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Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

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Computers and Geotechnics


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/compgeo

Comparison of SPT-N-based analysis methods in evaluation of liquefaction


potential during the 1999 Chi-chi earthquake in Taiwan
Muhsiung Chang a,, Chih-ping Kuo b, Shih-hui Shau c, Ron-eeh Hsu d
a

National Yunlin University of Science & Technology, Taiwan, ROC


National Taiwan University of Science & Technology, Taiwan, ROC
c
Da-Ho Construction Group, Taiwan, ROC
d
National Pei-Men Senior A & I Vocational School, Taiwan, ROC
b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 27 August 2010
Received in revised form 15 January 2011
Accepted 15 January 2011
Available online 4 February 2011
Keywords:
Liquefaction assessment
SPT-N-based method
Sensitivity study
Method comparison
Chi-chi earthquake

a b s t r a c t
SPT-N-based methods have been adopted for liquefaction assessment of soils during earthquakes for decades. However, there has not been a consistent way of assessing the accuracy and applicability of these
methods. The Chi-chi earthquake of 1999, which has been the most serious ground shaking in Taiwan
within the century, caused extensive liquefactions in mid-west alluvial deposits of the island. This paper
assesses the prediction accuracy of several SPT-N-based methods using liquefaction and non-liquefaction
incidents observed during the earthquake. A sensitivity study on commonly adopted parameters shows
that the SPT blow count and peak ground acceleration are most sensitive in computing liquefaction
potential. By comparing the error in predicting liquefaction and non-liquefaction incidents, this study
concludes that Tokimatsu and Yoshimis method is more accurate than the other methods. However,
the differences between prediction errors of various methods are minimal, indicating all of the methods
examined are applicable for the 1999 earthquake in Taiwan.
2011 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

1. General
Evaluation of liquefaction potential of a saturated sandy deposit
during an earthquake requires knowledge of the intensity and
duration of cyclic shear stresses of shaking as well as the cyclic
shear resistance of deposit materials. Generally, cyclic shear stresses could be assessed through a simplied manner [14], or based
upon results of a site response analysis [5]. The cyclic shear resistance of soils could be evaluated in the laboratory, such as through
cyclic triaxial or cyclic simple shear testing, or based upon empirical relationships between liquefaction case histories and on-site
material parameters (e.g., SPT-N, CPT-qc, or Vs values) through various eld testing programs.
The majority of liquefaction assessment methods available to
date are simplied-empirical; namely, the cyclic shear stress due
to shaking is estimated by a simplied procedure, and the cyclic
resistance of soils is based on an empirical approach. A review of
these methods can be found in a summary report by National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) of the United
States [6] and the paper by Liam Finn [7]. The vast worldwide database, allows the SPT-N-based approach to become a dominant
methodology in the simplied-empirical category. Although this
approach has been applied for many years, the ways of assessing
Corresponding author. Tel.: +886 5 534 2601; fax: +886 5 531 2049.
E-mail address: changmh@yuntech.edu.tw (M. Chang).
0266-352X/$ - see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compgeo.2011.01.003

the accuracy and applicability of the related methods have not


reached a consensus.
Lee et al. [8] carried out a study on 21 simplied-empirical
methods, using 100 liquefaction incidents due to earthquakes from
around the world with a magnitude greater than 6.1. They found
that the method by Seed et al. [4] is the most accurate in predicting
liquefaction, followed by Tokimatsu and Yoshimi (TY) method [9]
as the second. The new version of Japan Road Association (JRA)
method [10] ranks tenth, and the original JRA method [11] appears
to be the least accurate in prediction.
Hwang and Chen [12] indicates that the original JRA method
[11], which has been adopted in the seismic design codes for buildings in Taiwan [13], overestimates liquefaction resistance of sandy
soils with SPT-N values that are greater than 20. By examining results of laboratory and eld testing as well as liquefaction case histories, the authors recommend the TY method [9] to be adopted
for the current codes in Taiwan [14] for optimal results.
Based on a study on liquefaction damages at Yuanlin Town during the 1999 Chi-chi Earthquake, Su and Wang [15] indicates
Seeds method, as modied and suggested by the NCEER/NSF
Workshops [6], would provide most consistent predictions in comparison to observations from the earthquake.
Hwang and Yang [16] conducted a systematic evaluation on
SPT-N-based methods using 302 liquefaction and non-liquefaction
cases from the 1999 Chi-chi Earthquake. The success rate and the
at-least safety factor error (Fm) are adopted as indices for this

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

evaluation. According to the results, Seeds method [14] yields the


highest success rate and the lowest Fm (i.e., most accurate), while
the TY method [9] and the new version of JRA method [10] are
the next accurate. On the other hand, the original JRA method
[11] is the least accurate in prediction. The evaluation above is
based on a critical depth with a minimum corrected blow count
(N1,60). The correlation between the one-point estimation and
the observed surface manifestations of liquefaction could thus be
doubtful.
The Chi-chi earthquake of 1999, with a magnitude (Mw) of 7.6,
has been the most serious earthquake within the century which
caused extensive liquefaction damages in the mid-west alluvial
deposits of Taiwan [30]. With more than 1500 borehole logs collected from the deposits in this study, the liquefaction and non-liquefaction incidents of the earthquake provide an excellent
opportunity to examine the accuracy and applicability of various
SPT-N-based approaches for use in Taiwan.
The paper therefore aims to address this issue, by rst conducting a sensitivity study on the factors commonly adopted in N-based
methods, then evaluating the prediction accuracy of the methods
by using liquefaction and non-liquefaction incidents of the
earthquake.
However, the analysis methods for liquefaction assessment discussed are primarily for design purposes, which involve various
degrees of idealization and simplication. Accordingly, analysis results of the methods might vary from observations in the eld,
which generally reects the simplications adopted in each of
the methods. In order to provide a basis for selection of design
methods, this study compared the relative accuracy or degree of
conservatism of the methods in predicting the observations of
the 1999 earthquake.
2. SPT-N-based liquefaction analysis approaches
Analysis methods considered in this study include: (1) Seeds
method modied and suggested by NCEER/NSF Workshop [6];
(2) Tokimatsu and Yoshimis (TY) method [9]; (3) a new version
of Japan Road Association (JRA) method [10]; and (4) the Chinese
Code for Seismic Design of Buildings (CSDB) method [17]. Each
method is briey reviewed as follows.
Two analysis procedures have been recently proposed by Idriss
and Boulanger [36] and Cetin et al. [37] to revise the original Seeds
method [1,4,6]. However, these two procedures appear to disagree
in regards to the rd (stress reduction factor, or model mass participation factor) and Kr (correction factor for effective overburden
pressure) relationships, which are adopted in the evaluation of
in situ CSR for the triggering correlations from back analysis of eld
performance case histories [38]. Since more verication would be
needed for the new procedures, to settle the conict in the proposed rd and Kr relationships, this paper would only evaluate the
prediction accuracy of the commonly-adopted analysis procedures
in the industry today.
2.1. Seeds method
This method was rst proposed by Seed and Idriss in 1971, then
modied by the authors and other colleagues in subsequent years
[14]. In 1996 and 1998, this method was further synthesized and
updated in the workshops held by NCEER and NSF [6]. The updated
version is used in the current study. An analysis owchart of this
method is shown in Fig. 1, indicating two separate procedures to
estimate the cyclic stress ratio (CSR) due to shaking and the cyclic
resistance ratio (CRR) of soils. The effects of earthquake magnitude
 
