The Iquique earthquake

Professors Kyle Rollins and Kevin Franke recently were asked by the NSF-funded Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association (GEER) to explore possible liquefaction damage from the recent April 1 Magnitude 8.2 and April Magnitude 7.6 earthquakes near Iquique, Chile. Drs. Rollins and Franke happened to already be in Chile at the time of the earthquake; they were performing NSF-funded research to investigate the damage mechanisms of piers affected by liquefaction during the massive Magnitude 8.8 earthquake near Concepcion in 2010.

The Iquique earthquake sequence resulted in over 2,500 structures damaged and a total of seven fatalities. A tsunami of up to two meters was reported in Iquique, Pisagua, and Africa, but little damage resulted. Drs. Rollins and Franke worked with Chilean researchers from the Universidad Católica de Chile and the Universidad de Concepción to investigate the liquefaction damage that resulted from the earthquakes. The reconnaissance team found and documented significant liquefaction damage at the port in Iquique and at a few bridges along the Ruta 5 highway between Iquique and Arica. In addition, several significant slope deformations in and around Iquique were observed, many of which damaged critical transportation routes in and out of the city, creating traffic bottlenecks as a result. These case histories of liquefaction and slope deformations will be reported to GEER, and will contribute to future studies by researchers wishing to learn from these disasters.