The first Italian blast-induced liquefaction test (Mirabello, Emilia-Romagna, Italy): description of the experiment and preliminary results

Sara Amoroso, Giuliano Milana, Kyle M. Rollins, Cesare Comina, Luca Minarelli, Maria R. Manuel, Paola Monaco, Marco Franceschini, Marco Anzidei, Cameron Lusvardi, Luciana Cantore, Andrea Carpena, Stefano Casadei, Francesca R. Cinti, Riccardo Civico, Brady R. Cox, Paolo Marco De Martini, Giuseppe Di Giulio, Deborah Di Naccio, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Johann Facciorusso, Daniela Famiani, Federico Fiorelli, Daniela Fontana, Sebastiano Foti, Claudia Madiai, Valeria Marangoni, Diego Marchetti, Silvano L. Marchetti, Luca Martelli, Mauro Mariotti, Elena Muscolino, Davide Pancaldi, Daniela Pantosti, Federico Passeri, Arianna Pesci, Giovanni Romeo, Vincenzo Sapia, Alessandra Smedile, Marco Stefani, Gabriele Tarabusi, Giordano Teza, Maurizio Vassallo, Fabio Villani


Soil liquefaction can result in significant settlement and reduction of load-bearing capacity. Moreover, the increase and the accumulation of pore pressure during an earthquake and its post-seismic dissipation can generate permanent deformations and settlements. The quantitative evaluation of post-liquefaction settlements is of extreme importance for engineering purposes, i.e. for earthquake-resistant design of new buildings and safety evaluation of existing ones. Quantifying the extent of these phenomena is, however, rather difficult. Uncertainties arise from the stochastic nature of the earthquake loading, from the simplifications of soil models, and from the difficulty in establishing correlations between the pre-earthquake soil state and the post-seismic deformations. Field scale liquefaction tests, under controlled conditions, are therefore important for a correct quantification of these phenomena. Recent experiences (e.g. New Zealand, United States) show that liquefaction can be induced and monitored with field scale blast tests to study the related effects on soil geotechnical properties. Within this framework this paper introduces the preliminary results obtained from a research project on blast-induced liquefaction at the field scale; tests were performed at a trial site located in Mirabello (Ferrara, Italy), a village strongly affected by liquefaction phenomena during the 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake. Invasive tests, such as piezocone, seismic dilatometer and down-hole tests, and non-invasive tests were carried out before and after the execution of two blast test sequences to study the variation in physical properties of the soils. Pore pressure transducers, settlement profilometers, accelerometers and an instrumented micropile were installed with the objective of measuring, during and after the detonations, the generation and subsequent dissipation of the pore pressure, the vertical deformations, and the blast-induced ground motions respectively. Variations in load distribution on deep foundations due to soil liquefaction were also evaluated on a test micropile instrumented with a strain gauge chain. Topographical surveys were carried out to measure ground surface settlements. Laboratory tests and trenches also provided increase understanding of the site characteristics.


liquefaction, blast test, geotechnical and geophysical surveys, Emilia-Romagna earthquake, seismic design

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN:  2037-416X