(Mw), nes content (FC), and effective overburden pressure r0v are
incorporated in the CRR estimation. The stress reduction factor (rd)

for the CSR estimation uses the original average relationship suggested by Seed and Idriss [1] and endorsed by NCEER/NSF workshops [6]. The earthquake magnitude scaling factor (MSF), as
shown in the gure, adopts the revised version by Idriss during
the 1995 Seeds Memorial Lecture, as suggested by NCEER/NSF
workshops as a lower bound for MSF values [6].
2.2. Tokimatsu and Yoshimi (TY) method
Tokimatsu and Yoshimi [9] proposed a similar approach to
Seeds method, by estimating CSR and CRR separately prior to the
computation of the factor of safety against liquefaction (FL). However, the TY method is different from Seeds method in developing
the CRR relationships. The CRR boundary curves of soils are established based on the results of laboratory testing on high quality
undisturbed (frozen) samples from Niigata, Japan, where severe
liquefactions had occurred in 1964 [18]. The cyclic strength of soils
in laboratory is determined based on a given cyclic strain at 15
stress cycles, and the cyclic strain is correlated to the level of severity in liquefaction damages observed during 70 case histories in Japan and 20 cases in other parts of the world. The assessment
owchart of TY method is presented in Fig. 2, showing the earthquake magnitude (M) is accounted for in the CSR estimation. As
mentioned, the CRR curves take into account the level of severity
of liquefaction damages, which is reected by the coefcient, Cs.
According to the authors, a Cs-range of 8090 (i.e., a cyclic shear
strain c = 5.51.5%) is normally adopted. For extensive liquefaction,
however, a Cs value of 75 (i.e., a cyclic shear strain c ; 10%) is
suggested.
2.3. New JRA (NJRA) method
The original JRA method was promulgated in 1990 [11] by synthesizing studies of several parties [1921]. The CRR curves of this
method are based on the results of laboratory evaluation of in situ
samples, where the cyclic resistance is determined with a number
of liquefaction stress cycle (Nl) of 20. After the Hyogoken-Nambu
Earthquake of Japan in 1995, this method has been considerably
revised [10]. In view of the ndings from the earthquake, a set of
screening criteria has been added prior to the assessment procedure. The cyclic resistance of gravelly soils, as evidenced in the
earthquake, is also considered based on limited laboratory results
of frozen samples. Although the earthquake magnitude is not included in the CSR formulation, two types of earthquake are accounted for in assessing the cyclic resistance of soils. Type I
quakes occurs along the subduction zone boundaries, and Type II
quakes occurs under the intraplate of continents. Fig. 3 indicates
the analysis owchart of the revised method. It is noted that the
maximum values of the CSR and CRR are computed in the process,
unlike the majority of SPT-N-based approaches, where only average values are employed.
2.4. Chinese building code (CSDB) method
The Chinese liquefaction assessment procedure was established
in the Code for Seismic Design of Buildings (CSDB) of China in 1974
(Doc. No. TJ11-74). This procedure adopts a critical SPT N-value,
Ncr, which is a function of seismic intensity, groundwater depth,
and the depth of interest, indicating that a lower limit is required
for the soil to prevent liquefaction. After the Haichen (1975) and
Tongshan (1976) earthquakes, this assessment procedure has been
modied by considering the attenuation effect of ground shaking,
as shown in the building code of 1989 (Doc. No. GBJ11-89). In
2001, the building code (Doc. No. GB50011-2001 [17]) was slightly
updated by adjusting the assessment procedure and adopting design earthquake groups to account for both the characteristic

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Horizontal peak
ground acceleration,
amax

SPT N-value,
N

EQ magnitude,
Mw

Effective overburden
pressure, v( kPa)

ER
N 60 = N

60

CN =

Fines content,
FC (%)

100
v '

( FC 5)

5.0

(35 FC )

= exp[1.76 (190 / FC 2 )] (5 < FC < 35)


N1,60 = C N N 60

1.0

1.2

( FC 5)
(5 < FC < 35)

= 0.99 + ( FC 1.5 / 1000)

Stress reduction factor, rd


rd = 1 0.00765z
z 9.15m
rd = 1.174 0.0267 z 9.15 < z 23m
rd = 0.744 0.008z 23 < z 30m

(35 FC )

N1, 60, FC = + N1,60


Cyclic resistance ratio, CRR7.5

CRR7.5 =
MSF =

10 2.24
M w2.56

a + cx + ex 2 + gx 3
1 + bx + dx 2 + fx 3 + hx 4

x=N1,60,FC, a=0.048, b=-0.1248, c=-4.721E-3,


d=9.578E-3, e=6.136E-4, f=-3.285E-4,
g=-1.673E-5, h=3.714E-6

Equiv. average cyclic stress ratio

CSR = 0.65

amax v
rd
g v '

Cyclic resistance ratio

CRR = MSF CRR7.5

Factor of safety against liquefaction

FL =

CRR
/

=
CSR o ' R o ' L

Fig. 1. Analysis ow chart of 2001 Seeds method.

Horizontal peak
ground acceleration,
amax

EQ magnitude,
M

SPT N-value,
N

N1, 72 =

Effective overburden
pressure, o( kg/cm2)

1.7 N ER

o '+0.7 72

Stress reduction factor

Fines content,
FC (%)

( FC < 5)
(5 FC < 10)
(10 FC )

N f = FC 5
0.1FC + 4

rd = 1 0.015z

N a = N1,72 + N f
Cyclic resistance ratio, CRR
Equiv. average cyclic stress ratio, CSR

= 0.1( M 1) max v rd

'
g v '
o L

16 N
16 N a

a

= aCr
+
Cs

'
100

o R

a=0.45, Cr=0.57, n=14, Cs=80~90,


Cs=75 for extensive liquefaction situation

Factor of safety against liquefaction

FL =

CRR
/

=
CSR o ' R o ' L

Fig. 2. Analysis ow chart of 1983 TY method.

period and the ground motion acceleration in determining Ncr.


Fig. 4 shows the analysis owchart of the updated version. The Chinese building code method is signicantly different from the afore-

mentioned methods in its analysis philosophy. The seismic


intensity and the earthquake group are exclusively dened and applied for use in China only.

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Screening criteria for further assessment


(1) Groundwater depth 10m, with saturated sand located 20m below ground surface;
(2) Fines contents (FC) 35%, or FC>35% and PI 15%; and
(3) Effective grain size D 50 10mm and D10 1mm.

