Metastable loessic brickearth comprises a stiff fabric structure with inter-particle interactions different to those normally associated with clay-sized or silt-sized particle fabrics. Laboratory samples loaded near in situ moisture contents exhibited little consolidation and relatively high shear wave velocities, which changed in response to sample flooding. In situ hydro-collapse caused non-monotonic changes in the velocity of shear waves through loessic brickearth that was subjected to simple flooding and to flooding while under additional surface loading. Hydro-collapse in situ resulted in an overall reduction of up to 50% in the shear wave velocity. A conceptual model of brickearth structure based on SEM images is presented to explain the process of collapse and its effect on shear wave velocity. These indicate a transition from a relatively low-density, high-stiffness fabric to the higher-density, lower-stiffness fabric during structural collapse of the loessic brickearth. The collapse process disrupts clay bridge-bonds that hold individual and aggregated clay-coated silt sized particles in an open packed structure, and which are absent in a more closely packed collapsed structure. These studies provide information for geohazard research and the development of shear wave velocity and other geophysical tools to assess soil collapse potential in situ.

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