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Faculty of Civil Engineering Institute of Geotechnical Engineering

Laboratory testing of soils


Soil Classifications

Recommended books & weblinks

1. Liu, C., Evett, J.B., 2004. Soils and Foundations (Sixth Edition).
Prentice Hall.

2. Craig, R.F., 1992. Soil Mechanics. Chapman & Hall.

3. Simons, N., Menzies, B., Matthews, M., 2002. A short course in


geotechnical site investigation. Thomas Telford.

4. Budhu, M., 2000. Soil Mechanics & Foundations. John Wiley &
Sons.

5. Atkinson, J., 1993. An introduction to the mechanics of soil and


foundation. McGraw-Hill.

6. Bowles, J.E., 1988. Foundation Analysis and Design. McGraw-Hill.


7. A. Verruijt: Soil Mechanics
http://geo.verruijt.net/software/SoilMechBook.ZIP

8. http://www.uic.edu/classes/cemm/cemmlab/
Soil Mechanics Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago

9. http://www.usbr.gov/pmts/writing/earth/index.html
Earth manual, US Bureau of Reclamation

10. http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-manuals/
USACE manuals (US Army Corps of Engineers)

11. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/geopub.htm
FHWA manuals (Federal Highway Administration)

Descriptive (index) properties

Nature of grains
grain size, grain size distribution, surface, shape, mineralogy, specific
gravity

Current state
water content, unit weight, porosity (void ratio), degree of
saturation, stress

Structure/Fabric
layering, bedding, fissuring, joints, cementing (scale-dependent!)
; various classifications
Sand grains

Loam
Clay

Grains
Grain size distribution
Sieve sizes
Grain size distribution

Grading

Coefficient of uniformity: Cu = d60/d10


Coefficient of curvature: Cc = (d30)2/(d60d10)
AASHTO classification

(AASHTO=American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)

Grading, Shape and Surface


Grain unit weight γs

G = Vw γw + Vsγs = (V − Vs)γw + Vsγs


; Vs = V − (G − Gs)/γw and γs = Gs/Vs

3-Phase composition
Soil unit weight γ
G
unit weight: γ =
V

G . . . soil weight (G = M · g)
V . . . soil volume (from a calibrated cylinder/sampler)

Reference configuration (voids)


porosity void ratio
n

voids
V=1

1−n

V s =1

solids
Porosity, void ratio

porosity n:

Vv
n=
V

void ratio e:
Vv
e=
Vs

n e
V = Vv + Vs ; e= or n= resp.
1−n 1+e

Dry unit weight

Dry unit weight γd = Gs/V

From γs and n = (V − Vs)/V = (V − Gs/γs)/V follows

γd γs
n=1− or e= − 1 resp
γs γd

3
Sand: γs ≈ 26.0 kN/m ( % = 2.65 g/cm3)
3
Clay: γs ≈ 26.5 ± 2.0 kN/m
Water content
w = Mw /Ms

Maximum water content

Ratio of masses of water and grains:

Gw Gw
w= =
Gd Gs

unit weight: γ = γd(1 + w)

maximum water content wmax:

From Gw = γw Vv = γw nV and Gd = γsVs = γs(1 − n)V


γw n γw
; wmax = Gw /Gd = e =
γs 1 − n γs
Water saturation

Degree of saturation / Saturation ratio:

w Vw 1 − n γs
S= = =w
wmax Vv n γw

Weight γr of (with water) fully saturated soil:

γr = γd(1 + wmax) = γd + nγw

Typical values
γd
Soil n e wmax
[kN/m3]
soft clay 12 0.54 1.17 0.45
stiff clay 17 0.35 0.53 0.20
silt 16 – 19 0.25 – 0.38 0.35 – 0.62 0.14 – 0.24
loose sand 14 0.46 0.86 0.33
dense sand 19 0.27 0.37 0.14
gravel 16 – 19 0.27 – 0.38 0.37 – 0.62 0.14 – 0.24
(after Kolymbas, 1998)
Density Limits

loose versus dense

Density Limits

maximum density (ρmax or emin)


vibrated and heavily loaded sample

minimum density (ρmin or emax)


very loosely poured sample
Only coarse grained soils!
Plasticity (Atterberg limits)
Fine grained soils are sensitive to water content!
PL: Plastic Limit (wp)
soil ceases to behave plastic and becomes brittle

LL: Liquid Limit (wl)


soil starts to flow like a liquid

PI: Plasticity Index


PI = LL – PL

Plastic limit
rolling threads of 3 mm diameter (rolling ; drying/densification)
Liquid limit
Fall cone test

Remarks to Atterberg limits

wl, wp . . . water contents, at which the soil has a certain strength

τ (wp)/τ (wl) ≈ 100

undrained shear strength at consistency limits:


cu(wl) = 1.5 kPa, cu(wp) ≈ 150 kPa

good correlations to compressibility (Cc from PI) and to undrained


shear strength (cu from w)
Plasticity chart USCS

German Standard DIN 18196

description symbol wL
small plasticity L < 0.35
medium plasticity M 0.35 − 0.50
high plasticity A > 0.50
Unified Classification System
USCS classification

(USCS=Unified Soil Classification System)


German standard DIN 18196
Soil state — liquidity

IL: liquidity index

w − wp w − wp
IL = =
wl − wp IP

IL: consistency index

wl − w wl − w
Ic = = = 1 − IL
wl − wp IP

IL : < 0 (0,1) >1


Ic : > 1 (0,1) <0
state: solid plastic liquid
Soil state — density

ID : density index (relative density)

emax − e
ID =
emax − emin

ID : (%) 0–15 15–35 35–65 65-85 85–100


state: very lose lose medium dense very dense

Soil state — rapid assessment

sand particles (d > 0.06 mm) — visible to the naked eye

silt (0.002 mm < d < 0.06 mm) — feel abrasive between fingers
(but not gritty)

clay (d < 0.002 mm) — feel greasy

plasticity — moulding without cracking possible

dry strength (piece of soil about 6 mm thick): silts ; crumbling


easy between the fingers

toughness test — rolling of threads on the palm of the hand (3 mm


diameter): silts ; weak threads, which breake and crumble
Soil consistency — rapid assessment

moulding in the hand:


very soft — if it exudes between fingers

soft — if it is very easy to mould and it sticks to the hand

firm — if it moulds easily with moderate pressure

very firm — if it moulds only with considerable pressure

hard — if it will not mould under pressure in the hand

Compaction: Proctor test

Compaction energy
3 layers á 25 hits

Ram mass: 2,5 kg

Fall height: 30 cm
Modified Proctor test
4.5-times compaction energy
Optimum water content

Compaction quality (measured by γd)


→ depends on water content w

Modified Proctor test


GU
typische
GW
Proctorkurven

SW

SU

GE
SE TL

TM

TA