Design horizontal
EQ coefficient, khc

Effective overburden
pressure, o ( kg/cm2)

SPT N-value,
N

N1,72 =

c2 =
(

10) / 18
FC

N a = c1 N1, 72 + c2

(0 FC < 10)
(10 FC )

Gravel:

N a = N1,72 []
1 0.36 log10 ( D50 / 2)

Na
0.0882

1 .7
RL =
0.0882 N a + 1.6 10 6 ( N 14) 4.5
a
1 .7

Stress reduction factor

rd = 1 0.015z

( N a < 14)
(14 N a )

EQ Type I: c w = 1.0
( RL < 0.1)
1.0

EQ Type II: cw = 3.3RL + 0.67 (0.1 RL < 0.4)

(0.4 RL )
2.0

Cyclic resistance ratio

Equiv. max. cyclic stress ratio

CSR = L = rd kh

Mean grain size,


D50 (mm)

(0 FC < 10)
1

c1 = ( FC + 40) / 50 (10 FC < 60)


( FC / 20) 1
(60 FC )

1.7 N ER

o '+0.7 72

Sand:
khc replaced by
amax
g

Fines content,
FC (%)

v
v '

CRR = R = cw RL

Factor of safety against liquefaction

FL =

CRR R
=
CSR L

Fig. 3. Analysis ow chart of 1996 JRA method.

3. Liquefaction potential assessment by Iwasakis depthweighted technique


Liquefaction analysis calculates factors of safety against liquefaction at separate depths of a borehole. To address the severity
of liquefaction for the entire borehole in the ground, the computed
factors of safety and the associated depth intervals need to be considered. Several techniques on assessing liquefaction potential for
the entire borehole depth have been proposed [10,17,20,21]. The
following parametric study utilizes Iwasakis depth-weighted average technique [21], and the associated liquefaction potential index
(PL) is computed for the sensitivity study among various factors.

4. Parametric study of liquefaction analysis methods


4.1. Analysis conditions
The sensitivities of computation of the PL ratio due to various
analysis parameters are determined for the liquefaction assessment methods considered. As shown in Table 1, a set of common
parameters adopted in the SPT-N-based assessment methods are

examined, which includes: depth to groundwater level (GWT),


maximum ground acceleration (amax), SPT blow count (N), nes
content (FC), stress reduction coefcient (rd), earthquake magnitude (M), overburden pressure correction factor (CN), and hammer
energy ratio (ER).
As a basis for comparison, the following values of parameters
are assumed: GWT = 1.5 m, amax = 0.25 g, FC = 15%, M = 7.5,
ER = 73.5%, as well as a unit weight cm = csat = 21.1 kN/m3 and an
effective grain size D50 = 1.5 mm. Three types of SPT N-prole of
soil deposit are postulated, namely: constant distribution, linearly-increasing distribution, and linearly-decreasing distributions
with depth, all with an average blow count of 10. In addition, Type
I earthquake is assumed in the NJRA method. As for the CSDB
method, the following values are adopted: clay fraction CF = 10%,
seismic intensity I = 8, and earthquake groups 13.
Since SPT blow count would be affected by the overburden
pressure at the depth of testing, the SPT blow count is adjusted
to a common (effective) vertical stress by a correction factor CN.
Several CNr0o relationships have been proposed, as shown in
Fig. 5, which could be broadly represented by C N 1  k log r0o ,
with k value ranging from 0.7 to 1.4. A higher k value indicates a
greater gradient in the CNr0o relationship; implying more of an

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Screening criteria for further assessment for sands or silts (except loess)
(1) Geologic age younger than Pleistocene Epoch;
(2) Clay fraction (CF) less than 10, 13, and 16 (%), for seismic intensity (I) less than
7, 8, and 9, respectively;
(3) For overlaying non-liquefaction soil thickness (du) and groundwater depth (dw),
satisfying: du (d0+db-2m), dw (d0+db-3m), or (du+dw) (1.5d0+2db-4.5m),
where db=building embedment, d0=liquefaction characteristic depth.

Design earthquake
group

Groundwater
depth (dw)

Seismic intensity
(I, amax)

Soil depth
(ds)

Clay fraction
(CF, %)

SPT Nvalue (N)

SPT Nbasic value (N0)

SPT N-critical value (Ncr)


Ncr = N0 [0.9 + 0.1(ds-dw)] (3/CF)0.5, for ds 15m
Ncr = N0 [2.4 - 0.1ds] (3/CF)0.5, for 15m ds 20m

Factor of safety against liquefaction

FL =

CRR
N
=
CSR N cr

Fig. 4. Analysis ow chart of 2001 CSDB method.

CN = 1 log 'o

Analysis
parameter

Analysis methods
Seeda

TYb

NJRAc

CSDBd

GWT
amax
SPT-N
FC
rd

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
For z 5 9.15 m,
rd 1  0:00765z
For
9.15 m < z 5 23 m,
r d 1:174  0:0267z

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
r d 1  0:015z

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
r d 1  0:015z

Yes
Yese
Yes
n/af
n/a

102:24
M 2:56

Yes

M
CN
ER (%)
Cs

q
Pa

r00

60
n/a

1:7

0 0:7
0

72
8090 Use 75
for extensive
liquefaction

n/ag
r

1:7

0 0:7
0

72
n/a

n/ag
n/a

60
n/a

Note: n/a = not applicable.


a
NCEER modied Seeds method (Youd et al., 2001).
b
Tokimatsu and Yoshimis method (1983).
c
The new version of Japan Roadway Associations method (JRA, 1996).
d
Code for Seismic Design of Buildings, China (CD/PROC 2001).
e
Based on the relationship between the seismic intensity (I) and the peak ground
acceleration (amax).
f
Considered by the content of clay particles (<5 lm).
g
Considered by the type of earthquakes.
h
Considered the soil thickness (ds) and groundwater depth (dw) in computation
of the critical SPT-N value, Ncr.

amplication of the SPT N-value at a shallower depth and more of a


reduction at a greater depth. The above expression for CN is an assumed simplied format intended for the parametric study of sensitivity of CN on the computed liquefaction. In the later part of this
paper, the respective expression of CN for each of the analysis
methods is adopted for the liquefaction assessment of the study
area during the 1999 earthquake.

Effective Overburden Pressure (kg/cm2)

Table 1
Parameters adopted in the liquefaction analysis methods.

0.0
0.0

0.4

0.8

1.2

1.6

1.0

2.0
Peck et.al. (1974)

3.0

Seed (1976)
Tokimatsu et.al. (1983)
Liao & Whitman (1986)

4.0

Seed et.al. (1979)

Dr = 40~60%

Seed et.al. (1979)

Dr = 60~80%

Lambda = 1.4
Lambda = 0.7

5.0
Fig. 5. Distribution of overburden pressure correction factor.

Stress reduction factor (or model mass participation factor), rd,


is adopted to consider the soil prole as a deformable body in estimating CSR. The relationship of the stress reduction factor and the
depth has been developed by several parties, but the results are
scattered signicantly [1,21,22,3638]. This study assumes a
general expression of the stress reduction factor as rd = 1  mz.
The slope m is assumed to vary from 0.005 to 0.030, as shown in
Fig. 6, covering approximately the ranges Seed and Idriss [1] and
other researchers [1,21,22,3638] had proposed. A higher m-value
indicates a greater gradient in the stress reduction curve; implying
a greater reduction in CSR with depth. Similarly, the above
expression for rd is an assumed simplied form for the purposes
of parametric study of the sensitivity of rd on the computed liquefaction. In the later part of this paper, however, the specic expression of rd for each of the liquefaction analysis methods is used for
the liquefaction assessment of the study area during the 1999
earthquake.

