United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Technical Bases for Regulatory Guide for Soil Liquefaction (NUREG/CR-5741)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: October 1999
Date Published: March 2000

Prepared by:
J. P. Koester, M. K. Sharp, M. E. Hynes

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
3909 Halls Ferry Road
Vicksburg, MS 39180-6199

E. G. Zurflueh, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Engineering Technology
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code W6246

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This document provides technical bases for development of a new U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Guide for evaluation of the potential for earthquake-induced liquefaction at nuclear facility sites, compiling current and state of the art techniques. The report summarizes the processes of acquiring and using geological, geophysical, geotechnical, and other kinds of relevant information that support design considerations with respect to liquefaction hazard and that may affect the construction or performance of a building or other engineered structure at selected sites. A historical perspective is provided to define liquefaction phenomena observed during earthquakes and to support identification of soil characteristics associated with liquefaction. Guidance is presented for site characterization studies, including the various in situ tests available for liquefaction potential evaluation. Screening techniques are described for preliminary hazard assessment; progressively more detailed procedures are presented to provide for investigations that are judged necessary once screening procedures identify soils that may pose a hazard to important facilities. Deterministic procedures are treated in this report; probabilistic approaches are detailed in a separate report, prepared by Dr. Mary E. Hynes of the U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station.

This document is not intended to serve as a definitive manual; some specific recommendations are offered, however, it was the purpose of the authors to allow for engineering judgment, thus it is more comprehensive as a reference document. An example problem is included to illustrate the evaluation of liquefaction triggering and estimation of residual strength of liquefied soils. Current practice for evaluation and estimation of permanent deformations caused to earthen structures is discussed; deformations accompanying liquefaction are included, but limited to those resulting from inertial movements during shaking. Large, permanent deformations that may result from gravity slumping are not discussed; estimation of very large deformations is not a well-established process and is a subject of ongoing research.

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