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Award Abstract #1343524

RAPID: Field Investigation of Shallow Ground Improvement Methods for Inhibiting Liquefaction Triggering; Christchurch, New Zealand

Div Of Civil, Mechanical, & Manufact Inn
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Initial Amendment Date: June 5, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: June 5, 2013
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Award Number: 1343524
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Richard J. Fragaszy
CMMI Div Of Civil, Mechanical, & Manufact Inn
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: June 15, 2013
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End Date: May 31, 2015 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $197,996.00
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Investigator(s): Kenneth Stokoe k.stokoe@mail.utexas.edu (Principal Investigator)
Brady Cox (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Texas at Austin
101 E. 27th Street, Suite 5.300
Austin, TX 78712-1532 (512)471-6424
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NSF Program(s): Geotechnical Engineering and M
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Program Reference Code(s): 036E, 037E, 038E, 043E, 1057, 1576, 5941, 7914, CVIS
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Program Element Code(s): 1636


In 2010-2011, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes, including six significant events. The February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake (movement magnitude, Mw, 6.2) generated the largest ground motions in the city, with horizontal peak ground accelerations between 0.37 and 0.52 g. The 2010-2011 earthquakes caused repeated liquefaction throughout the suburbs of Christchurch. Some key observations and impacts are that: (1) liquefaction was particularly extensive and damaging along the meandering loops of the Avon River, now designated as part of the ?Red Zone? (zone where structures will not be rebuilt), (2) more than 6,000 residential properties are being abandoned in the ?Red Zone? because the damage is beyond economic repair, (3) an estimated additional 15,000 properties were affected by liquefaction, and (4) the total economic loss is estimated to be from 25 to 30 billion NZ dollars (or 15 to 18% of New Zealand?s GDP). One critical problem facing Christchurch and the Canterbury region is rebuilding on land that remains at risk of liquefaction in future earthquakes. This problem arises after nearly all earthquakes and little information exists on ground improvement methods that can be used to increase the resilience of residential structures and low-rise buildings in future earthquakes. Facing this critical, time-sensitive problem, the New Zealand authorities are contributing about $1M (NZ) to a project involving full-scale field test trials of shallow ground improvement methods. The goal is to determine if and which ground improvement methods achieve the objectives of inhibiting liquefaction triggering in the improved ground and are cost-effective measures. This new knowledge, which is applicable in the U.S. and worldwide, is rapidly needed as part formulating the path forward in rebuilding the infrastructure in Christchurch and the Canterbury region. The New Zealand funds support all technical and logistical aspects of the project except the liquefaction testing. The liquefaction testing will be conducted using the large mobile shaker, called T-Rex, that is operated by NEES@UTexas. T-Rex will be used to simulate a wide range of controlled earthquake shaking levels. This unique opportunity exists because T-Rex is already in Christchurch as a result of an earlier NEESR project involving deep seismic profiling. This work includes the collection and interpretation of a one-of-a-kind dataset that can be used in the design of shallow ground improvement methods to inhibit liquefaction triggering of saturated soils. This knowledge does not exist but has numerous applications in earthquake-prone areas in the U.S. and worldwide for residential structures and low-rise commercial buildings. Additionally, pore water pressure generation in nearly-saturated, liquefaction-prone soils will, for the first time, be collected in the field. This new knowledge will help develop a more comprehensive understanding of this risk and ways to mitigate it.

The broader impacts of this research are extensive. The study will impact the future Christchurch society at large through development of more robust seismic designs of residential structures for more than 15,000 homes. Furthermore, new knowledge will be developed for designing ground improvements to inhibit liquefaction triggering that will transfer directly to U.S. cities such as Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA, Memphis, TN, and Charleston, SC. The new knowledge will also transfer to earthquake-prone countries worldwide such as China, Chile, Haiti, Japan, Taiwan and Turkey. The work will strengthen international research collaborations and will provide U.S. graduate students with rewarding international travel experiences that will balance their technical education and e expose them to the globally-connected problems that still exist in earthquake engineering


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