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Seismic Response of Landfills: In-situ Evaluation of Dynamic Properties of Municipal Solid Waste, Comparison to Laboratory Testing, and Impact on Numerical Analyses

Principal Investigator: Dimitrios Zekkos, University of Michigan

The increasing amounts of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated every year are, in their majority, landfilled. Modern MSW landfills (since the 1990s) are environmentally sensitive, sophisticated facilities and are similar in size to large dams. Recent U.S. earthquakes (e.g. 1994 Northridge Earthquake) highlighted the seismic vulnerability of MSW landfills. Excessive movement during shaking may damage the landfill's containment or cover system or cause stability failures. The impact of such failures on the environment can be devastating. The objectives of this study are: (a) using T-Rex and Thumper to evaluate the in-situ dynamic properties of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the small and intermediate-to-large strain range, where material nonlinearity is pronounced; (b) test the hypothesis that the dynamic properties of reconstituted MSW evaluated by large-scale laboratory testing are representative of the field conditions; (c) evaluate the major factors that affect the MSW dynamic properties and explore scaling laws that would allow testing of MSW in small-scale specimens; and, (d) numerically evaluate the seismic response of landfills accounting for the variability of MSW and provide recommendations for use in seismic design.