness of the layer being treated. with subsequent densification occurring concurrent with the dissipation of excess pore pressures. explosive compaction breaks down the soil structure by imparting energy into the ground. with charge weights between 2 and 15 kg (Mitchell and Gallagher 1998). The quantity of explosive required to densify a unit volume of soil by deep explosive compaction is given in Van Impe and Madhav (1995) as ranging from 15 to 35 g/m3. Using the Green-Mitchell correlation. the dissipated energy required to induce liquefaction in a soil confined at an effective pressure of 100 kPa and having N1. with a depth of two-thirds the layer thickness being common. From the analysis of earthquake case histories. Accordingly. from the case histories listed in Ivanov (1967). the mechanical energy used for densification of a unit volume of soil by explosive compaction is estimated to range from 22 to 100 kJ/m3. General guidelines for estimating the amount of energy required for densifying various soils by deep dynamic compaction are given in Table 1. 3 . a range of 8 to 28 g/m3 can be reasonably assumed. Yegian and E.2 to 30. clean sands) are the most suitable for treatment by deep dynamic compaction. For soil layers less than 10 m thick.60). Although the origin of this technique dates back to the Romans. Kavazanjian. Figure 1 shows the range of grain-size distributions suitable for densification by deep dynamic compaction.. 1961-1970. The mass of the tamper generally ranges from 5. 1999). REMEDIAL DENSIFICATION TECHNIQUES Explosive Compaction Similarly to earthquake induced liquefaction.5 m (Lukas 1995).4 to 27.). Vol. This will result in a maximum improvement depth of about 11 m. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. 2. 126.4 m. 1999). ed. and deep dynamic compaction (Elias et al. A typical blasting program consists of charges placed in a grid pattern spaced 3 to 8 m in developed areas and 8 to 15 m in remote areas. specimens and the manifestation of surfacial liquefaction features in the field. The heaviest tamper that can be lifted with conventional equipment is about 16 Mg with a drop height of 22. specialized equipment can be used to lift and drop 27 Mg tampers from a height of 30 m for a predicted improvement depth of about 14 m (Elias et al. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M.192 kJ/m3.

Acp = tributary area per compaction point (m2). Vibro-Compaction Vibro-compaction is a general term for densification techniques characterized by the insertion of long probes into the ground followed by compaction by probe 4 . Standard Sieve Numbers 4 40 200 Silt or Clay fine FIG. A "pass" is the dropping of the tamper at designated grid points for a predetermined number of times. Improvement by deep dynamic compaction includes both an increase in the density of the treated zone.75 mm 0. Ip > 8 Permeability less than 30 10-8 m/sec 40 70 60 Zone 1 Pervious Soils Plasticity Index (Ip) = 0 Permeability Greater than 10-5 m/sec 50 40 30 20 10 0 4.001 mm 0. N = number of drops per pass. 126. M = mass of tamper (tonnes: 1 tonne = 1 Mg). 0 90 10 80 Zone 3 20 Impervious Soils. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M.Green and Mitchell (2004). From Table 1. H = drop height (m). the mechanical energy required to densify Zone 1 soil ranges from 200 to 250 kJ/m3. P = number of passes. Yegian and E.). Vol. 2. AE = applied energy (kJ/m2). 1.075 mm Percent Coarser by Weight Percent Finer by Weight 100 U.005 mm 0.S. The cumulative amount of potential energy of the drops applied per unit area of the site may be determined by the following expression: AE = N ⋅M ⋅g⋅H ⋅P Acp (1) In this expression.81m/sec2). as well as a considerable increase in lateral effective confining stress. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. 1961-1970.5 mm Sand coarse medium 50 60 70 Zone 2 Semi-Pervious 80 Soils 0 < Ip < 8 Permeability in the Range 90 of 10-5 to 10-8 m/sec 100 0. Kavazanjian. ed. (Adapted from Lukas 1986). g = acceleration due to gravity (9. Zone 1 soils are most suitable for deep dynamic compaction. Grouping of soils for dynamic compaction.

