Predicting Liquefaction in Near-Real-Time (NRT): An Assessment of Geospatial vs. Geotechnical Models During the Canterbury Earthquakes
Maurer, Brett W.
Bradley, Brendon A.
van Ballegooy, Sjoerd
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Semi-empirical models based on in-situ geotechnical tests have become the standard of practice for predicting soil liquefaction. Since the inception of the "simplified" cyclic-stress model in 1971, variants based on various in-situ tests have been developed, including the Cone Penetration Test (CPT). More recently, prediction models based soley on remotely-sensed data were developed. Similar to systems that provide automated content on earthquake impacts, these "geospatial" models aim to predict liquefaction for rapid response and loss estimation using readily-available data. This data includes (i) common ground-motion intensity measures (e.g., PGA), which can either be provided in near-real-time following an earthquake, or predicted for a future event; and (ii) geospatial parameters derived from digital elevation models, which are used to infer characteristics of the subsurface relevent to liquefaction. However, the predictive capabilities of geospatial and geotechnical models have not been directly compared, which could elucidate techniques for improving the geospatial models, and which would provide a baseline for measuring improvements. Accordingly, this study assesses the realtive efficacy of liquefaction models based on geospatial vs. CPT data using 9,908 case-studies from the 20102016 Canterbury earthquakes. While the top-performing models are CPT-based, the geospatial models perform relatively well given their simplicity and low cost. Although further research is needed (e.g., to improve upon the performance of current models), the findings of this study suggest that geospatial models have the potential to provide valuable first-order predictions of liquefaction occurence and consequence. Towards this end, performance assessments of geospatial vs. geotechnical models are ongoing for more than 20 additional global earthquakes.