Recent and historical studies of earthquake-induced liquefaction, as well as paleoliquefaction studies, demonstrate the potential usefulness of liquefaction data in the assessment of the earthquake potential of seismic sources. Paleoliquefaction studies, along with other paleoseismology studies, supplement historical and instrumental seismicity and provide information about the long-term behavior of earthquake sources. Paleoliquefaction studies focus on soft-sediment deformation features, including sand blows and sand dikes, which result from strong ground shaking. Most paleoliquefaction studies have been conducted in intraplate geologic settings, but a few such studies have been carried out in interplate settings. Paleoliquefaction studies provide information about timing, location, magnitude, and recurrence of large paleoearthquakes, particularly those with moment magnitude, M
, greater than 6 during the past 50,000 years. This review paper presents background information on earthquake-induced liquefaction and resulting soft-sediment deformation features that may be preserved in the geologic record, best practices used in paleoliquefaction studies, and application of paleoliquefaction data in earthquake source characterization. The paper concludes with two examples of regional paleoliquefaction studies—in the Charleston seismic zone and the New Madrid seismic zone in the southeastern and central United States, respectively—which contributed to seismic source models used in earthquake hazard assessment.
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