Sudden soil subsidence due to large magnitude earthquakes: the case of Mexico City
by Jorge Abraham Díaz-Rodríguez
International Journal of Earthquake and Impact Engineering (IJEIE), Vol. 4, No. 1, 2022

Abstract: The field observations in Mexico City during three large-magnitude earthquakes that occurred on 28 July 1957 (Mw = 7.6), 19 September 1985 (Mw = 8.0) and 19 September 2017 (Mw = 7.1), offered several opportunities for observing a singular phenomenon: the sudden subsidence of ground and settlement of buildings. Sudden subsidence is a phenomenon that is far from being understood, and its transcendence is not fully appreciated. This paper aims to provide an insight into the cyclic compression of clayey soils. To understand the sudden subsidence phenomenon, a series of cyclic simple shear tests were performed on subsoil of Mexico City. These test results show that cyclic simple shear tests at constant vertical stresses agree reasonably well with field observations. Cyclic shear stresses deform the soil sample allowing soil particles to move back and forth. During each shear stress cycle, compression follows expansion, producing changes in the clay structure due to the physical sliding and reorientation of particles. These mechanisms are essential factors in the strength development and the compressibility of clayey soils, resulting in a progressive volume change of the soil, and consequently, the subsidence during large-magnitude earthquakes.

Online publication date: Fri, 13-May-2022

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