. The location of the vibrator on the probe. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. torsional). The average rate of work (i. In this paper.g. vibration during withdrawal. E = phase-to-phase voltage requirement of 5 .180 Note: Standard Proctor energy equals 600 kJ/m3 As described in Brown (1977) and D’Appolonia (1953). and whether backfill is used distinguishes the various vibro-compaction techniques.41 Semi-pervious fine-grained soils (Zone 2) and Clay fills above the water table (Zone 3) 250 . Applied energy guidelines for densifying various soils..1 in Degen and Hussin (2001). As may be observed from this figure. I = average line current (amps). ed.g.Green and Mitchell (2004). The penetration time was just over one minute. the compaction process begins and is designated in this figure as t = 0 min. 126. 2. Yegian and E. The probes are typically hung from cranes or masts and are sunk to the desired treatment depth using vibratory methods. the direction of the induced vibrations (e.).350 41 . 1961-1970.. for electrically driven motors the current draw of the vibrator is used as an indicator of the compaction process effectiveness: the current draw increases as the soil densifies. power) (kW. This process is illustrated in the current log shown in Figure 2.250 33 . After reaching 8 m. horizontal. The probe is raised in 0. When the current draw "peaks".e. See Figure 1 for the definitions of the soil Zones. P = average rate of work performed by vibroflot (i. often supplemented by water jets at the tip (Mitchell 1981). at which point. Puchstein et al.1100 100 . vertical. power) done in a soil by a vibroflot with a 3-phase electric motor can be estimated as: P = I ⋅ E ⋅ pf ⋅ eff ⋅ 3 1000 (e. with one updown flushing of the machine after reaching 4 m.. 1954) (2) In this expression. kJ/sec). the current draw drops and compaction begins again. (Adapted from Lukas 1986).5 m intervals and held at each position for about 45 sec. Applied Energy Percent per Volume Standard (kJ/m3) Proctor Energy Type of Deposit Pervious coarse-grained soil (Zone 1) 200 . ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. Kavazanjian. the vibroflot rapidly penetrates the soil profile to the desired treatment depth of 8 m. The combined vibrator and extension tubes are referred to as the vibroflot. Vol. the equipment configuration considered is that in which the vibrator is located inside the probe and induces lateral and torsional vibrations.e.4. TABLE 1. the vibroflot is raised to the next location.60 Landfills 600 . which was adapted from a figure given in Section 4.

This is in reasonable agreement with the typical rate of 0. respectively. portion of the electrical power consumed by the motor that is available to do mechanical work.5 m). ≈ 0. Based on the average current draw and the amplitude of the peaks. The average current draws for the top and bottom layers are estimated to be about 140 amps and 115 amps. 126. the rate of work performed.37 m/min (i.5 m Insertion of probe 140 amps 115 amps 0 Time (minutes) 1 min FIG. and the tributary area per compaction point. the rates of work (P) performed by the vibroflot in the top and bottom layers are estimated to be about 77 and 63 kW. Current log recorded during vibro-compaction. respectively. From Figure 2. pf = average power factor (≈ 0. Yegian and E. (Adapted from Degen and Hussin 2001).. Using the specifications of the vibrator employed (i.).e. the probe was withdrawn from the ground at 2. the mechanical energy required to densify a unit volume of soil can be determined. the withdrawal rate is estimated to be about 0. 2.5–8 m. Vol. (8–2. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. Kavazanjian.5 m 5. Vibro V23 vibrator: 440 volts) in conjunction with Eq. ed. Knowing the rate of probe withdrawal.. the profile may be considered as consisting of two layers: 2.9).5 m)/15 min. vibrator (volts).3 m/min given in 6 .5–5.Green and Mitchell (2004). Current (amps) 100 130 160 0 5 10 Extraction of probe 10 15 70 Depth (m) 5 Flushing of machine 8m 2. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. (2).8).e.5 m and 5. eff = efficiency of electric motor (i. 1961-1970..e. 2.

