Mitigation of Earthquake-Induced Liquefaction via Microbial Denitrification: A Two-Phase Process

Edward Kavazanjian, Sean T. O'Donnell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Microbial denitrification or dissimilatory reduction of nitrate offers the potential of a sustainable and cost-effective method for mitigation of earthquake-induced liquefaction. Carbonate precipitation via microbial denitrification is a slow process and may take years to precipitate enough carbonate to provide the desired degree of mitigation. Fortunately, large amounts of nitrogen gas are generated immediately upon the onset of denitrification. As desaturation by biogas generation is itself a liquefaction mitigation mechanism, liquefaction mitigation via microbial denitrification may be viewed as a two-phase process: an initial phase wherein desaturation via biogas generation provides mitigation and a second phase in which sufficient carbonate precipitation has occurred to provide mitigation via particle cementation and/or an increase in dilatancy. Microbial denitrification is suitable for remediation under and around existing facilities because it is non-disruptive. An advantage of microbial denitrification compared to hydrolysis of urea (ureolysis), another technique for microbial precipitation of carbonate, is that its primary by-products are benign (non-toxic). Another advantage of microbial denitrification is that denitrifying bacteria are ubiquitous in the subsurface. Laboratory test data demonstrates the ability of microbial denitrification to both desaturate the soil and induce carbonate precipitation, leading to an increase in strength and dilatancy, substantiating the concept of microbial denitrification as a two-phase process for mitigation of earthquake-induced liquefaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIFCEE 2015 - Proceedings of the International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015
EditorsJ. Brian Anderson, Magued Iskander, Muhannad T. Suleiman, Debra F. Laefer
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780784479087
StatePublished - 2015
EventInternational Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015, IFCEE 2015 - San Antonio, United States
Duration: Mar 17 2015Mar 21 2015

Publication series

NameGeotechnical Special Publication
VolumeGSP 256
ISSN (Print)0895-0563


OtherInternational Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo 2015, IFCEE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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