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CE 43A - SOIL MECHANICS

EXPERIMENT NO. 5

SHRINKAGE LIMIT

Date of work: September 6, 2012


Date of Submission of report: September 20, 2012
Submitted by: (Group 7)
Danica Grace B. Gumahad
John M. Jorolan
Jan Rowin Saycon
Objective of the Project:
To obtain the moisture content below which no further volume change of soil
mass occurs and to obtain a quantitative indication of the amount of volume change
which can occur.

Equipment:
Shrinkage dish
Glass plates with three prongs
Mercury
Oven
Balance sensitive 0.1g
Volume dish and a flat strike-off plate

Discussion of Work:
Soils which undergo large volume changes with change in water content may be
troublesome if used for highway or railroad fills or if structural foundations are placed on
them. The soil volume changes can result in bumps in roads and cracks in structures
since the volume changes may not, and usually will not, be equal.
The liquid and plastic limits may be used to predict potential trouble in soils due
to volume changes. However, to obtain a quantitative indication of how much change in
moisture can occur before any appreciable volume change occurs and to obtain, if
volume change does occur, an indication of the amount of change, a shrinkage-limit test
should be performed.
The test begins with a given volume of fully saturated soil at a water content
above the liquid limit. The soil is then dried. It is assumed during drying that down to a
certain limiting value of water content, any loss of water is accompanied by a
corresponding change in bulk volume or ratio. Below this limiting value of water content,
no further change in volume occurs with loss of pore water. This limiting value of water
content is termed the shrinkage limit.
Physically, this means that any moisture changes below the shrinkage limit do
not cause soil volume changes. Above the shrinkage limit, volume changes will occur
with change in water content. This volume change can be expressed in terms of void
ratio and water content.
Shrinkage limit can also be viewed as water content to saturate to 100 percent
degree of saturation a soil that has been dried to a volume that does not reduce
anymore. Thus, the experiment is started with fully saturated soil condition and it is
assumed that the soil remains saturated until at shrinkage limit. The water content at
shrinkage limit is then computed as

ws = wi dw
where wi is the initial water content and dw is the change in water content from initial
condition to shrinkage limit.

The change in water content can be obtained as

dw = dV x density of water x 100


mass of dry soil

where dV is the change in volume from initial condition to shrinkage limit. Letting
ms as the mass of dry soil in grams and volume is in cubic centimeters, the density of
water is 1.0 gram/cc. the change in moisture content is then

dW = dV x 1.0 x 100 = VI Vf x 100


ms ms

The shrinkage limit is then obtained from the formula

ws = wi (Vi - Vf) x 100


ms

where Vi is intial volume and Vf is the final volume of the soil.

Procedure:
(WARNING: AVOID DIRECT SKIN CONTACT WITH MERCURY AS IT IS A HARMFUL
SUBSTANCE)

1. Take about 40g of soil passing No. 40 sieve and carefully mix the tap water to
make a creamy paste that can be placed in the shrinkage dish without any air
voids. The soil consistency should be obtained using water content somewhat
above the liquid limit.
2. Lightly coat the inside if the shrinkage dish with petroleum jelly or silicone grease
to prevent the soil from sticking to the dish and forming cracks upon drying.
Weigh the dish and record the weight.
3. Fill the dish in three layers by placing approximately one-third of the amount of
wet soil to fill the dish and tapping it gently on a firm base until the soil flows over
the dish and no apparent air bubbles exist. Repeat with the second and third
layers. Strike the dish off smooth using a medium size spatula, and weigh the
dish and wet soil.
4. For about 6 to 8 hours, air-dry the wet soil until the surface changes to a light
color. Then oven-dry the dish of soil for about 12 to 18 hours. Remove the dried
dish of soil from the oven and obtain the weight of the dish + dry soil.
5. Find the volume of the shrinkage dish in cubic centimeters. This is done by filling
the dish to slightly overflowing with mercury. Press a flat glass plate down on the
mercury surface to remove excess amount. Weigh the dish + mercury and
compute the mass of mercury in the dish. The volume of the dish, which is also
the volume of mercury in the dish, is

Vdish = mass of mercury to fill dish


13.53
The initial volume or wet volume of soil VI is equal to Vdish.
6. Determine the volume of the dry soil cake Vf by first filling the glass cup of the
shrinkage limit set which has been placed in a flat large container or cardboard to
catch any mercury spill. Next take the glass plate and press of any excess
mercury into the overflow container. Weigh the glass cup filled with mercury.
7. With the glass cup still in the large flat container, place the dry soil cake on the
surface of the mercury. Now take the cover plate with 3 prongs, place the prongs
on the soil cake, press it down to remove excess mercury until the cover plate
completely touches the rim of the glass cup. Remove the cover plate and the soil
cake, and weigh the glass cup + remaining mercury. The difference of this weight
and the weight of the glass cup full of mercury obtained in step 6 is the weight of
mercury displaced by the soil cake. The volume of soil cake is now obtained from
the formula.

Vf = mass of displaced mercury


13.53

Where mass is in grams and Vf is in cubic centimeters.

8. Compute the shrinkage limit using the formula derived in the discussion.

Experimental Data and Results:

Mass of coated dish + wet soil = ____________________

Mass of coated dish + dry soil = ____________________

Mass of coated dish = ____________________

Mass of dry soil, ms = ____________________


Mass of water in wet soil, mw = ____________________

Initial water content, wi = (mw / ms) x 100 = ____________________

Mass of shrinkage dish = ____________________

Mass of shrinkage dish full of mercury = ____________________

Mass of mercury to fill dish, m1 = ____________________

Volume of wet soil, Vi = m1 / 13.53 = ____________________

Mass of glass cup = ____________________

Mass of glass cup full of mercury = ____________________

Mass of glass cup + mercury after soil

Cake was submerged = ____________________

Mass of mercury displaced by soil cake, m2 = ____________________

Volume of dry soil, Vf = m2 / 13.53 = ____________________

Shrinkage Limit = wi (Vi Vf) x 100 = ____________________


ms