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Earthquake liquefaction

Earthquake liquefaction, often referred to simply as liquefaction, is the process by which saturated, unconsolidated soil or sand is converted into a suspension during an earthquake.

The effect on structures and buildings can be devastating, and is a major contributor to urban seismic risk.

Ancient earthquakes have caused liquefaction, leaving a record in the sediments (paleoseismology).

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Earthquake liquefaction", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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