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

d = 1 m z (0.3048meter / ft )
0.0
0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0
Seed & Idiss (lower limit)

Depth, z (ft)

10
20

Seed & Idiss (upper limit)

30

m = 0.005

40

m = 0.010

50
Iwasaki et al. (m = 0.015)

60
70

m = 0.020

80

m = 0.025

90

m = 0.030

100
Fig. 6. Distribution of stress reduction factor.

4.2. Findings of parametric study


Results of the sensitivity study are summarized in Table 2. For
all the parameters examined, SPT blow count (N) and peak ground
acceleration (amax) appear to be most sensitive in the computed
liquefaction potential. Hammer energy ratio (ER), earthquake magnitude (M), nes content (FC), and groundwater depth (GWT) are
also fairly sensitive. Stress reduction factor (rd) and overburden
pressure correction factor (CN) are the least sensitive of the parameters studied.
The Chinese building code (CSDB) method shows signicant
sensitivity in the computed liquefaction potential due to SPT blow
count (N) and hammer energy ratio (ER). In comparison, other
analysis methods in this study are not as sensitive; implying the
prediction accuracy of the CSDB method relies greatly upon these
two parameters.
With exception to the CSDB method, Seeds method appears
most sensitive in the computed liquefaction potential due to SPT
blow count (N), hammer energy ratio (ER), and earthquake magnitude (M); while NJRA method is least sensitive.
It is important to note the effect of the groundwater level on the
computed liquefaction potential. An increase in the groundwater
level would decrease the effective stress of soil, which would, in
turn, enhance the computed seismic force (i.e., CSR) at the depth
of interest. On the other hand, as a result of the increase in groundwater level, a decrease in the effective stress of soil would amplify
the overburden pressure correction factor (CN) in order to accommodate the underestimated SPT N-value due to rising groundwa-

ter, and causing the cyclic resistance of soil (CRR) to remain the
same. As pointed out by Youd et al. [6], the effective stress adopted
for CN should be the overburden pressure at the time of drilling and
testing, implying that the corrected N-value (N1) and the cyclic
resistance (CRR) of soil should be determined at the time of testing
and remains constant afterwards, even if the groundwater level
might be uctuating over time.
An example of the misinterpretation of the CRR and the associated factor of safety against liquefaction (FL) is indicated by Lin
et al. [23] and shown in Fig. 7a. In the example, an increase in
groundwater level causes amplication of CN factor and increases
N1 and CRR of soil, resulting in an adverse increase of FL at shallower depths. If N1 is decided at the time of testing and remains
constant afterwards (i.e., N1 irrelevant to groundwater uctuation),
then the increase in groundwater level would only enhance CSR,
and therefore decrease the FL, as shown in Fig. 7b.
5. The 1999 Chi-chi earthquake
Liquefaction and non-liquefaction incidents of the 1999 earthquake are used to compare the prediction accuracy by various
SPT-N-based methods. Since the CSDB method adopts a signicantly different analysis philosophy, this method is excluded from
the comparison. Accordingly, only Seeds method [6], the TY
method [9], and the NJRA method [10] are considered in the following study.
5.1. The earthquake and liquefaction damages

Table 2
Results of relative sensitivity study.
Parameter

SPT-N
ER
k, for CN
FC
GWT
amax
m, for rd
M
Cs

Parameter value

Variations in computed liquefaction


potential index ratio, DPL/PL for
different liquefaction assessment
methods

Range

Reference

Seed
(%)

TY
(%)

NJRA
(%)

CSDB
(%)

315
50100%
0.71.4
040%
0.55 m
0.150.35 g
0.0050.030
6.08.0
7595

10
73.5%
1.0
15%
1.5 m
0.25 g
0.015
7.5
85

153
76
5
55
50
98
28
72

91
50
3
56
57
102
24
45
53

87
40
1
32
46
86
17

192325
91129

3339
4049

On September 21, 1999, a severe earthquake, with a magnitude


(Mw) of 7.6, hit central Taiwan, resulting in more than 2300 people
killed, 8700 people wounded, and numerous structures damaged
[24]. The epicenter of the quake is in Chi-chi Town, Nantou County,
at a depth of about 7 km along the Chelungpu Fault, as shown in
Fig. 8. The quake is triggered by a rupture of the thrust fault (from
east to west) with a length of about 85 km. Based on the denition
by Bolt [32], the duration of the main shock is approximately 40 s,
which is considered long enough to contribute to the extensive liquefaction incidents during the earthquake. Fig. 9 [33] indicates an
example of the acceleration-time histories recorded at Yuanlin
Town, which had the most wide-spread liquefaction area during
the earthquake. Due to the nature and location of the faulting,
the eastwest component of the shaking is the greatest in all
directions.

399

M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

FL

FL
0.5

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

0.5
0
1

(a) N 1 Relevant to GWT Fluctuation

2
3
4
5

2
3
4
5

6
7
8
9

6
7
8
9

GWT=0,N=15

10
11
12
13

GWT=1,N=15
GWT=2,N=15
GWT=3,N=15
GWT=4,N=15
GWT=5,N=15

14
15
16
17

GWT=0,N=20
GWT=1,N=20
GWT=2,N=20
GWT=3,N=20

18
19
20

GWT=4,N=20
GWT=5,N=20

Depth (m)

Depth (m)

0
1

1.0

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

(b) N 1 Irrelevant to GWT Fluctuation

10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

GWT=0,N=15
GWT=1,N=15
GWT=2,N=15
GWT=3,N=15
GWT=4,N=15
GWT=5,N=15
GWT=0,N=20
GWT=1,N=20
GWT=2,N=20
GWT=3,N=20
GWT=4,N=20
GWT=5,N=20

Fig. 7. Potential aws in FL computation due to erroneous N1 estimation.

Study
Area
Miaoli

Taichung

Chuoswei
River
(downstream)
Changhua
Yunlin

Nantou
Epicenter
Chelungpu
Fault

5.2. Borehole data and analysis conditions

Chiai

50

of Changhua County, which is located at the northern part of the


Chuoswei River alluvial fan. The study area encompasses the entire
alluvial fan, where most of the shallower sediments consist of saturated loose sands or silts (SM or ML) interbedded with clayey layers of low plasticity (CL) [29,39].
Thirty-four strong motion stations have been installed in the
study area by the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan prior to the
earthquake [24,30], with their locations shown in Fig. 10. The recorded peak ground accelerations (PGAs; EW direction) of the
earthquake are adopted in the current study. Due to a fairly even
distribution of the stations across the study area, the PGAs at each
of the borehole locations are considered appropriate and determined by interpolation based on the 34 recorded data for liquefaction analysis of the 1999 earthquake. Fig. 10 shows the PGA
contours adopted in this study.

100Km

Liquefaction Site

Fig. 8. Locations of liquefaction sites and the causative fault.

