The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Seismic Response and Stability Analysis of Landfills


(1) Site-Specific Geological Evaluation


The following information critical for an earthquake resistant landfill design are to be determined prior to the design of a landfill:

(i) Pre-existing topographic maps of the project site

(ii) Aerial photographs of the project site

(iii) Tectonic fault maps in the vicinity of the project site

(iv) Historical seismic activity in the vicinity of the region and the project site

(v) Recent regional seismic source models

(vi) Geologic/soil maps

(vii) Subsurface information (soil investigation by test boring, well, and trench logs) in the project vicinity

(viii) Geophysical surveys (seismic and electromagnetic)

(ix) Liquefiable soils


          A special note on liquefaction: liquefaction is a factor that must be paid careful attention to during siting. Liquefaction is a phenomenon that occurs when loose sandy material is seismically loaded, causing a transient increase in pore water pressure. This causes loss of soil strength and can lead to major failures. Liquefaction may cause severe damage to the structural integrity of the landfills, like localized bearing capacity failures, lateral spreading, excessive settlements, and damage to liner and cover systems, and drainage systems. Sandy soils below the groundwater table are prone to liquefaction. When siting for the landfill or evaluating the soil conditions of the vicinity, liquefiable soils must be either avoided or mitigated. If liquefaction conditions are present or unavoidable, ground improvement methods, or  other mitigation techniques, may need to be implemented.


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