Liquefaction has always been intensely studied in parts of the world where earthquakes occur. However, the seismic activity is not the only possible cause of this phenomenon. It may in fact be triggered by some human activities, such as constructing and mining or by rail and road transport.
In the paper a road embankment built across a shallow water reservoir is analyzed in terms of susceptibility to liquefaction. Two types of dynamic loadings are considered: first corresponding to an operation of a vibratory roller and second to an earthquake.
In order to evaluate a susceptibility of soil to liquefaction, a factor of safety against triggering of liquefaction is used (FSTriggering). It is defined as a ratio of vertical effective stresses to the shear stresses both varying with time. For the structure considered both stresses are obtained using finite element method program, here Plaxis 2D. The plastic behavior of the cohesionless soils is modeled by means of Hardening Soil (HS) constitutive relationship, implemented in Plaxis software.
As the stress tensor varies with time during dynamic excitation, the FSTriggering has to be calculated for some particular moment of time when liquefaction is most likely to occur. For the purposes of this paper it is named a critical time and established for reference point at which the pore pressures were traced in time. As a result a factor of safety distribution throughout embankment is generated.
For the modeled structure, cyclic point loads (i.e., vibrating roller) present higher risk than earthquake of magnitude 5.4. Explanation why considered structure is less susceptible to earthquake than typical dam could lay in stabilizing and damping influence of water, acting here on both sides of the slope.
Analogical procedure is applied to assess liquefaction susceptibility of the road embankment considered but under earthquake excitation. Only the higher water table is considered as it is the most unfavorable.
Additionally the modified factor of safety is introduced, where the dynamic shear stress component is obtained at a time step when its magnitude is the highest - not necessarily at the same time step when the pore pressure reaches its peak (i.e., critical time). This procedure provides a greater margin of safety as the computed factors of safety are smaller.
Method introduced in the paper presents a clear and easy way to locate liquefied zones and estimate liquefaction susceptibility of the subsoil - not only in the road embankment.