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The term quick clay has been used to denote the behaviour of highly sensitive Quaternary marine clays that, due to post depositional processes, have the tendency to change from a relatively stiff condition to a liquid mass when disturbed. On failure these marine clays can rapidly mobilise into high velocity flow slides and spreads often completely liquefying in the process. For a clay to be defined as potentially behaving as a quick clay in terms of its geotechnical parameters it must have a sensitivity (the ratio of undisturbed to remoulded shear strength) of greater than 30 together with a remoulded shear strength of less than 0.5 kPa. The presence of quick clays in the UK is unclear, but the Quaternary history of the British islands suggests that the precursor conditions for their formation could be present and should be considered when undertaking construction in the coastal zone.

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