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Applications Guide - CPT 10

Equivalent SPT Nso Profiles

The Standard Penetration Test (SPT) is one Clay Clayey silts Sandy silt Silty sand Sand
of the most commonly used in-situ tests in 10 & si cia & sHt

many parts of the world, especially North Data from 18 sites

America. However, despite continued
efforts to standardize the SPT procedure and
equipment there are still problems associated
with its repeatability and reliability.
However, many geotechnical engineers have 2
developed considerable experience with
design methods based on local SPT 0.001 0.01 0.1
correlations. When these engineers are first Mean particle size D50(mm)
introduced to the CPT they initially prefer to
see CPT results in the form of equivalent Figure 4. CPT-SPT correlations with mean grain
size (after Robertson et al., 1983).
SPT N values. Hence, there is a need for
reliable CPT/SPT correlations so that CPT
data can be used in existing SPT-based The values of N used by Robertson et al.
design approaches. correspond to an average energy ratio of
about 60%. Hence, the ratio applies to N6o,
There are many factors affecting the SPT as shown on Figure 4. Other studies have
results, such as, borehole preparation and linked the ratio between the CPT and SPT
size, sampler details, rod length and energy with fines content for sandy soils.
efficiency of the hammer-anvil-operator
system. The most significant factor is the, The above correlations need the soil grain
energy efficiency of the SPT system. This is size information to determine the mean grain
normally expressed in terms of the rod size (or fines content). Grain characteristics
energy ratio (ERr). An energy ratio of about can be estimated directly from CPT results
60% has generally been accepted as the using soil classification or soil behaviour type
reference value which represents the charts). The CPT classification charts show
approximate historical average SPT energy. a clear trend of increasing friction ratio with
increasing fines content and decreasing grain
A number of studies have been presented size. Robertson et al. (1986) suggested
over the years to relate the SPT N value to ( qclpa)IN6o ratios for each soil behaviour type
the CPT cone penetration resistance, qc. zone using the non-normalized CPT chart.
Robertson et al. (1983) reviewed these The suggested ratios for each soil behaviour
correlations and presented the relationship type is given in Table 2.
shown in Figure 4 relating the ratio
(qjpa)/N6o with mean grain size, Dso These values provide a reasonable estimate
(varying between O.OOlmm to lmm). Values of SPT N 60 values from· CPT data. For
of qc are made dimensionless when dividing simplicity the above correlations are given in
by the atmospheric pressure pa in the same terms of qc. For fine grained soft soils the
units as qc. It is observed that the ratio correlations should be applied to total cone
increases with increasing grain size. resistance, qt.

P.K. Robertson
Applications Guide - CPT

Table 2. Suggested (q./p8 )/N6o ratios. Table 3. Boundaries of SBT i~ temts of lc

Zone Soil Behaviour Type (qJp.) Soil Behaviour Zone Soil Behaviour Type
Type, Index SBT
Nro Ie
1 sensitive fine grained 2 Ic < 1.31 7 Dense Sand to gravelly
2 organic soils - peats 1
1.31 <1.,<2.05 6 Sands - clean sand to
3 clay I silty sand
4 silty day to clay 1.5 2.05 < Ic < 2..60 5 Sand Mixtur-es - silty
5 clayey silt to silty clay 2 sand to sandy silt
6 sandy silt to clayey silt 2.5 2.60 < Ic < 2.95 4 Silt Mixtures - clayey
7 silty sand to sandy silt 3 silt to silty clay
8 sand to silty sand 4 2.95 < :r.. < 3.60 3 Clays
9 sand 5
10 dense sand to gravelly 6 Ic> 3.60 2 Or~anic soil- ~ts
11 very stiff fine grained 1 The soil behaviour type index, Ic, can be
combined with the CPT-SPT ratios given in
Figure 4 to give the following relationship:
One disadvantage of this simplified approach
is the somewhat discontinuous nature of the
conversion. Often a soil will have CPT data (qJp.)
N 60
= 8.5 (1- _1_)
that crosses different soil behaviour type
zones and hence produces discontinuous
small changes in predicted SPT N6o values. Jefferies and Davies (1993) suggested that
the above approach can provide a better
Jefferies and Davies (1993) suggested the estimate of the SPT N values than the actual
application of a soil behaviour type index, L: SPT test due to the poor repeatability of the
to link with the CPT-SPT correlation. The SPT.
soil behaviour type (SBT) index, L: is the
radius of the essentially concentric circles References
that represent the boundaries between each Jefferies, M.G. and Davies, M.P. 1993.
SBT zone in the normalized CPT Estimation of SPT N values from the CPT,
classification chart proposed by Robertson ASTM.
(1990). L: can be defined as follows: Robertson, P.K. 1990. Soil classification
using the cone penetration test. Canadian
Ic = ((3.47 -log Qtf +(log Fr+ 1.22)2t 5 Geotechnical Journal, 27 (1): 151-8.
Robertson, P.K., Campanella, R.G. anD:/<'
where: Wightman, A 1983. SPT-CPT -.J..
Qt = the normalized cone penetration Correlations, ASCE J. of Geotechnical ,...
resistance, dimensionless (
Engineering 109(11): 1449-59.
Fr = the normalized friction ratio, in % Robertson, P.K., Campanella, R.G.,
Gillespie, D. and Greig, J. 1986. Use of
The boundaries of soil behaviour type are piezometer cone data. Proceedings of the
then given in terms of the index, Ic, as shown ASCE Specialty Conference In Situ '86:
in Table 3. The soil behaviour type index Use of In Situ Tests in Geotechnical
does not apply to zones I, 8 and 9. Engineering, Blacksburg, 1263-80.

P .K. Robertson 1998