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To obtain the relationship between water content and dry unit weight by using the standard
proctor compaction test.
To determine the maximum dry unit weight and optimum water content.

As described in Geotechnical Engineering, soil being a particulate medium contain pore spaces,
which may or may not be filled with water. When the soil which has high void ratio, subject to external
forces, the soil particles will be pushed to fill the voids spaces, as a results the soil will be subjected to
large deformations. Therefore, it is required to reduce the void spaces of partially saturated loose soil
deposits to improve strength, reduce compressibility and conductivity.
In the construction of highway embankments, earth dams, and many other engineering structures,
loose soils must be compacted to increase their unit weights. Compaction increases the strength
characteristics of soils, which increase the bearing capacity of foundations constructed over them.
Compaction also decreases the amount of undesirable settlement of structures and increases the stability
of slopes of embankments. Smooth- wheel rollers, sheepsfoot rollers, rubber-tired rollers, and vibratory
rollers are generally used in the eld for soil compaction. Vibratory rollers are used mostly for the
densication of granular soils. Vibroot devices are also used for compacting granular soil deposits to a
considerable depth.
Standard proctor compaction test is to establish a relationship between dry density and moisture
content for a soil under controlled conditions. R.R. Proctor (1933) was the first to develop a method of
assessing compacted fill that has since become a universal standard and the test is known as standard
proctor test. Standard proctor test is also known as light compaction test as per BIS. AASHO developed a
modified test to give a higher standard of compaction and is known as modified proctor test. The same is
also known as heavy compaction test as per BIS.
In the proctor compaction test, a soil sample is compacted into a standard mold shown in figure 4.
The total volume of the mold is 1000cm^3. Compaction of the soil is carried out using the standard
hammer shown in figure 4. The hammer has a 2.5kg ram, which can be lifted 300mm and dropped.

Compaction is the process of densification of soil by reducing air voids and the degree of compaction of a
soil is measured in terms of its dry unit weight.
Determination of the dry density and moisture content of a soil under given compaction effort can be
obtained from these equations shown below.

Bulk unit weight of the soil ( bulk)

bulk = (solid weight of soil inside the mold + moisture weight)/ volume of the mold
(Mass of the air within the voids of soil is neglected)

Dry unit weight of the soil ( dry)

dry = bulk / (1+ water content)

Water content = (Mass of water) / (dry mass of soil) %
Then the graph of the dry unit weight verses water content can be plotted. It gives a curve shown in
figure 1, and from that curve the maximum dry unit weight and optimum moisture content can be found.

Figure 1. Compaction curve

Figure 2. Zero air void line

If all the air of soil could be expelled by compaction, the soil would become fully saturated or
the soil is at zero air voids condition. Practically it is impossible to attain full saturation by compaction,
the line showing the relationship between dry density and water content at saturation is called zero air
void line or theoretical saturation line. Zero air void line is shown in figure 2.


Cylindrical metal mold, which is fitted with a detachable base plate and removable extension
collar (figure 4)
Metal rammer with 50mm diameter face, weighting 24.4KN, sliding freely in a tube that controls
the height of drop to 300mm
Sample extruder (jack) for removing compacted material from the mold
Metal tray
Balance sensitive to 0.1g and 0.01g
Drying oven with temperature ranges from 105C to 110C
Trowel or scope
Straight edge
No 4 sieve (4.75mm)
Water sprayer

Figure 3. Test Apparatus

Figure 4. Mold with Collar and Rammer


The compaction mold was set to the base plate without the removable collar and weighed.
Then the removable collar was attached.
Around 3kg representative specimen of the air dried soil sample was obtained and all the lumps
were broken.
The soil passed through no.4 sieve was collected to a tray.
Water was added to the soil and mixed thoroughly to get a homogeneous soil sample. The test
was started with a water content lower than the optimum.
The mold assembly was placed on the ground and soil was added to the mold so that it was about
half full.
The soil was compacted by applying 25 blows of the rammer dropping from the controlled height
of 300mm and ensured a uniform distribution of blows.
A second approximately equal layer of soil was placed in the mold and compacted it with 25
blows as before.
Procedure was repeated with a third layer, which should bring the compacted soil level in the
extension collar to about 6mm above the level of the mold body.
Extension collar was removed carefully. The excess soil was cut and leveled off to the top of the
mold. The small cavities resulting from the removal of stones were filled with fine materials.
Excess soil on the base plate was removed carefully using a brush and weighed
(Soil + mold + base plate).
The base was removed and the mold was set on the sample extruder, the sample was removed
from the mold.
Some amount of Soil was collected from top, middle and bottom to determine the water content.
Those Soil samples were put into the dry oven for water content determination.
The material in the tray was broken up and water was added to the soil with the sprayer. Then the
soil was mixed thoroughly.
The compaction process was kept repeating with increasing of the water content until five runs
had been made and soil became very wet and sticky.

Figure 5. Sequence of applying blows

Figure 6. Soil layers in the mold

Compaction of soil is an important process, as it helps it of achieve certain physical properties necessary
for its proper behavior under loading: for example proper compaction of an earthen dam or a highway
Embankment reduces the chances of its settlement, increases the shear strength of the soil due to its
increased density and reduces the permeability of the soil.
The proctor compaction test was carried out succefully and obtained a curve that satisfied the objectives.
Clearly identified the relationship between the dry density and the water content of a soil and reasons to
have that change was studied.


Compaction of soil-process-necessity-and-theory-of-compaction. Z.Khan

Available at: http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/geography/compaction-of-soil-processnecessity-and-theory-of-compaction/45567/
[Last accessed: 21th September 2016]

Proctor soil compaction

Available at: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/proctor-soil-compaction-test/
[Last accessed: 19th September 2016]

soil-compaction-test (2015)
Available at: http://www.vertekcpt.com/blog/soil-compaction-test-intro#.V-IJNPl97IU
[Last accessed: 18th September 2016]

BRAJA M. DAS. Principles of Geotechnical Engineering. Seventh Edition