Most liquefaction analysis methods employ the earthquake


magnitude as an index to account for the number of stress cycles,
or the duration of shaking. To verify the representative stress cycles
of the 1999 earthquake, a weighting procedure proposed by Seed
et al. [34] and described by Lee and Chan [35] was conducted. The
results indicate the equivalent number of stress cycles was approximately 21 for the magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Compared with the
relationship proposed by Seed [2], the estimated number of stress
cycles falls within the range of one-standard deviation (i.e., 825),
with an average of 16 cycles. Accordingly, the assumption of the
number of stress cycles adopted in most of liquefaction analysis
methods is generally valid for the case of the 1999 earthquake.
Locations of the liquefaction sites are indicated in Fig. 8, with
the most serious damage at Yuanlin Town and nearby townships

A total of 1571 borehole logs have been collected for this study.
Some of the logs are neglected due to the lack of essential information or reliability of results. The remaining 1084 borehole logs,
with locations shown in Fig. 11, are deemed effective and adopted
in the analyses. According to different screening criteria, the actual
borehole numbers adopted in the assessment methods are slightly
varied, as shown in Table 3.
The adopted boreholes are assigned as either liquefaction or
non-liquefaction boreholes prior to the subsequent analyses. As
in usual practices, boreholes with observed surface manifestations
of liquefaction (e.g., sand boils, lateral spreads, and tilted, settled or
oated structures, etc.) in the vicinity of the boreholes during the
1999 earthquake are assigned as liquefaction boreholes, while
those without surface manifestations are assigned as non-liquefaction boreholes. It is noted that liquefaction often occurs at depth
which may or may not extend up to the ground surface due to several reasons. In accordance, the observed surface manifestations
are indicative of soil liquefaction, while no surface manifestations
are implying either non-liquefaction or liquefaction sites. For instance, Youd and Carter [40] indicate no liquefaction phenomenon
was observed in the vicinity of the instrument sites at Treasure Is-

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

2680000
N
W

2670000
S

2660000

2650000

2640000

2630000

2620000

2610000

: PGA contours (gal)


: Strong motion stations
2600000
160000 170000 180000 190000 200000 210000 220000
0

10000

20000

30000

40000 (m)

Fig. 10. Recorded peak ground acceleration (PGA; amax,EW) contours and 34 strong
motion stations in the study area during the 1999 earthquake.
Fig. 9. Acceleration-time histories recorded at Yuanlin Station (TCU120), Changhua
County during the 1999 earthquake [33].
N

2670000

land and Alameda Navy Air Station, California, during the 1989
Loma Prieta Earthquake. However, a sudden shift of frequency contents to longer periods and a decrease in acceleration amplitudes
after some time period in the actual motions, as compared with
those in the predicted motions (without soil softening), clearly
indicate that soil liquefactions had occurred at the sites. Since no
detailed ground response analysis has been conducted for borehole
category classication purposes in this study, some falsely-assigned non-liquefaction boreholes may exist. The potential impact
of the falsely-assigned borehole categories is further discussed in
Section 6.4.3 of this paper.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 is adopted in the analyses by Seeds and TYs methods. For the NJRA method, however,
a Type I Earthquake is assumed in order to be comparable to the
1999 earthquake condition. In consideration of the level of liquefaction damages, this study adopts Cs = 83 for the TY method,
which is consistent with an earthquake magnitude of 7.6, per suggestions by Wu [25]. Based on limited on-site data [23,26,39], an
energy ratio of 73.5% is assumed for the current study, which is
consistent with the value adopted by NCREE/Taiwan for the SPT
hammers used in the island. In analysis, the unit weight of soil at
each of the material strata is based on the borehole data obtained
at the time of drilling.
Due to lack of real time monitoring data, this study assumes the
groundwater levels recorded in the borehole logs to form an average groundwater datum for the area. To account for seasonal uctuations [27] and the timing of the earthquake, an additional 3 m is
assumed on top of the average datum as the groundwater level
during the 1999 earthquake. The datum and its additional 3 m
assumption is limited by the condition that the groundwater level
should be at least 1 m below the ground surface.

E
S

2660000

2650000

2640000

2630000

2620000

2610000
0

10

20

Kilometers

2600000
160000 170000 180000

190000 200000 210000

220000

Fig. 11. Locations of analysis boreholes in the study area.

6. Comparison of accuracy in predicting liquefaction and nonliquefaction of soils


The accuracy of liquefaction analysis could be evaluated in different ways. The factor of safety against liquefaction (FL) could be
computed at any given (or critical) depth and compared with the
surface manifestations observed during an earthquake [16,28].
However, the use of a single depth to compute the safety factor

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

is corrected based on the relation: CRRM = MSF  CRR7.5, where MSF


is a magnitude scaling factor suggested by Idriss [6]. For CSR predictions, however, the values are adjusted corresponding to a
pre-assumed earthquake magnitude of 7.5. In the NJRA method,
both CRR and CSR refer to peak values, and a coefcient of 0.65,
which conforms to the coefcient used in the Seeds method, is further applied to the CRR and CSR in the above procedures.

Table 3
Number of boreholes for analysis.
Case

Numbers of boreholes
Collected

Liquefaction
Non-liquefaction
Sum

69
1015
1084

Analyzed
Seeds
method

TYs
method

NJRAs
method

66
920
986

67
927
994

67
930
997

6.2. Comparisons of CRR predictions


Under the same basis of comparison, results of the CRR predictions by the three methods for the soils in the study area during the
1999 earthquake (M = 7.6) are shown in Fig. 12. The CRR curves are
plotted for a normalized blow count, N1,60, with different nes contents (FC). As shown in the gure, predictions in CRR by the three
methods vary in different ranges of N1,60 and FC. To facilitate comparison, Table 4 is prepared with corresponding orders in CRR
shown in each of the ranges of N1,60 and FC.
As indicated in the table, Seeds method normally provides the
highest CRR predictions at higher blow counts (e.g., N1,60 > 10) and
gives the lowest CRR values at lower blow counts (e.g., N1,60 < 10),
as shown by the bold letter S in the table. The TY method appears to compute the highest CRR for FC = 15% and N1,60 < 10,
and the lowest CRR for FC ; 35% and N1,60 = 10, as shown by the
bold letter T in the table. Except for a blow count of less than
or equal to 2, the NJRA method would result in the greatest CRR
prediction for FC < 5% and N1,60 < 15, and the smallest CRR prediction for FC ; 15% and N1,60 > 10, as shown by the bold letter N
in the table. A higher CRR would tend to provide a higher FL, hence
a lower PL estimation, and vice versa.

would normally be very difcult to relate to surface observations.


An improved method would be to use a section or an entire depth
interval to compute a depth-weighted average safety factor, or liquefaction potential index (PL), as suggested by Iwasaki et al. [21].
However, the accuracy in liquefaction prediction would be affected
by the depth-weighting function assumed.
Another method of comparison is to examine the details of
computation for CRR and CSR, which would provide a picture on
situations where the values are relatively overestimated or underestimated among the various SPT-N-based methods.

