Many are the phenomena that can produce important changes in the different soils or terrains that make up the surface of planet Earth. Among these phenomena we can refer to the liquefaction of soils , known in some cases as land liquefaction. A situation that can arise very quickly by the action of nature or in some cases, by the human hand .


What is liquefaction?

The liquefaction or liquefaction of soils, as it is also known, is a process that occurs mainly in those lands that are not well compact, thus producing an important movement in the lands.

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of liquefaction
  • Process
  • Liquefaction in medicine
  • Differences with condensation
  • Importance
  • Examples of liquefaction


The liquefaction of soils is a kind of phenomenon mainly of such nature that occurs after one occurs earthquake on the surface of the Earth that causes the stiffness and strength that has the yield ground and be lost instantly because a series of tensions produced quickly and unexpectedly .


This type of phenomenon occurs mainly in those types of soils that show, as a special condition, the saturation of their layers due to the presence of water or the presence of large amounts of layers of impermeable soil, such as clay soils .

Characteristics of liquefaction

Among its main characteristics we can mention the following:

  • It usually occurs in soils that have clayey layers or in those saturated by water.
  • They occur after a high-magnitude earthquake is generated .
  • It can cause great damage to the different structures that are close to the ground.
  • It can also damage roads and bridges .
  • They occur at a depth greater than 15 meters .
  • The water table of the soils that suffer from this phenomenon is at a shallower depth.
  • The land generally has a saturation of 100%.
  • After liquefaction occurs in the soil, it can no longer be considered stable and it cannot be suitable for construction.


Under conditions considered completely normal, the soil is characterized by presenting a good level of firmness and being compact . These characteristics are produced thanks to the gravitational force that occurs between the particles that make up the soil and by the presence of a very low percentage of water as well as other materials that help keep the land compact. However, at the moment in which the soils become saturated with water , there is an increase in the pressure of the pores and in all the soil particles, causing the force that exists between its particles to be reduced considerably, causing the land becomes more susceptible to stress.

When this percentage of water increases, the soil is practically floating and the contact that must exist between the particles to keep it together is lost, the compaction disappears and any type of movement that occurs in the place can cause large affectations. When an earthquake occurs at that time , the pressure of the water intensifies considerably, which further causes a decrease in the gravitational attraction on the particles, causing a total imbalance in the particles that were previously united.

In this way, the water cuts the ground and then goes to other places where there is less pressure, resulting in the ground giving way, damaging all the structures that are around the place at the same time. In this way, it is common to observe various effects on soils and structures, for example, serious damage to civil and coastal structures , landslides that can cause loss of human lives , problems in retaining walls and water dams .

Liquefaction in medicine

In the field of medicine , the liquefaction process can also occur . In this field, it is one of the causes by which tissue necrosis can occur , which is the degeneration of tissues due to cell death. Liquefaction can occur in the tissues in different ways, it can be fatty , caseous , coagulative , gangrenous or tissue. In many cases it can be observed in the different infections caused by bacteria or fungi. When there is the presence of lung abscesses, liquefaction can occur in the tissues, mainly in patients suffering from tuberculosis.

Differences with condensation

Its main difference is that condensation is a process that is produced due to the change that occurs in temperature and liquefaction occurs due to the change that originates in pressure . In other words, condensation occurs when the temperature drops considerably and liquefaction, on the other hand, when the pressure undergoes drastic changes.

Another aspect that can show the difference between the two is that liquefaction refers to the change of state that occurs in a substance when it manages to go from the gaseous state to the liquid , always caused by the increase in pressure; on the contrary, condensation occurs when the change of state from vapor to liquid occurs due to the reduction in temperature.


The importance of knowing the liquefaction of the soil is that, by being able to recognize the lands that present these characteristics, it is possible to prevent the construction of houses and buildings due to structural failures. It is important to recognize this type of soil because they are not considered suitable places to live nor are they stable soils. For this reason, conducting studies on the subject is of vital importance as the way in which precautions can be taken or to look for possible solutions .

Examples of liquefaction

Coal liquefaction

It is known as the Pott-Broche process and it is a chemical process that has the ability to convert coal into a mixture of hydrocarbons , which is normally known as synthetic crude. In the process, first the carbon is dissolved in a medium that is a solvent which will be at a high temperature and pressure and then hydrogen is added.

Gas liquefaction

The liquefaction of gases is a process that occurs when there is a change in the state of a substance that goes from a gaseous state to a liquid state . The process is produced by the increase in pressure and in the reduction of the temperature , which finally causes an increased overpressure. This process can be carried out and used for different industrial , commercial and scientific purposes .

Air liquefaction

This type of liquefaction is carried out with the main objective of being able to obtain argon , oxygen , nitrogen and some other types of gases. The process is done by subjecting the liquid air to a fractional distillation process . This type of conversion makes the gases can be stored more easily and safely. It is widely used, for example, in the production of oxygen for patients who are hospitalized or who need this gas, to perform cryogenic surgeries and in the preservation of biological samples.

Leave a Comment