Simulation of liquefaction-induced damage of the Port of Long Beach using the UBC3D-PLM model

Project Number


Project Summary

Liquefaction-induced damage has been reported in numerous seismic events around the world: Alaska 1964, Japan 1995, Turkey 1999, Taiwan 1999, Iran 2004 and China 2008. Southern California has an extensive record of seismic events mainly caused by ruptures of the San Andreas Fault, which extends from the Imperial Valley in Southern California to Cape Mendocino, approximately 150 miles north of San Francisco. The Port of Long Beach is located within a few miles of this fault line, and is near the Newport-Inglewood and the Palos Verdes faults. The port has experienced significant expansion projects in the past decades which have been completed by placing hydraulic fill behind rock retention dikes. These man-made loose deposits have shown to be susceptible to liquefaction. This research intends to calibrate numerical models with field tests from a comprehensive technical review of geotechnical engineering reports and technical papers concerning the Port of Long Beach. The abundance of quality field and laboratory testing performed in this project offers a unique opportunity to use advanced constitutive models for predicting the potential of liquefaction-induced damage that the port could experience in future earthquakes. Most of the liquefaction studies from the port have been oriented to qualitatively discuss the effects of liquefaction but not to quantitatively demonstrate the phenomenon via advanced constitutive soil models and finite element programs. The design, construction, and prediction capabilities in geotechnical engineering have improved significantly with computational advancements and sophisticated constitutive models that can capture the fundamental behavior of soils. This research is intended to visually explain the potential for liquefaction at the Port of Long Beach with numerical simulations using PLAXIS 2D. The research will provide estimates of the permanent deformations, both on the ground and on slopes. The ultimate goal is to determine how resilient this project will be in the event of an earthquake. This project will contribute to understanding the role of engineering on the resiliency of the Port of Long Beach, which is vital for the California freight network.

Project Status


Project Report



Topic Area

Sustainable Urban Freight

P.I. Name & Address

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Eng. Management
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
MS 5101, VEC-109
Long Beach, CA 90840-5101
United States


Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management; College of Engineering
California State University Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840
United States

Funding Source


Total Project Cost


Agency ID or Contract Number

Grant No: 65A0533

Start and End Dates

8/15/2015 to 8/14/2016