6.1. Basis of comparison


Although SPT-N-based methods generally include computations
of CRR and CSR, the analysis philosophy and computation details of
the methods are slightly different. As stated previously, Seeds
method considers the effect of the earthquake magnitude as an inverse modication in the cyclic strength of soil (Fig. 1). Conversely,
the TY method accounts for the earthquake magnitude directly in
the cyclic stress formulation (Fig. 2).
To form a basis of comparison, this study adopts the analysis
framework by Seed [1,6] and converts the CRR and CSR estimations
of the other two methods into the same platform; i.e., CRRave,M and
CSRave,M=7.5, where CRRave,M is the adjusted average cyclic resistance
ratio of the ground for an earthquake magnitude other than 7.5,
and CSRave,M=7.5 is the average cyclic stress ratio of an earthquake
shaking with a magnitude of 7.5. For an earthquake magnitude
other than 7.5, the original CRR7.5 prediction in all of the methods

FC = 5%

6.3. Comparison of CSR predictions


Results of the CSR predictions by the three methods for the 1999
earthquake are shown in Table 5. Generally, cyclic shear stresses
are higher at liquefaction sites than those at non-liquefaction sites.
The cyclic stress ratio, however, appears to be slightly increasing
with depth, at both liquefaction and non-liquefaction sites. The
computed CSRs are similar for the three methods considered. Due
to a more conservative assumption on the stress reduction

FC = 15%

FC = 35%

0.5

0.5

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.3

CRR

CRR

CRR

0.5

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.2

0.1

0.1
Seeds method

Seeds method

Seeds method

T & Ys method

T & Ys method

T & Ys method

NJRAs method

NJRAs method

NJRAs method

0
0

10

20

(N1)60

30

40

50

0
0

10

20

(N1)60

30

40

50

10

20

(N1)60

Fig. 12. CRRavN1,60 curves for liquefaction analysis of the 1999 earthquake (CRR converted per Seeds analysis framework).

30

40

50

402

M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Table 4
Comparison of CRRs by various analysis methods for the 1999 earthquake (CRR converted per Seeds analysis framework).
FC (%)

SPT-N1,60
02

28

810

(a) Emphasis on the highest cyclic resistance ratio (CRRav)


55
S>TN
N>T>S
N>T>S
15
T>S>N
T>N>S
T>N>S
35
T>NS
T>NS
S>TN
Remark: The bold symbol (S, T, N) indicates the method with the highest computed

1012

1215

1524

>24

N>T>S
T>S>N
S>TN
CRR value.

N>S>T
S>T>N
S>TN

S>N>T
S>T>N
S>N>T

S>T>N
ST>N
N>S>T

N>S>T
S>T>N
S>TN

S>N>T
S>T>N
S>N>T

S>T>N
ST>N
N>S>T

(b) Emphasis on the lowest cyclic resistance ratio (CRRav)


55
S>TN
N>T>S
N>T>S
N>T>S
15
T>S>N
T>N>S
T>N>S
T>S>N
35
T>NS
T>NS
S>TN
S>TN
Remark: The bold symbol (S, T, N) indicates the method with the lowest computed CRR value.
Note: S = NCEER modied Seeds method (Youd et al., 2001).
T = Tokimatsu and Yoshimis method (1983).
N = The new version of Japan Roadway Associations method (JRA, 1996).

Table 5
Comparison of CSRs by various analysis methods for the 1999 earthquake (CSR converted per Seeds analysis framework).
Depth (m)

03.75 m
Average
3.756.75 m
Average
6.759.75 m
Average
>9.75 m
Average
a
b

CSRTYa

CSRSeed

CSRNJRA,aveb

CSRNJRA,max

Liquefaction
boreholes

Non-liquefaction
boreholes

Liquefaction
boreholes

Non-liquefaction
boreholes

Liquefaction
boreholes

Non-liquefaction
boreholes

Liquefaction
boreholes

Non-liquefaction
boreholes

0.140.26
0.19
0.160.24
0.21
0.200.24
0.23
0.150.24
0.20

0.020.40
0.09
0.030.42
0.11
0.040.37
0.12
0.030.42
0.10

0.130.25
0.17
0.160.22
0.20
0.190.23
0.21
0.160.23
0.20

0.020.40
0.09
0.020.40
0.10
0.030.35
0.11
0.030.42
0.10

0.200.39
0.28
0.230.35
0.31
0.290.35
0.32
0.250.35
0.31

0.040.48
0.14
0.040.50
0.16
0.050.50
0.17
0.050.50
0.17

0.130.26
0.18
0.160.23
0.20
0.190.23
0.21
0.160.23
0.20

0.030.31
0.09
0.030.33
0.10
0.030.33
0.11
0.030.33
0.11

Assume M = 7.5.
Assume CSRNJRA,ave = 0.1(M  1)CSR

NJRA,max

= 0.1(7.5  1)CSR

NJRA,max

= 0.65CSR

NJRA,max.

6.4. Comparison of liquefaction and non-liquefaction predictions

computed CRR curves of Seeds method at a depth interval of


6.759.75 m. Similarly, better matched cases for the TY method
are located at depth intervals of 3.756.75 m (Fig. 13) and 6.75
9.75 m, and that for the NJRA method is located at a depth interval
of 6.759.75 m.

6.4.1. Predictions vs. observations


The comparisons stated previously provide a general view on
the situations where CRR or CSR might be overestimated or underestimated for the N-based methods considered. However, the accuracy of predictions by the various methods has not yet been
veried.
The assessment methods compute CRR and CSR, and hence the
factor of safety against liquefaction, at any given depth of a borehole. Without knowing the exact location of liquefaction, this study
postulates four potential depth intervals of liquefaction (i.e.,
03.75 m, 3.756.75 m, 6.759.75 m, and >9.75 m), and computes
the CRR and CSR accordingly for the depth points within the
intervals. Results of the analyses for a certain depth interval are
subsequently compared with observations from the earthquake.
Fig. 13 shows typical results of the analyses for a depth interval between 3.75 m and 6.75 m.
Several post-quake explorations have been carried out at Yuanlin Town, and the results reveal a potentially liqueable layer of
silty ne to medium sand, with a thickness of about 3 m, located
within the top 9 m of the prole [29,39]. Tests on erupted and
cored samples also indicate that the liqueable soils contain significant amounts of non-plastic nes (FC = 1045%) [30,39].
In view of the high nes content of liqueed soils, the comparison of predictions and observations indicates that the locations of
liquefaction boreholes appear to be better matched with the

6.4.2. Prediction errors


In order to quantify the above comparison of the analyses
methods, this study considers a measurement of the error estimates in analysis and adopts the terms: prediction error ratios
for liquefaction and non-liquefaction sites (eL and eNL), which
are illustrated and dened in Fig. 14. Since SPT-N-based analysis
schemes generally divide the CSRN1,60 space into liquefaction
and non-liquefaction regions by a CRR curve, predictions would
be correct if a liquefaction site is determined by a liquefaction prediction, and a non-liquefaction site is determined by a non-liquefaction prediction. Conversely, if a site has a known liquefaction
or non-liquefaction condition, but is dened by the other side of
the predicted condition, then the prediction would be incorrect.
It is noted that there is no scale to measure how accurate is a correct prediction. However, a measurement on how far the prediction deviates from a correct (CRR) boundary would be exists for
an incorrect prediction. Accordingly, this study adopts the concept
of measuring prediction inaccuracy for comparing the accuracy in
prediction by various liquefaction assessment methods.
Results of prediction error ratios for liquefaction and non-liquefaction sites are shown in Tables 6 and 7, respectively. For
liquefaction cases (Table 6), the minimum average prediction error
ratios (eL,av,min) appear to be located at the depth interval of
3.756.75 m, for all of the assessment methods studied. However,

coefcient (rd), however, TY and NJRA methods provide somewhat smaller predictions than the Seeds method.

