Soil liquefaction is a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil are reduced by earthquake shaking or rapid loading. This occurs in saturated soils when water in the earth (groundwater, in most cases) cannot drain quickly enough.

This leads to a significant increase in hydrostatic pressure in the ground, which in turn causes the earth – and,
in many cases, the structures upon it – to move. Even minor vibrations can trigger this effect. Buildings and infrastructure can sink,
resulting in them being condemned for use. Sloping ground and ground next to rivers and lakes can also slide on a liquefied soil layer and cause large cracks or fissures to open. This damages not only buildings and infrastructure, but also networks for water, natural gas, wastewater, electricity and telecommunication services – and underwater tanks and manholes can also start floating in the earth.


This can be avoided by compressing the earth at construction sites where new structures are to be built. The ground at construction sites must be thoroughly analysed before any work is planned. Cone penetration testing is one method used to analyse the soil. Developed in the Netherlands at the end of 1950, cone penetration testing is an economical soil investigation method that gives a good picture of the soil structure and its various layers. It is used globally in all areas where significant changes in soil-bearing capacity may occur when drilling
and building.

The test method involves pressing a cone-shaped tip into the ground at a constant speed. A specially equipped truck is used for the test. The testing results are illustrated in a graph that shows the cone resistance in relation to the cone depth. Along with soil resistance, the cone sensors used in the test measure the inclination of the cone, the friction ratio, soil temperature, conductivity and water tension. The latter
parameter is measured using the 21Y pressure transmitter from Keller.

Series 21Y piezoresistive pressure transmitter

Y-line transmitters have a very low-temperature error. This is achieved by utilising an additional circuit with a temperature sensor that subdivides the temperature range into fields of 1.5 Kelvin each. Compensation values are calculated for each temperature field, which are fed into the analogue signal path during operations, depending on the current temperature in each case. Viewing this way, one could say that
these transmitters always operate at calibration temperature. A high degree of vertical integration, a modular design and programmable
electronics enable high-volume, customer-specific production.

The 21Y series also stands out through its exceptional resistance against electromagnetic fields. The units display values that fall below the limits of the CE standard by as much as a factor of 10 in the case of conducted and radiated fields. The transmitters are also highly immune to external voltages between the housing and the electrical connection, which is particularly important when used with frequency converters. A high insulation voltage of 300 V also makes this device ideal for use in the roughest environment

Additional Reading?

Request Free Copy