126. the threshold strain concept (Dobry et al. 1982). the range in the mechanical energy expended to treat a unit volume of soil in the profile corresponding to the current log shown in Figure 2 is: ⎛ min 60 sec ⎞ 1 ⎟⎟ ⋅ = 1362 to 1665 kJ / m 3 ⋅ 2 ⎝ 0. may be used to compute the amount of energy that is dissipated in the treated zone and the amount that radiates away from the treated zone.192 kJ/m3 Explosive Compaction: 22 to 100 kJ/m3 Deep Dynamic Compaction: 200 to 250 kJ/m3 Vibro-Compaction: 1362 to 1665 kJ/m3 A direct comparison of these energy ranges is not appropriate for two reasons. Kavazanjian." much of the energy dissipates via radiating away from the immediate zone being treated (i. For example. The radiated energy does not contribute to breaking down the initial soil structure in the treated zone. Also. Fellin (2000) estimated that approximately 90% of the mechanical energy imparted to the soil by vibroflotation (i.e.37 m min ⎠ 7. Finally.5 m (63 to 77 kW ) ⋅ ⎜⎜ The mode of improvement of soil by vibro-compaction is both densification and significant increase in lateral confining stress. While. which ultimately results in the increased lateral confining stress.e. 2. For the project under consideration. all the mechanical energy imparted to the soil by the densification techniques "dissipates.). ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No.. The second reason a direct comparison is not appropriate is that both deep dynamic compaction and vibro-compaction involve imparting energy into the soil beyond that which is required to induce liquefaction. more so than the increase in lateral stress that occurs from deep dynamic compaction.5 m2 (≈ 80 ft2). First the Green-Mitchell energy based liquefaction evaluation procedure quantifies the ability of a soil to resist liquefaction in terms of energy dissipated primarily through frictional mechanisms resulting from inter-particle slippage (Green 2001). Mitchell (1981). DISCUSSION A summary of the range of energy per unit volume required to induce liquefaction in clean sand by earthquake shaking and the ranges of energy per unit volume used to densify clean sand by the three remedial ground densification techniques is given below. Yegian and E. ultimately. ed. it needs to be noted that the energies 7 . A large portion of this additional energy is expended "ramming" the soil particles into a denser packing. radiation damping). Vol. 1961-1970. the tributary area per compaction point is estimated to be about 7. Earthquake Liquefaction: 0. in conjunction with empirical attenuation relations for the respective remedial densification techniques. As outlined in Green (2001).Green and Mitchell (2004). vibro-compaction using a vibroflot) is dissipated via radiation damping. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M.03 to 0. while total mechanical energy inputs are listed for the densification techniques..

1961-1970. P-waves propagate through the pore fluid.. 2. Rayleigh wave energy is carried near the surface and may not reach the soil being treated).g. The significantly larger range of energy listed for explosive compaction. while P-waves transmit the majority of the blasting energy. insights can be gained from a relative comparison these ranges. On the contrary. as with deep dynamic compaction. these energies inherently include a factor of safety. Furthermore.e. Analogous to deep dynamic compaction is explosive compaction where the charge is placed at the surface of the soil profile. computed for the remedial densification techniques were computed using standard design guidelines. And. irrespective of whether the energy is imparted by the earthquake shaking or the detonation of an explosive. For deep dynamic compaction. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. The range of energy listed for earthquake liquefaction should be viewed as that required to induce initial liquefaction if almost all the mechanical energy imparted to the soil contributes to the breakdown of the soil structure. Vol. Although a direct comparison of the above energy ranges may not be appropriate. which if of sufficient amplitude result in slippage between soil particles. in vibro-compaction. 126. during which time the majority of the imparted energy is expended inducing vibrations in the already liquefied soil. which translates into a larger amount of energy than that which is minimally required to induce liquefaction/densify the soil. it is believed that a significant portion of the energy imparted to the soil by deep dynamic compaction is expended ramming soil particles into denser packing. and radiate away from the immediate zone being treated. Furthermore. vibro-compaction improves the ground by both densifying the soil and increasing the lateral confining pressure. rather than just inducing liquefaction.g. S-waves transmit the majority of the energy in earthquake motions of engineering interest. The latter improvement largely results from the lateral compaction of 8 . Consequently. Yegian and E. as opposed to buried deep within the profile. As stated above.Green and Mitchell (2004). relative to that for earthquake liquefaction. From the case histories listed in Ivanov (1967). Rayleigh waves) and P-waves (e.. a large portion of the energy is carried by surface waves (e. ed. Accordingly. Rayleigh waves significantly decrease in amplitude with depth in the profile (i. Finally. Kavazanjian. during which the properties of the soil are continually changing. Richart et al.). is related to the wave types that transmit the mechanical energy. 1970). The initial breakdown of the soil structure and subsequent densification of the soil concurrent with the dissipation of excess pore pressures is similar for earthquake liquefaction and explosive compaction.. the energy is imparted over a relatively long time span. the energy range to densify soil by surface blasting is comparable to deep dynamic compaction. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. A large portion of the P-wave energy propagates through the pore fluid and radiates away from the immediate zone being treated. When liquefaction is induced in the soil immediately surrounding the probe. non-liquefied soil. S-waves can only be transmitted in the soil skeleton. the quantity of explosives required to densify a unit volume of soil by surface blasting is approximately five to ten times greater than required for deep blasting. little energy is transferred from the probe to the outer.

