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Low velocity surface layers can significantly increase ground accelerations during earthquakes. When saturated sandy sediments are present, because of pore pressure increase, decrease of soil strength or even liquefaction can occur. Some volume change follows the dissipation of excess pore pressure after the earthquake resulting surface settlements. To determine the liquefaction probability and post-liquefaction settlement is very important for critical facilities e.g. for the site of Paks Nuclear Power Plant, Hungary. Pore pressure increase and so the liquefaction and surface settlements depend on the characteristics of seismic loading and soil parameters. To quantify the extent of these phenomena is rather difficult. Uncertainties arise both from the probabilistic nature of the earthquake loading and from the simplifications of soil models as well. In the paper, the most important semi-empirical and dynamical effective stress methods for liquefaction and post-liquefaction settlement assessment are summarized. Most significant contributors to the uncertainties are highlighted, and particular examples through the investigation of Paks NPP site are given. Finally, a probabilistic procedure is proposed where the uncertainties will be taken into account by applying a logic tree methodology. At the same time, the uncertainties are reduced by the use of site-specific UHRS and stress reduction factors.

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The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia is a growing city with population around 1.22 million. The city is exposed to a high seismic risk since it is placed in the centre of Sofia seismic area. Over the centuries in the town of Sofia the macroseismic intensities have been larger than IX (MSK). A study of the site effects and the microzonation of a part of metropolitan Sofia, based on a  modelling of seismic ground motion along three cross sections are presented. Realistic synthetic strong motion waveforms have been computed for an expected scenario earthquake (M=7) applying a hybrid modelling method, based  on the modal summation technique and finite differences scheme. The site amplification is determined in terms of response spectra ratio (RSR). A set of time histories and quantities of earthquake engineering interest are supplied, that allow the definition of six zones characterized by specific response spectra. The results from this study constitute a “database” that describes the ground shaking of the urban area.  The synthetic velocigrams are employed to calculate the distribution of the horizontal strain factor Log10e using a simplified relation between particle velocity and velocity of shear waves in the surface layer. It is shown  that it is possible to estimate liquefaction susceptibility in terms of standard penetration tests (SPT), Nvalues and initial over burden stress. Using the data for maximum particle velocity and empirical relationships developed from the Northridge earthquake, 1994 the distributions of the expected pipe breaks and red-tagged buildings for Sofia city are shown.

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