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ie Use o':ie cone oene:rome:er

:oce:er--ine:ie o as:ic i--i:o'soi s

by D. M. WOOD, MA, PhD aftd C. P. WROTH, MA, PhD, MICE"

LITTLETON AND FARMILO (1977) have change of water content which produces index is found to be 52% compared with
contributed an interesting article concern- a hundred-fold change of strength. Then a value of 54% obtained when the plastic
ing the use of cone penetrometers to deter- from equation (3) limit was determined by the standard
mine the liquid limit of soils. Their analy- method.
sis of the mechanics of the penetration A=PI/2 (4) It is suggested that a redefinition of
of the cone has some similarities with plasticity index in this way would pro-
that of Hansbo (1957) who reported a In defining the Plasticity Index thus it is vide engineers with a more useful indica-
very thorough study of the fall-cone test recognised that it is particularly the tion of the properties of the soil; and that
though he was primarily interested in strength of soils in which engineers are the use of the cone penetrometer to
using the cone to determine shear interested. It would be logical to use the determine both the liquid and plastic limit
strength, cone penetrometer, a strength test, to would be a rational change to make.
Studies (for example, Casagrande, 1958; determine the plastic limit as well as the
Norman, 1958; Youssef et al, 1965; Wroth liquid limit.
and Wood, 1977) have shown that it is Equation (2) shows that we would BS 1377 (1975): Methods of test for soils for civil
reasonable to assume that soil can be need to use a cone of weight Bkgf in order engineering purposes. British Standards Institu-
assigned a unique strengt'h at the liquid to be able to do this directly. However,
limit Wood and Wroth (1976) suggested we can also use equation (2) to deter-
the liquid
A. (1958): "Notes on the design of
limit device". Geotechnique 8 2, 84-91.
George, P. J. Er Wood, D. M. (eds.) (1976):
from the available evidence that a strength mine the plastic limit indirectly. For a Offshore soil mechanics. Lloyd's Register of Ship-
of 1.7kN/ms was satisfactory. In fact, if given cone, and a given soil, combining ping and Cambridge University Engineering Depart-
the definition of the liquid limit given in equations (1) and (3) shows that: Hansbo, S. (1957): "A new approach to the
BS 1377: 1975 is accepted (the water determination of the shear strength of clay by
content at which a 30 cone of weight w 2A logtn d = constant ... (5) the fall-cone test". Royal Swedish Geotechnical
Institute, Proceedings No. 14.
80gf, released from the surface, will pene- Lirrleron, I. 8t Farmilo, M. (1977): "Some obser-
We can perform series of tests with two vations on liquid limit values with reference to
trate 20mm) then it can be shown that penetration and Casagrande tests''. Ground En-
this strength is consistent with the infor- different cone weights (W, and W,) and gineering 10 4, 39-40. (May).
Norman, L. E. J, (1958): "A comparison of values
mation tabulated by Hansbo. plot the data as w vs logd. The separa- of liquid limit determined with apparatus having
The central relationship, derived by tion in terms of water content is then bases of different hardness". Geotechnique 8 2,
Hansbo, but also obtainable (neglecting Schofield. A. N. Er Wroth, C. P. (1968): Critical
rate effects) by dimensional analysis >=A logtn (Wt/W ) . (6) State Soil Mechanics. McGraw-Hill, London, pp
(Wroth and Wood, 1977) is that for geo- Skempron, A. W. Er Northey, R. D. (1953): "The
metrically similar cones: and the plasticity index, from equation sensitivity of clays". Geotechnique 3 1, 30-53.

= constant ...... (1)
Pl =

logtn (W,/W.,)
Wood, D.
relation of
M. & Wrorh, C.P. (1976): "The cor-
some basic engineering
shore Structures, Trondheim, 1 441-445.
prtrperties of
soils". Proc. Int. Conf. on Behaviour of Off-
Wroth, C. P. 8 Wood, D. M. (1978); "The corre-
lation of index properties with some basic en-
where cu is the undrained shear strength gineenng properties of so>ls''. To appear in Can-
of the soil and d is the penetration of a Results of cone tests with W,/Ws = 3 adian Geotechnical Journal, May.
youssef, M. S., el Ramli, A. H. 8 el Demery. M.
cone of weight W. It may be reasonably are given by George and Wood (1976) (1965): Relationships between shear strength,
and reproduced in Fig. 1 for Cambridge consolidation, liquid limit, and plastic limit for
argued that if cones of different weights remoulded clays". Proc. 6th Int. Conf. Soil
W produce the same penetration d in Gault clay. From these data the plasticity Macha., Montreal 1 126-129
specimens of the same soil at different
water contents then the putative rate
effects have less significance, and the
shear strength of the soil is proportional
Liauid Limit
to the cone weight
ccc W (d constant) ...... (2) BS1377(1975) test 2(a
(Hansbo the motion of the cone
and showed peak penetration
his results
rates of about 0.5m/s so it is not unlikely
that there are in reality rate effects asso-
ciated with this test.)
Evidence produced by Skempton and
Northey (1953) suggests that the shear C
strength of soil at the plastic limit (as
conventionally defined as the water con- C
tent at which a thread of soil will crum- 0
ble) is about a hundred times that at the 0.5-
liquid limit. Ideas of critical state soil
mechanics (Schofield and Wroth, 1968)
indicate that there is a direct relationship
between water content (w) and shear

w + A log,c= constant (3)

where A is a constant.
04- 0
This points the way towards a rede-
finition of the plasticity index as that 2 5 10 20 50
cone penetration d mm
'Both authors are with Cambridge University
Engineering Department Fig 1. Results of cone penetrometer tests on Cambridge Gault clay
April, 1978 37