NEES: CENSEIS: Centrifuge and Full-scale Modeling of Seismic Pore Pressures in Sands

By Tarek Abdoun, Waleed El-Sekelly, Ricardo Dobry, Sabanayagam Thevanayagam and Marcelo Gonzalez

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The authors of this database are Tarek Abdoun (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Waleed El-Sekelly (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Ricardo Dobry (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Sabanayagam Thevanayagam (University at Buffalo) and Marcelo Gonzalez (Corporacion del Cobre ). The database was published at NEEShub on January 30 2015 and has been reproduced here to preserve the data and ensure continued access.

Note: The NEEShub links in this database now point to warehouse project locations at DesignSafe where available. Column links for Sensor Description and Setup and Instrumentation point to the appropriate warehouse project at DesignSafe. Columns links for Soil Description and Grain Size Distribution can no longer be resolved.

Database Abstract

doi: 10.4231/D3GF0MX4F

Centrifuge and full-scale testing in geotechnical Engineering are very useful tools in modeling soil behavior under different loading conditions, particularly under earthquake loading. The database contains results of nine full-scale and centrifuge liquefaction experiments performed both at the geoctechnical centrifuge testing facility at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the full-scale testing facility at the University at Buffalo (UB). The database was generated using the online DataStore tool under the name CENSEIS: Centrifuge and full-scale Modeling of Seismic Pore Pressures in Sands

Database organization

The database is in the form of a table in which each row corresponds to an experiment. The database is composed of nine centrifuge and full-scale experiments. The columns of the database table provide detailed information about the characteristics of each experiment as follows:

  • Column A represents the test name as reported by the corresponding reference in column E. In this column, FF stands for Free Field, PF for Pile Foundation, V for Viscous fluid and P for water. The last two experiments are full-scale experiments in which LG stands for Level Ground and SG stands for Sloping Ground.
  • Column B represents the type of the experiment, C stands for Centrifuge and F for Full-scale.
  • Column C is the location of the testing facility. All centrifuge experiments in this database were performed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The full-scale experiments were performed at University at Buffalo (UB).
  • Column D is the year in which the experiment was performed.
  • Column E is the reference that include all the detailed procedures and analysis of the corresponding experiments.
  • Column F is the container that was used in the experiments. It has to be noted that all the centrifuge experiments were performed in the laminar container and the two full-scale experiments were performed in the full-scale laminar container, explained previously in the paper.
  • Column G indicates the presence of pile foundation in the experiments. Y stands for Yes and N stands for No.
  • Column H indicates the corrected inclination of the container in degrees. It has to be noted that several corrections needed to be applied to achieve these values of prototype inclination. Details about the corrections can be found in Gonzalez (2008).
  • Column I is a link to the schematic diagram of the set up and instrumentation of the each model.
  • Column J is a link to the detailed description of each sensor in each experiment. This includes, but not limited to, the type of the sensor, the units and the calibration factors. It has to be noted that the calibration factors are already applied to the data, so the user can use the data without the need to do a correction for calibration.
  • Column K is the actual model depth. It has to be noted that the prototype depth of all the centrifuge experiments was about 6.0 m (0.24 m * 25 g = 6 m, where g is the gravitational g level indicated in column L), which is about the same depth of the full-scale model.
  • Column L is the gravitational acceleration of the centrifuge model in (g)s. It must be noted that all the centrifuge experiments were performed at 25 g. For the full scale experiment, the g-level is the conventional field 1g gravitational acceleration.
  • Column M is the soil deposition method in the model. All the centrifuge experiment models were deposited by dry pluviation, while the full-scale model were deposited by hydraulically filling.
  • Column N is the overall relative density of the model, estimated using the standard techniques used in the centrifuge and full scale laboratory.  For the centrifuge models, careful weighing of the box with and without the dry soil is used to determine the average density and void ratio. For the full scale models, the soil density was determined by placing several steel buckets (15 cm in diameter and 15 cm in height) in the laminar container, and allowing them to be filled during the construction of the deposit, and then pulling them out for conventional density testing. The relative density is confirmed using cone penetration testing after the model is fully constructed.
  • Column O is the average normalized shear wave velocity estimated using an established System Identification (SI) technique of the weak shakings conducted specifically for this purpose at the beginning of the experiment, see Elgamal et al. (1995, 1996) and Zeghal et al. (1995). These values were adopted from Abdoun et al. (2013). 
  • Column P, Q, and R describe the soil used in each experiment. Two types of soils were used in the experiments; Ottawa F55 sand, and scaled sand.
  • Column S is the saturation fluid used in each experiment. As previously explained, all the experiments had about the same prototype permeability. In order to achieve that, centrifuge experiments on Ottawa F55 sand were saturated with viscous fluid, while centrifuge experiments on scaled sand were saturated with water. The two full-scale experiments were both saturated with water resulting in the same permeability of the centrifuge experiments.
  • Column T is the type of the base motion shaking. In all the cases the base motions were approximately sinusoidal. Typically, the base motion was composed of 15-30 sinusoidal cycles with increasing amplitude with time. The actual base motion applied in each experiment can be extracted from the accelerometer recording at the base of each model from the data file in column U.
  • Column U is a link to the data file of each experiment. Typically the data file is composed of several columns. The first column is always the time, which typically uniformly increase with a constant time step that was set by the experimentalist. The rest of the columns are the readings of each individual calibrated sensor, in the list of sensors in column J. These recordings can be used to generate acceleration, pore pressure or deformation time histories at several locations of the model. It has to be noted that the centrifuge results need to be corrected for g-level using the appropriate conventional centrifuge modeling scaling laws.


