The Plastic Brain

Soil Liquefaction


Soil liquefaction occurs during earthquakes, causing a quicksand-like bog which can topple buildings and swallow cars.

Liquefaction occurred during the recent Christchurch earthquake

Videos of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake liquefaction can be found here (during) and here (aftermath).

I got the idea for a soil liquefaction demonstration from the brilliant ASTA resources for the Year 9 plate tectonics unit. The instructions for the demonstration are in Lesson 4 on Earthquakes.

It worked very well. There are before and after shots below, and then a video.

IMG_1218b IMG_1220

Left: Before the earthquake. The building stands tall. Right: The building has collapsed, and is half submerged.

Author: Rogan Tinsley

Biology, science and maths teacher with a PhD in Neuroscience and passion for education.

2 thoughts on “Soil Liquefaction

  1. Looks fantastic Rogan! I imagine that it would really help the students to visualise what can happen. Did they seem to respond to it well?

    • Thanks Chris. They expected it to fall over, but liked that it became semi-submerged, too.
      I am putting together a motorised shake table earthquake simulator for testing foam buildings, as well. Will use an eccentric weight, similar to the units used to make mobile phones vibrate. Watch this space.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s