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U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1551-B

Prepared in cooperation with the National Science Foundation

The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989—Liquefaction

Edited by Thomas L. Holzer


photo showing sand boils in a plowed field

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake both reconfirmed the vulnerability of areas in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay region to liquefaction and provided an opportunity to test methodologies for predicting liquefaction that have been developed since the mid-1970's. This vulnerability is documented in the chapter edited by O’Rourke and by the investigators in this chapter who describe case histories of liquefaction damage and warn us about the potential for even greater damage from liquefaction if an earthquake similar to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but located closer to their study sites, were to occur.

This publication consists of the following articles:

  • Introduction, by Thomas L. Holzer

  • Liquefaction characteristics of San Francisco bayshore fills, by Jean Lou A. Chameau, G. Wayne Clough, J. David Frost, and Fernando A.M. Reyna

  • Soil liquefaction in the east bay during the earthquake, by Robert E. Kayen, James K. Mitchell, Raymond B. Seed, and Shin'ya Nishio

  • Analysis of liquefaction-induced damage on Treasure Island, by Maurice S. Power, John A. Egan, Scott E. Shewbridge, John deBecker, and J. Richard Faris

  • Sand boils and settlement on Treasure Island after the earthquake, by Michael J. Bennett

  • Liquefaction at Moss Landing, by Lelio H. Mejia

  • Observations of multiple liquefaction events at Soda Lake, California, during the earthquake and its aftershocks, by John D. Sims and Cristofer D. Garvin

  • Postearthquake investigations at liquefaction sites in Santa Cruz and on Treasure Island, by Roman D. Hryciw, Scott E. Shewbridge, Alan Kropp, and Matthew Homolka

  • Direct measurement of liquefaction potential in soils of Monterey County, California, by Wayne A. Charlie, Donald O. Doehring, Jeffrey P. Brislawn, and Hassen Hassen

  • Comparison of computed and measured liquefaction-induced settlements in the Marina District, San Francisco, California, by Kyle M. Rollins and Michael D. McHood

  • Improved-ground performance during the earthquake, by James K. Mitchell and Frederick J. Wentz, Jr.

  • Evaluation of liquefaction hazard mapping in the Monterey Bay Area, Central California, by William R. Dupré and John C. Tinsley, III

  • Appendix: Maps and descriptions of liquefaction and associated effects, by John C. Tinsley, III, John A. Egan, Robert E. Kayen, Michael J. Bennett, Alan Kropp, and Thomas L. Holzer


    Plate 1, Locations of ground failure features and distress to facilities on Treasure Island from the earthquake.

    Plate 2, Liquefaction and associated effects in the San Francisco Bay area from the earthquake.

    Plate 3, Liquefaction and associated effects in the Monterey Bay area from the earthquake.

Download the text of this publication as a 311-page PDF file (pp1551b.pdf; 52.6 MB)

Download Plate 1 as a ~36"x38" PDF file (pp1551b_plate1.pdf; 22.4 MB)

Download Plate 2 as a ~38"x36" PDF file (pp1551b_plate2.pdf; 21 MB)

Download Plate 3 as a ~41"x31" PDF file (pp1551b_plate3.pdf; 15.7 MB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Tom Holzer

This publication is part of the set of four multi-chapter USGS Professional Papers on the Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989:

Professional Paper 1550, Earthquake Occurrence , Coordinators: William H. Bakun and William H. Prescott

Professional Paper 1551, Strong Ground Motion and Ground Failure, Coordinator: Thomas L. Holzer

Professional Paper 1552, Performance of the Built Environment, Coordinator, Thomas L. Holzer

Professional Paper 1553, Societal Response, Coordinator: Dennis S. Mileti

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Created: July 13, 2006
Last modified: July 13, 2006 (mfd)