What The Heck Is Liquefaction?

As you might imagine, we’ve been talking a lot about earthquakes lately, especially the risk of a Cascadia subduction zone quake right here in Oregon.

One word that has come up over and over again is “liquefaction” which, I’m not gonna lie, I had never heard of before.

Assuming that you, like me, 1. are unfamiliar and 2. like to learn new things, this post should serve as a visual tutorial to help you better understand the topic.


A process by which water-saturated sediment temporarily loses strength and acts as a fluid, like when you wiggle your toes in the wet sand near the water at the beach. This effect can be caused by earthquake shaking.

And now, a video of how liquefaction works:
And now, a video of liquefaction in action [scary!]:
And NOW, you can pat yourself on the back for learning something new about earthquakes!

P.S. Why should we worry about liquefaction? It goes without saying that Oregon’s a pretty wet place (What do you call two days of rain in Oregon? A weekend.) and our ground is soggier than most. And anything that goes in that ground, like those houses on stilts we see in the West Hills, has a good likelihood of coming straight down. Yikes.


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