Scientists reveal how can earthquakes cause vast destruction in far areas

JERUSALEM, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Israeli and French researchers have found how could earthquakes often induce soil liquefaction that causes huge destruction in places far from the epicenter, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) said in a statement on Wednesday.

In the study, which was published in Nature Communications, researchers from HU and the University of Strasbourg found that the catastrophic phenomenon of soil liquefaction can occur even at considerably low levels of seismic-energy density .

The research provides a comprehensive explanation for earthquake far-field liquefaction events that have long puzzled scientists, according to the statement.

Soil liquefaction is one of the most catastrophic earthquake-related phenomena. It can cause structures, buildings, and other objects on the ground to sink, tilt, or experience other forms of deformation and lead to extensive human casualties, economic losses, and even the abandonment of inhabited areas.

So far, soil liquefaction has been connected to undrained conditions near earthquake epicenters. However, the new study shows that it can occur even in drained conditions at lower levels of seismic-energy density.

HU said that the findings empower the ability to conduct more precise assessments of soil liquefaction's potential and associated hazards, ultimately strengthening earthquake engineering and preparedness efforts, especially in earthquake-prone regions.

The study emphasized that seismic shaking, even under drained conditions, initiates interstitial fluid movement within the soil, resulting in the buildup of excessive pore pressure gradients, ultimately causing a loss of soil strength.

The researchers noted that drained liquefaction unfolds rapidly, guided by the propagation of a compaction front, with its speed determined by the rate of seismic-energy injection.

HU said that the new findings become even more relevant in an era of a constant rise in the development of reclaimed land and artificial islands, both of which are highly vulnerable to soil liquefaction.

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