Living in Earthquake Country (6-12)
Lesson 6: Landslides, Liquefaction, and Structural Failure

Landslides, Liquefaction, and Structural Failure

This lesson consists of three activities. Students will use both online and hands-on activities to become familiar with landslides, liquefaction, and structural failure caused by earthquakes.

Concepts and learning outcomes

The students will understand that:

  • Shaking may result in damage in the form of structural failure, liquefaction, and landslides.
  • In addition they will understand why certain areas and structures are more prone to damage than others.

Time requirements

Four 50-minute classes


Liquefaction, landslide, structural failure

Background for teachers

Excellent information about liquefaction is available at the Soil Liquefaction web site

The Geotimes article, Landslides: Risky Business discusses earthquake-induced landslides.

This website describes landslides and other slope failures that occurred in Niigata Prefecture, Japan: Slope failures triggered by the 23 October 2004 earthquakes in Niigata Prefecture, Japan )


1. Shaking and Landslides: Through a hands-on activity, students model the relationship between shaking and landslides.
2. Earthquakes and Liquefaction: Through a hands-on activity, students determine the factors that cause liquefaction.
3. Earthquakes and Structural Failure:
Students use a computer simulation to determine the best bridge structure to withstand earthquakes of varying magnitudes.

Resources used