403

M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Seeds Method, 3.75-6.75m

T & Ys Method, 3.75-6.75m

NJRAs Method, 3.75-6.75m


0.5

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.3

CSR

CSR

0.5

CSR

0.5

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.2

0.1

CRR, FC = 5%

0.1

CRR, FC = 5%

CRR, FC = 15%

CRR, FC = 35%

CRR, FC = 35%

CRR, FC = 35%

Liquefaction cases

Liquefaction cases

Liquefaction cases
Non-liquefaction cases

Non-liquefaction cases

Non-liquefaction cases

0
0

10

20

30

40

CRR, FC = 5%
CRR, FC = 15%

CRR, FC = 15%

50

0
0

10

20

30

(N1)60

(N1)60

40

50

10

20

30

40

50

(N1)60

Fig. 13. Comparison of predictions vs. observations for analysis at a depth interval: 3.756.75 m during the 1999 earthquake (M = 7.6).

CSR
&
CRR

Prediction Error Ratio for


Liquefaction Site, L:

CRR
Curve

Liquefaction
Region

L =

CSRB

CRRA CSRA
CRRA

Prediction Error Ratio for


Non-Liquefaction Site, NL:

NL =
CRRB

CSRB CRRB
CRRB

Liquefaction Site:
CRRA
CSRA

NonLiquefaction
Region

NA

NB

Non-Liquefaction Site:

Falsely-Assigned
Liquefaction Site:

SPT-N

Fig. 14. Schematic illustration on prediction error ratios.

the smallest percentage of cases with erroneous predictions (PL,err,min) would be at the depth interval of 6.759.75 m. In consideration
of the prediction error and population of the cases for the whole
depth range, the NJRA method yields the smallest sum of the
weighted average prediction error ratio (min.REL,av; i.e., most accurate), the TY method next, and Seeds method the greatest (max.REL,av; i.e., least accurate) for the liquefaction cases.
For non-liquefaction cases (Table 7), the minimum average prediction error ratios (eNL,av,min) are located at the same depth interval
(3.756.75 m) as the liquefaction cases. However, the minimum
percentage of cases with erroneous predictions (PNL,err) is located
at the top depth interval (03.75 m) for all of the analysis methods.
Considering the prediction error and population of the cases for the
whole depth range for non-liquefaction cases, the sum of the
weighted average prediction error ratios (RENL,av) is the smallest
for the TY method (i.e., most accurate), next smallest for Seeds
method, and greatest for the NJRA method (i.e., least accurate).
The above discussion appears to be inconclusive because liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases are not considered at the same

time. An overall sum of weighted average prediction error ratios


(OPER) is subsequently dened and computed for all the assessment
methods to combine both cases together and account for the population in each of the cases. As shown in Table 8, the OPER ranking
indicates that the TY method would be most accurate (i.e., the
smallest OPER) in predicting both liquefaction and non-liquefaction
cases with Seeds method following in accuracy, while the NJRA
method would be least accurate in prediction (i.e., the greatest
OPER).
The aforementioned OPER ranking is based upon the computation of liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases for the entire depth
range of borehole, which could be obscured by the involvement of
non-critical depth intervals consisting of higher percentages of
cases with erroneous predictions or higher prediction error ratios.
The ranking of prediction accuracy is consequently improved by
using the critical depth interval.
In consideration of the depth interval that would provide minimum average prediction error ratios (eL,av,min or eNL,av,min) for liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases (Tables 6 and 7), a critical depth
range of 3.756.75 m is selected. This critical depth interval appears to be consistent with the location of the potential liqueable
layer identied during on-site explorations after the earthquake
[29,39]. Based on the critical depth range, the OPER ranking is computed as indicated in Table 9. This shows that the TY method provides the most accurate prediction and the NJRA method next
accurate, whereas Seeds method yields the least accuracy.
From a safe (or conservative) design standpoint, an erroneous
prediction at a liquefaction site (i.e., a non-liquefaction prediction)
would be the primary concern. As determined through the values
of REL,av or EL,av shown in Tables 8 and 9 for the whole depth range
or the critical depth interval, the NJRA method yields the most
accurate (or safest) prediction and the TY method would yield
the second most accurate prediction, whereas Seeds method
would be the least accurate.
6.4.3. Potential impact due to falsely-assigned borehole category
As discussed in Section 5.2, the analysis boreholes are pre-assigned as liquefaction or non-liquefaction ones based on the condition of surface manifestations in the vicinity of the boreholes
during the 1999 earthquake. Since surface manifestations may

404

M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406

Table 6
Prediction errors for liquefaction cases (whole depth range) in the 1999 earthquake (M = 7.6).
Method

Depth interval (m)

Depth case analyzed

Percentage of cases
with erroneous
predictions PL,err (%)

Average prediction
error ratio eL,av

Weighted average
prediction error
ratioa EL,av (%)

Sum of weighted
average prediction
error ratio REL,av (%)

Ranking

Seed

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

56
51
23
169

57.1
37.3
4.4
53.3

0.264
0.186
0.321
0.237

15.06
6.93
1.40
12.64

36.0

TY

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

58
51
23
175

56.9
31.4
4.4
33.1

0.210
0.166
0.267
0.261

11.95
5.20
1.16
8.66

27.0

NJRA

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

64
52
22
172

51.6
15.4
4.6
20.9

0.296
0.141
0.205
0.337

15.27
2.16
0.93
7.05

25.4

Note: Bold numbers indicate the minimum values in all depth intervals.
a
EL,av = PL,err  eL,av  100.

Table 7
Prediction errors for non-liquefaction cases (whole depth range) in the 1999 earthquake (M = 7.6).
Method

Depth
interval
(m)

Depth case
analyzed

Percentage of cases with


erroneous predictions PNL,err
(%)

Average prediction
error ratio eNL,av

Weighted average
prediction error ratioa ENL,av
(%)

Sum of weighted average


prediction error ratio RENL,av (%)

Ranking

Seed

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

643
1100
783
2613

7.0
12.5
11.1
9.1

0.377
0.293
0.334
0.332

2.65
3.66
3.72
3.03

13.1

TY

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

655
1112
801
2756

5.1
8.7
9.7
9.3

0.453
0.331
0.361
0.384

2.30
2.88
3.51
3.58

12.3

NJRA

03.75
3.756.75
6.759.75
>9.75

811
1240
920
3014

5.2
9.9
10.1
10.1

0.473
0.365
0.396
0.390

2.46
3.60
3.99
3.95

14.0

Bold numbers indicate the minimum values in all depth intervals.


a
ENL,av = PNL,err  eNL,av  100.

