Liquefaction-induced lateral spread displacements cause severe damage to infrastructure, resulting in large economic losses in affected regions. Predicting lateral spread displacements is an important aspect in any seismic analysis and design, and many different methods have been developed to accurately estimate these displacements. However, the inherent uncertainty in predicting seismic events, including the extent of liquefaction and its effects, makes it difficult to accurately estimate lateral spread displacements. Current conventional methods of predicting lateral spread displacements do not completely account for uncertainty, unlike a performance-based earthquake engineering (PBEE) approach that accounts for the all inherent uncertainty in seismic design. The PBEE approach incorporates complex probability theory throughout all aspects of estimating liquefaction-induced lateral spread displacements. A new fully-probabilistic PBEE method, based on results from the cone penetration test (CPT), was created for estimating lateral spread displacements using two different liquefaction triggering procedures. To accommodate the complexity of all probabilistic calculations, a new seismic hazard analysis tool, CPTLiquefY, was developed. Calculated lateral spread displacements using the new fully-probabilistic method were compared to estimated displacements using conventional methods. These comparisons were performed across 20 different CPT profiles and 10 cities of varying seismicity. The results of this comparison show that the conventional procedures of estimating lateral spread displacements are sufficient for areas of low seismicity and for lower return periods. However, by not accounting for all uncertainties, the conventional methods under-predict lateral spread displacements in areas of higher seismicity. This is cause for concern as it indicates that engineers in industry using the conventional methods are likely under-designing structures to resist lateral spread displacements for larger seismic events.



College and Department

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

Date Submitted


Document Type





cone penetration test (CPT), CPTLiquefY, deterministic, earthquake, lateral spread displacement, liquefaction, performance-based, probabilistic, seismic hazard