Abdoun, T., Dobry, R., O'Rourke, T., and Goh, S. (2003). “Pile response to lateral spreads: Centrifuge modeling,” J. Geotech. and Geoenviron. Eng., 129(10), 869-878

Abdoun, T., Gonzalez, M. A., Thevanayagam, S., Dobry, R., Elgamal, A., Zeghal, M., Mercado, V. M., and El Shamy, U. (2013). “Centrifuge and Large Scale Modeling of Seismic Pore Pressures in Sands: a Cyclic Strain Interpretation.” J. of Geotech. and Geoenvir. Engng., 139(8),  1215-1234.

Andrus, R. D., and Stokoe II, K. H. (2000). “Liquefaction Resistance of Soils from Shear-Wave Velocity,” J. of Geotech. and Geoenvir. Engng., 126(11), 1015-1025.

Dobry, R. and Abdoun, T. (2011). “An Investigation Into Why Liquefaction Charts Work: A Necessary Step Toward Integrating the States of Art And Practice, Ishihara Lecture.” Proc., the 5th Int. Conf. on Earthquake Geotechnical Engng., Santiago, Chile, Jan. 10-13, 13-44.

Dobry, R., Abdoun, T., Thevanayagam, S., El-Ganainy, H., and Mercado, V. (2013). “Case Histories in Loose Sand Fills During the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake: Comparison with Large Scale and Centrifuge Shaking Tests,” Proc., the 7th Int. Conf. on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engng. (S. Prakash, ed.), April 29-May 4, Chicago, IL, Paper No. 4.15a, 1-4.

Dobry, R.,Abdoun, T.,Stokoe, K.H. II, Moss, R.E.S., Hatton, M., and El Ganainy, H. (2014). “Liquefaction Potential of Recent Fills versus Natural Sands Located in High Seismicity Regions Using Shear Wave Velocity,” J. of Geotech. and Geoenvir. Engng., in press.

Elgamal, A. W., Zeghal, M., Tang, H. T., and Stepp, J. C. (1995). “Lotung Downhole Array. I: Evaluation of Site Dynamic Properties.” J. of Geotech. and Geoenvir. Engng., 121(4), 350-362.

Elgamal, A.-W., Zeghal., M., Taboada, V., and Dobry, R. (1996). “Analysis of Site Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading Using Centrifuge Testing Records.” Soils and Found., 36(2), 111-121.

Gonzalez, L. (2005). “Centrifuge modeling of permeability and pinning reinforcement effects on pile response to lateral spreading.”  PhD Thesis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy, NY.

Gonzalez, M.A. (2008). “Centrifuge Modeling of Pile Foundation Response to Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading: Study of Sand Permeability and Compressibility Effects Using Scaled Sand Techniques.” PhD Thesis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

Sharp, M. and Dobry, R. (2002). “Sliding Block analysis of lateral spreading based in centrifuge results,” International Journal of Physical Modelling in Geotechnics,  2, 13-22

Taboada, V. (1995). “Centrifuge Modeling of Earthquakes – Induced Lateral Spreading in Sand using Laminar Box”. PhD Thesis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA

Thevanayagam, S., Kanagalingam, T., Reinhorn, A., Tharmendhira, R., Dobry, R., Pitman, M., Abdoun, T., Elgamal, A., Zeghal, M., Ecemis, N. and El Shamy, U., (2009), “Laminar Box System for 1-g Physical Modeling of Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading.” Geotech. Testing J., 32(5), 438-449.

Ubilla J. (2007). “Physical modeling of the effects of Natural Hazards on Soil- Structure Interaction.” PhD Thesis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Tarek Abdoun, Waleed El-Sekelly, Ricardo Dobry, Sabanayagam Thevanayagam and Marcelo Gonzalez (2015), "NEES: CENSEIS: Centrifuge and Full-scale Modeling of Seismic Pore Pressures in Sands,"

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