Liquefaction

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Liquefaction'

A loss of stability and strength in water-saturated soil due to violent ground movements caused by earthquakes or by explosions such as construction blasts. Liquefaction is a major problem when the soil is supporting a structure such as a building, because the soil becomes unable to support the weight of the building and the building will be severely damaged or destroyed. A building may be structurally sound enough to withstand the shaking of an earthquake, but then be destroyed by liquefaction.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Liquefaction'

In addition to buildings, liquefaction can ruin roads, railways, airport runways, dams and anything else that sits on the ground. It can also damage below-ground utilities. Liquefaction can cause landslides, settlement and eruptions of mud or water from the ground. To understand liquefaction, think of how quicksand, a type of liquefied soil, works.

Soil type, the depth of ground water and the probability of earthquakes determine the risk of liquefaction in a particular area. For example, certain areas of Utah are at high risk of liquefaction because they have sandy soil that is easily saturated by shallow groundwater and there is a high risk of moderate to severe earthquakes. Locations near rivers, streams and lakes are also more prone to liquefaction.

Improving the soil through drainage or compaction and carefully designing building foundations can reduce susceptibility to property damaged caused by liquefaction. Specialized maps created by geologists show the probability of liquefaction in a particular area, and examining these maps prior to building and avoiding areas shown to have higher liquefaction risks is another way to limit damage from liquefaction. Liquefaction hazard and liquefaction susceptibility maps are available to the public for free from the United States Geological Survey. These maps provide a general overview of liquefaction risk in an area; a geologist or geotechnical engineer can evaluate the liquefaction risk of a specific parcel of property. Liquefaction hazards must be disclosed when real property is sold to make the buyer aware of one of the risks of ownership.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Captive Real Estate Investment ...

    A real estate investment trust (REIT) that is controlled by a ...
  2. Disaster Relief Act

    A United States federal law passed in 1974 that laid down the ...
  3. Real Estate Short Sale

    Any sale of real estate that generates proceeds that are less ...
  4. Rental Real Estate Loss Allowance

    A federal tax deduction of up to $25,000 that is available to ...
  5. Real Estate Settlement Procedures ...

    This act was designed to protect potential homeowners and enable ...
  6. Real Estate Mortgage Investment ...

    A special purpose vehicle (SPV) that is used to pool mortgage ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Suppose my garage collapsed onto my car. Are damages covered by my home insurance ...

    Generally, damage to an automobile will be covered by comprehensive car insurance, which is in addition to collision coverage ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is a "force majeure"?

    A force majeure is derived from the French term meaning "greater force" and refers to any natural and unavoidable catastrophe. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Deducting Disaster: Casualty And Theft Losses

    If you've been a victim, your losses may be deductible. Find out how.
  2. Personal Finance

    Eight Financial Safeguards If Disaster Strikes

    In an emergency like a fire, hurricane, flood, tornado or earthquake, you may not be able to protect your home. But you can take steps to avoid financial disaster.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Home Loans For Disaster Recovery

    There are numerous government programs available for people who need financial help recovering from a household disaster.
  4. Investing Basics

    A Primer For Investing In Agriculture

    In this article, we'll look at the agriculture sector and the different ways investors can approach it.
  5. Home & Auto

    Nonfreehold Estates In Real Property

    If you have an interest in real estate, read on to find out which type of property you have.
  6. Home & Auto

    Encumbrances And Nonpossessory Interests In Real Property

    Learn about nonpossessory interests and the various forms of encumbrances.
  7. Personal Finance

    The Financial Effects Of A Natural Disaster

    Despite advances in building and infrastructure, we're all subject to Mother Nature's whims - and the damage can have far-reaching effects.
  8. Taxes

    The Real Cost Of Natural Disasters

    Earthquakes, hurricanes, oil spills and other disasters have a very real cost, but who foots the bill?
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    The Economics Of Natural Disasters

    Even natural disasters that take place thousands of miles away can shake up your portfolio here at home.
  10. Fundamental Analysis

    A Disaster-Protection Plan For Your Portfolio

    If you can't predict the future, you'll need to plan ahead to protect your assets from the impact of major world events.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Unfair Claims Practice

    The improper avoidance of a claim by an insurer or an attempt to reduce the size of the claim. By engaging in unfair claims ...
  2. Killer Bees

    An individual or firm that helps a company fend off a takeover attempt. A killer bee uses defensive strategies to keep an ...
  3. Sin Tax

    A state-sponsored tax that is added to products or services that are seen as vices, such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling. ...
  4. Grandfathered Activities

    Nonbank activities, some of which would normally not be permissible for bank holding companies and foreign banks in the United ...
  5. Touchline

    The highest price that a buyer of a particular security is willing to pay and the lowest price at which a seller is willing ...
  6. Himalayan Option

    An exotic equity option belonging to a class known as mountain range options. Himalayan options are based on a basket of ...
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!