Table 8
Prediction errors for liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases (whole depth range) in the 1999 earthquake (M = 7.6).
Method

Seed
TY
NJRA

Liquefaction cases

Non-liquefaction cases

Sum of weighted average


prediction error ratio REL,av
(%)

Ratio of analyzed
borehole numbers
BL

Sum of weighted average


prediction error ratio RENL,av
(%)

Ratio of analyzed
borehole numbers
BNL

36.0
27.0
25.4

66/986
67/994
67/997

13.1
12.3
14.0

920/986
927/994
930/997

Overall sum of weighted average


prediction error ratio OPER (%)

Ranking

14.6
13.3
14.8

2
1
3

Note: OPER = REL,av  BL + RENL,av  BNL.

not fully reect the occurrence of soil liquefaction underneath the


ground, as shown by Youd and Carter [40], the above criterion for
assigning borehole categories could result in two unwanted situations: (i) a falsely-assigned liquefaction borehole, and (ii) a falselyassigned non-liquefaction borehole. A falsely-assigned liquefaction
borehole is unlikely because the observed liquefaction phenomena
on the ground surface cannot produce without the causes other
than soil liquefaction under the ground. Conversely, a falsely-assigned non-liquefaction borehole is likely due to the fact that the
extent of soil liquefaction could be hindered by thick overlying
strata.
Since detailed ground response analysis, as the ones shown by
Youd and Carter [40], has not been performed for all of the non-liquefaction boreholes, the actual number of falsely-assigned non-liq-

uefaction boreholes cannot be certain. In viewing that most of the


observed liquefaction sites during the 1999 earthquake are clustered in few townships, which account for a small portion of borehole population as compared with the entire borehole database,
the actual number of falsely-assigned non-liquefaction borehole
should be limited in this study.
As shown in Fig. 14, the falsely-assigned non-liquefaction borehole (XO) could fall on both sides of the CRR boundary curve. For XO
above the CRR curve, the prediction error ratio (eNL), and the
weighted prediction error ratio (ENL) as well, will be computed
for the falsely-assigned non-liquefaction boreholes, which will result in a slightly-overestimated overall weighted prediction error
ratio (OPER). For XO below the CRR curve, however, the prediction
error ratio (eL), and the weighted prediction error ratio (EL) as well,

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M. Chang et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 393406


Table 9
Prediction errors for liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases (critical depth interval: 3.756.75 m) in the 1999 earthquake (M = 7.6).
Method

Seed
TY
NJRA

Liquefaction cases

Non-liquefaction cases

Weighted average
prediction error ratio EL,av
(%)

Ratio of analyzed
borehole numbers BL

Weighted average
prediction error ratio ENL,av
(%)

Ratio of analyzed
borehole numbers BNL

6.93
5.20
2.16

66/986
67/994
67/997

3.66
2.88
3.60

920/986
927/994
930/997

Overall weighted average


prediction error ratio OPER (%)

Ranking

3.88
3.04
3.50

3
1
2

Note: OPER = EL,av  BL + ENL,av  BNL.

will not be computed as they should be for the actually liqueed


(but falsely-assigned) boreholes, which will result in a slightlyunderestimated overall weighted prediction error ratio (OPER).
It is noted that similar degrees of over or under estimations on
the OPER computation would exist among various liquefaction
assessment methods considered in this study. In addition, the over
and under estimations of OPER due to falsely-assigned non-liquefaction boreholes would be partially self-compensated, which renders
the nal OPER computation (including liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases) essentially unchanged.
In consideration of the above discussions, the falsely-assigned
non-liquefaction boreholes should have a minimal inuence on
the overall prediction error computations, and the major ndings
of this study should remain unchanged.
7. Concluding remarks
This study examines the computation sensitivity and prediction
accuracy of several SPT-N-based methods, using liquefaction and
non-liquefaction incidents of the 1999 Chi-chi Earthquake in
Taiwan. The major ndings of the study are listed as follows:
(1) Sensitivity studies on parameters adopted in the N-based
methods show that the SPT blow count (N) and peak ground
acceleration (amax) are most sensitive in the computed liquefaction potential. Hammer energy ratio (ER), earthquake
magnitude (M), nes content (FC), and groundwater depth
(GWT) follow in sensitivity. Stress reduction factor (rd) and
overburden pressure correction factor (CN) appear least
sensitive.
(2) By converting CRR and CSR estimations into the same analysis framework by Seed [1,6], Seeds method provides the
highest CRR predictions at higher blow counts (e.g.,
N1,60 > 10) and yields the lowest CRR values at lower blow
counts (e.g., N1,60 < 10). The TY method appears to compute
the highest CRR for FC = 15% and N1,60 < 10, and lowest CRR
for FC ; 35% and N1,60 = 10. The NJRA method would be
greatest in CRR for FC < 5% and N1,60 < 15, and least in CRR
for FC ; 15% and N1,60 > 10. For CSR predictions, TY and
NJRA methods provide somewhat smaller predictions than
the Seeds method.
(3) By comparing predictions and observations during the
earthquake, locations of liquefaction boreholes appear better
matched with the computed CRR curves by Seeds method at
a depth interval of 6.759.75 m. Similarly, better matched
cases for the TY method are at depth intervals of
3.756.75 m and 6.759.75 m, and for the NJRA method a
depth interval of 6.759.75 m.
(4) In liquefaction and non-liquefaction cases, the minimum
average prediction error ratios (eL,av,min and eNL,av,min) are
computed at a depth interval of 3.756.75 m, for all the
N-based assessment methods studied. This critical depth
interval appears to be consistent with the location of potentially liqueable layers identied on-site.

(5) Based on computations of liquefaction and non-liquefaction


cases for the entire depth range of a borehole, the OPER (overall weighted average prediction error ratio) ranking shows
that the TY method would yield the most accurate (i.e.,
the smallest OPER) prediction and Seeds method the second
most accurate prediction, while the NJRA method yields
the least accurate prediction (i.e., the greatest OPER).
(6) For the critical depth interval of 3.756.75 m, the OPER ranking shows the TY method remains most accurate and the
NJRA method following in accuracy, whereas Seeds method
is the least accurate in predicting both liquefaction and nonliquefaction cases.
(7) Prediction error ratios for the N-based methods considered
in this study are usually similar and negligible, indicating
that all of the methods are generally applicable for the
1999 earthquake of Taiwan.
As mentioned previously, the analysis methods considered in
this study are primarily for design purposes. Differences between
the analysis results and the observations during the earthquake reect the simplications adopted in each method. Although the
methods studied herein provide similar degrees of accuracy in predicting the liquefaction incidents during the 1999 earthquake, the
methods are by no means accurate enough for predicting soil liquefaction in all cases. Peck [31] has raised a relevant viewpoint
regarding the issue of science and practice in liquefaction evaluation in his remark, engineering science and engineering practice
are not identical. An analysis method that is considered to be reasonably adequate for applications should have sufcient eld evidence and verications.
Acknowledgement
Financial support from the National Council for Research in
Earthquake Engineering of Taiwan (NSC89-2711-3-319-200-28,
NSC90-2711-3-319-200-12, NSC91-2711-3-319-200-08) are gratefully appreciated.
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