The 2003 M 6.5 San Simeon, California, earthquake caused liquefaction-induced lateral spreading at Oceano at an unexpectedly large distance from the seismogenic rupture. We conclude that the liquefaction was caused by ground motion that was enhanced by both rupture directivity in the mainshock and local site amplification by unconsolidated fine-grained deposits. Liquefaction occurred in sandy artificial fill and undisturbed eolian sand and fluvial deposits. The largest and most damaging lateral spread was caused by liquefaction of artificial fill; the head of this lateral spread coincided with the boundary between the artificial fill and undisturbed eolian sand deposits. Values of the liquefaction potential index, in general, were greater than 5 at liquefaction sites, the threshold value that has been proposed for liquefaction hazard mapping. Although the mainshock ground motion at Oceano was not recorded, peak ground acceleration was estimated to range from 0.25 and 0.28g on the basis of the liquefaction potential index and aftershock recordings. The estimates fall within the range of peak ground acceleration values associated with the modified Mercalli intensity = VII reported at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) "Did You Feel It?" web site.
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Liquefaction at Oceano, California, during the 2003 San Simeon earthquake