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Flagship Leader: Misko Cubrinovski ( )

Flagship Deputy:  Sjoerd van Ballegooy

Flagship Summary

This flagship will develop new approaches and methodologies for quantification of impacts of soil liquefaction on land and infrastructure through a fundamental understanding of onset and consequences of liquefaction; and use these methods to assess liquefaction impacts throughout New Zealand and their potential to be mitigated.  These novel methods will represent a major advance in the field, and will provide means for a robust assessment and treatment of liquefaction hazards at both site-specific and regional levels. The key thrust areas are:


  1. Development and improvement of liquefaction assessment methods (Liquefaction Evaluation: Beyond Current State-of-Art and Practice). Utilize the exceptional databases compiled during Canterbury and Kaikoura Earthquakes, and obtain additional high-quality data where needed, to develop new or improve existing liquefaction evaluation procedures (field, laboratory and analytical tools and methodologies) that will adequately address current and future society needs for performance of land and infrastructure during earthquakes.
  2. Identify critical issues and ground conditions related to liquefaction impacts on infrastructure, including characterization of important but challenging New Zealand soils, and the development of adequate assessment procedures and cost-effective mitigation strategies.
  3. Development of performance based criteria for micro systems (e.g. soil deposits; soil-foundation-building systems) and macro systems (urban areas; land use and development) and lifeline networks, integrating geotechnical engineering knowhow within cross-disciplinary tools and methodologies.



Thrust Areas

Key tasks/Deliverables



FP2.1  Liquefaction Evaluation: Beyond Current State-of-Art-and-Practice 

1. Develop methodologies for assessment of liquefaction susceptibility and triggering; liquefaction-induced ground deformation



2. Integrate field, laboratory and computational tools to develop next-generation liquefaction methods and procedures



FP2.2 Liquefaction Vulnerability of New Zealand Land and Infrastructure

1. Examine, through field and laboratory investigation, typical New Zealand soils that are challenging for liquefaction assessment (silty soils, pumiceous soils and gravelly soils; soil composition, soil micro-structure, ground conditions, details, overall deposit characteristics)



2. Compile, summarise and interpret historical evidence of liquefaction in New Zealand (paleo-liquefaction studies)



3. Develop liquefaction assessment procedures for challenging soils



4. Enhance observations from Canterbury and Kaikoura Earthquakes with experimental and analytical studies to improve performance assessment of characteristic infrastructure



FP2.3  Liquefaction Assessment and Mitigation: Systems Approach

1. Develop assessment methodologies for micro and macro systems: Soil-foundation-building system (shallow and pile foundations); building-soil-building systems; bridge system



2. Evaluate liquefaction impacts on spatially distributed systems and networks (transportation networks; pipe networks)



3. Develop a framework for performance based criteria incorporating planning, management, operational, owner and user’s perspectives in engineering evaluations of liquefaction impacts




2018 RfP Information

Next Flagship RfP Collaboration Meeting: TBD

Overview of proposed projects for 2018 - presentation

Draft Flagship Programme 2018:


Planned Task

Key People































RfP Projects are being sought in the following areas:


The 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes illustrated the severe impacts and vulnerability of New Zealand communities to liquefaction hazards (approximately 50% of the total $40B damage). Liquefaction hazards are not unique to Christchurch alone, and exist in the majority of our major cities as a result of NZs geology and geomorphologic evolution.  Currently, liquefaction susceptibility, triggering, and consequences are coarsely quantified using empirical methods based on case histories.  As a result, extensive investigations and analysis of the Canterbury earthquakes by QuakeCoRE PIs and their international collaborators have illustrated that such empirical methods lack sufficient precision for quantifying liquefaction impacts for the purposes of seismic mitigation and risk assessment.  A key requirement in the immediate future is an improved precision in the estimation of susceptibility, triggering, and impacts of liquefaction of various soils through the use of multi-disciplinary experimental and simulation research programmes with an emphasis on fundamental physics in place of empiricism from observations.

QuakeCoRE and industry researchers have collected unprecedented geotechnical datasets from the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes, which are archived on open-source community databases.  Such datasets include over 18,000 cone penetrometer tests of soil strength and stiffness, high-quality “undisturbed” soil samples, ground water table depths, horizontal and vertical ground deformations from satellite imagery and airborne LiDAR, surface fissuring and lateral spreading, and foundation and underground lifeline failures due to ground deformations.  The quality and quantity of these individual datasets, as well as the multitude of data from multi-disciplinary methods are unique in a world-wide context, and have provided a critical momentum that is leading to increasing investment from leading international researchers to collaborate with QuakeCoRE PIs.  This Flagship will leverage on-going experimental data collection and analysis from multi-disciplinary researchers related to the Canterbury earthquakes to provide a paradigm shift in the models used to predict the susceptibility, triggering, and impacts of liquefaction with world-wide impacts.  Particular attention will be devoted to understanding and modelling the liquefaction susceptibility and triggering of non-plastic fines-containing soils; the punching failure of shallow foundations in near-surface liquefaction; lateral spreading impacts on bridge abutments and pile foundations; and pipe network vulnerability.  Parallel work streams will use lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquakes to better understand the impacts of soil liquefaction, and possible mitigation measures, on other urban and rural regions around NZ, in particular, the liquefaction-resistance of pumiceous- and residual-soils in Auckland and Northland, and the liquefaction of susceptibility of Wellington CBD soils.

Industry partners and Stakeholders

QuakeCoRE members are currently highly engaged in collaborative research with the geotechnical industry (e.g. Tonkin and Taylor) and stakeholders (EQC and Christchurch City Council) in the analysis of observations and data from the Canterbury earthquakes and implications for the region at large.  In addition, specific relationships also exist with major utility and asset owners, for example Lyttelton Port Company, who are undertaking >$1B of earthquake damage repairs, mostly due to geotechnical failures.  Through the on-going EQC-funded research on liquefaction impacts and mitigation measures, strong international links have been formed through the Flagship Leader’s membership on the expert international advisory panel overseeing EQC’s multi-million dollar land damage research work stream.  Through the above partners, and also additional relevant local authorities (Wellington and Auckland councils), QuakeCoRE will advance the understanding of liquefaction hazards in our other major cities.


Our goal is to develop novel methods to improve the quantification of impacts of soil liquefaction on infrastructure through a fundamental understanding of liquefaction susceptibility, triggering, and consequences; and use these methods to assess liquefaction impacts throughout NZ and their potential to be mitigated.  These novel methods will represent a major advance in the field, and will be based on the unprecedented data and internationally recognised on-going research related to soil liquefaction and related infrastructure damage in the Canterbury earthquakes.


Current Projects


2016 Projects

Monthly Meetings

2017 Meetings


2016 Meetings


In the media

Overview of trenching work in Napier associated with Historical liquefaction case study project (17141) - article and YouTube


  • Annual meeting - FP2 workshop



Other Presentations



Requests for Proposals

  • 2017 QuakeCoRE Collaboration Plan - This will be released mid/late-Sept following the 2016 QuakeCoRE Annual Meeting
  • 2016 QuakeCoRE Collaboration Plan - See page 9-10 for GMSV priorities. Proposals are due November 20, 2015.


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