W.A. Degen. Wanda Cameron and the two anonymous reviewers are appreciated. NBS Building Science Series 138. J. (1977). 138-162.M.. R. 10: 59-68. D. Davis. VA. D’Appolonia. and Lucas. Netherlands. R. June 10. Rutteldruckverdichtung als plastodynamisches problem (Deep vibration compaction as plastodynamic problem). A.Y. on Dynamic Testing of Soils. Ladd. J. 103(GT12).Green and Mitchell (2004). "Energy Dissipation and Seismic Liquefaction in Sands. SUNY Buffalo. Washington. NY: Geotechnical Rehabilitation: Site and Foundation Remediation #MCEER-01-2033. Yegian and E. 1. R. Balkema. Kavazanjian.. Ground Improvement Technical Summaries. ed. (1999). and Berrill. 156. Vol. 2." J. "Loose Sands – Their Compaction by Vibroflotation. 1437-1451. Rotterdam.O. 2001. W. V. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication No. ASTM Special Technical Publication No. the energy range listed above reflects both the energy required to induce liquefaction in the virgin profile and the energy expended to laterally compact the backfill material. (2001). Report No. 56th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Testing Materials. Elias. and Powell.D. 89p. Dobry. PA. Demonstration Project 116. R. Prediction of Pore Water Pressure Buildup and Liquefaction of Sands During Earthquakes by the Cyclic Strain Method. 152p. ASCE. The authors gratefully acknowledge this support." Symp. Philadelphia. E. Also.S. (1982). FHWA-SA98-086. "Soil Densification: Short Course Notes.S. (1953).B. R. Yokel. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Financial support this research was provide in part by the Multi-Disciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER). "Vibroflotation Compaction of Cohesionless Soils. the review comments by Ms. and Hussin.E. (in German) 9 .. R. This finding is important for proper incorporation of the knowledge base gained from fundamental studies on earthquake liquefaction into energy-based design procedures for remedial ground densification techniques and lays preliminary groundwork for unifying two sub-disciplines of geotechnical engineering. 1961-1970. Accordingly. Welsh. backfill. Geotech. Blacksburg." Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics. Chung. F. Warren. (1982).. J. 126. Federal Highway Administration. REFERENCES Brown... Vol. DC. Fellin.. (2000). Div. CONCLUSIONS The comparison of the range of energy per unit volume required to induce liquefaction in clean sand by earthquake shaking and the ranges of energy per unit volume used to densify clean sand by the three remedial ground densification techniques highlights the significance of both the efficiency of the method in which the energy is transmitted to the soil and the mode in which the energy is dissipated/expended in the soil. Engrg. 216p. US Department of Commerce.)." taught in conjunction with the ASCE Geo-Odyssey Conference.. Geotechnical Engineering for Transportation Projects (M. J.

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