Large-scale physical modelling of static liquefaction in gentle submarine slopes

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Planning a monitoring campaign for a natural submarine slope prone to static liquefaction is a challenging task due to the sudden nature of flow slides. Therefore, gaining a better insight by monitoring the changes in pore pressure and acceleration of the soil mass, prior to and at the onset of static liquefaction, of submerged model slopes in the laboratory, helps in quantifying the minimum required triggering levels and ultimately the development of effective margins of safety for this specific failure mechanism. This study presents a set of physical model tests of submarine flow slides in the large-scale GeoTank (GT) of Delft University of Technology, in which a tilting mechanism was employed to trigger static liquefaction in loosely packed sand layers. Novel sensors were developed to locally monitor the hydro-mechanical soil responses acting as precursors of the onset of instability. The measurements indicated that soil instability can initiate at overly gentle slope angles (6–10°) and generate significant excess pore water pressures that intensify the deformations to form a flow slide. Moreover, it was observed that the onset of instability and its propagation are highly dependent on the rate of shear stress change and the state of the soil. The obtained data can be used for the future validation of numerical models for submarine flow slides.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Loose sands
  • Onset of instability
  • Physical modelling
  • Static liquefaction
  • Submarine flow slides


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