A major concern for geotechnical engineers is the ability to predict how a soil will react to large ground motions produced by earthquakes. Of all the different types of soil, liquefiable soils present some of the greatest challenges. The ability to quantify the degradation of a soil's shear modulus as it undergoes liquefaction would help engineers design more reliably and economically. This thesis uses ground motions recorded by an array of downhole accelerometers on Port Island, Japan, during the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, to quantify the shear modulus of sand as it liquefies. It has been shown that the shear modulus of sand decreases significantly as it liquefies, apparently decreasing in proportion to the increasing excess pore water pressure ratio (Ru). When completely liquefied, the shear modulus of sand (Ru = 1.0) for a relative density of 40 to 50% is approximately 15% of the high-strain modulus of the sand in its non-liquefied state, or 1% of its initial low-strain value. Presented in this thesis is an approach to modeling the shear modulus degradation of sand as it liquefies. This approach, called the "degrading shear modulus backbone curve method" reasonably predicts the hysteretic shear stress behavior of the liquefied sand. The shear stresses and ground accelerations computed using this method reasonably matches those recorded at the Port Island Downhole Array (PIDA) site. The degrading shear modulus backbone method is recommended as a possible method for conducting ground response analyses at sites with potentially liquefiable soils.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





geotechnical engineering, geotechnical, earthquake, earthquake engineering, liquefaction, liquefying sand, shear modulus, modeling, earthquake modeling, shear modulus degradation, acceleration time history, velocity time history, displacement time history, ground motions, liquefiable soils, backbone curve, Port Island Downhole Array, 1995 Kobe earthquake, excess pore pressure ratio, response spectrum, equivalent linear method, nonlinear method, stress-strain loop, hysteretic loop, NERA