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New earthquake defense to be tested

Feb. 9, 2012 at 4:45 PM   |   Comments

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BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they're ready to field-test a new method of minimizing soil liquefaction in earthquakes to protect buildings and structures.

Soil liquefaction occurs when loose, water-saturated soils lose shear strength in response to sudden shaking from an earthquake and begin behaving like a liquid, reducing the ability to support the foundations of buildings and bridges

Engineers at Boise State University and colleagues said a technique called Induced Partial Saturation, or IPS, where non-hazardous chemicals are injected into the ground to create gas bubbles to reduce saturation, has worked in the lab and is ready for field-testing.

"The outcome of this research is far reaching, because it can be implemented in urban areas with a lot of infrastructure in place, which can have a worldwide impact on human safety and protection of properties from liquefaction hazard of earthquakes," Arvin Farid, a professor of civil engineering, said. "This is a very non-destructive method that will work in both places that have buildings and places that do not."

In field studies made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers will pump the non-hazardous chemical solution into different types of soils and measure the ability of the generated gas to mitigate the potential liquefaction caused by earthquakes, a Boise State release said Thursday.

Engineering researchers at Northeastern University, the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo are collaborating on the project with assistance from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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