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CE 412

Geotechnical Engineering 1

Laboratory Report No. 5: Moisture Content Test

Lab Date: September 05, 2017

Report Date: September 12, 2017

T.A.: Engr. Cristina Amor M. Rosales

Lab Group: Group 5

Lab Partners: Agbing, Arielle Joyce F.

Barro, Nikko Adrian

Ebora, Joseph Kevin

Dimaano, John Michael

Paygane, Kimberly

Pineda, Raymond Lester.


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Abstract

Water content or moisture content is the amount of water present in a material, such

as soil also known as soil moisture, rock, ceramics, crops, or wood. Moisture content test is done

to determine the water content present in the soil sample used. Determining the soil’s moisture

may help in identifying the nature of the soil used in the experiment. Chunk of undisturbed soil

sample is used in the test. Three trials were performed in determining the soil moisture content

test with different mass and different water content.

The soil samples used in performing the experiment is from Kumintang Ilaya, Batangas

City. When the soil is already dug up, it is immediately covered with the melted paraffin wax to

keep the soil’s moisture. Three tests were performed from the soil chunks that are chopped off

from the whole undisturbed soil sample. Oven drying method is used in performing the moisture

content test. It took 3 hours and 40 minutes to completely dry the specimens.
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Table of Contents

1. Abstract……………………………………………………………………………....……ii

2. Table of Contents………………………………………………………………….…..….iii

3. List of Tables………………………………………………………………………….….iv

4. Objective..………………………………………………………………………………....1

5. Theoretical Background……………………………………………………………......….1

6. Materials and Equipment……………………………………………………………....….2

7. Experimental Procedure…………………………………………………...…………....…2

8. Analysis of Data……………………………………………………………………...……3

9. Discussion of Results…………………………………………………………………..….5

10. Summary…………………………………………………………………………….….…6

11. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………….….….6

12. Recommendations…………………………………………………………………….…..6

13. Additional Questions………………………………………...………………………..…..7

14. References……………………………………………………………………....……..….9

15. Appendix A…………………………………………………………………..…………10


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List of Tables

1. Table 5 – 1. Minimum Size of Moist Soil Samples to Determine Water Content…..........2

2. Table 5 - 2 Time Table of Drying Soil Sample……………………………………….......3

3. Table 5 - 3 Moisture Content Test Result…………………………………………........…4


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Objective

The purpose of performing this experiment is to determine the moisture content of soil by

oven drying method.

Theoretical Background

Water content is the quantity of water contained in a material, such as soil (called soil

moisture). This is used in a wide range of scientific and technical areas, and is expressed as a

ratio, which can range from 0 (completely dry) to the value of the materials' porosity at

saturation. Soils normally contain a finite amount of water, which can be expressed as the “soil

moisture content.” This moisture exists within the pore spaces in between soil aggregates (inter-

aggregate pore space) and within soil aggregates (intra-aggregate pore space). Normally this pore

space is occupied by air and/or water. If all the pores are occupied by air, the soil is completely

dry. If all the pores are filled with water, the soil is said to be saturated.

Soil moisture is a key variable in controlling the exchange of water and heat energy

between the land surface and the atmosphere through evaporation and plant transpiration. As a

result, soil moisture plays an important role in the development of weather patterns and the

production of precipitation.

To compute for the moisture content, the formula below will be used.

( )

Water content is usually expressed in percent.


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For better results, the minimum size of the moist soil specimen should be approximately

as given in Table 5 – 1. These values are consistent with ASTM Test Designation D – 2216.

Table 5 – 1 Minimum Size of Moist Soil Samples to Determine Water Content

Maximum Particle Size in Minimum Mass of Soil


U.S Sieve No.
the Soil (mm) Sample (g)

0.425 40 20

2.0 10 50

4.75 4 100

9.5 3/8 in 500

19.0 3/4 in 2500

Materials and Equipment

Oven, Digital Weighing Scale, Drying Pans

Experimental Procedure

To perform the experiment, the materials needed must be prepared. From the chunk of

the undisturbed soil, chop off a smaller chunk weighing 15-30 grams. After getting the sample

needed, pulverize the soil into smaller particles. When it is pulverized enough, place it in the pan

and insert in the oven for drying. Check the soil sample and weigh it from time to time to check

if its weight changes. If the weight is already constant, the soil is considered to be completely

dry.
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Analysis of Data

Three trials were performed with different mass of soil, written on the list is the time

interval of drying the soil samples.

Table 5 - 2 Time Table of Drying Soil Sample

Time Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3

12:00 pm 44.0 48.9 52.0

12:20 pm 42.1 47.0 50.0

12:35 pm 41.2 46.1 48.9

12:50 pm 40.2 45.0 47.7

13:45 pm 38.7 43.1 45.4

14:25 pm 38.7 42.9 45.0

15:00 pm - 40.0 45.0

15:40 pm - 40.0 -

The final and computed values are listed on table 5-3.

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Table 5 - 3 Moisture Content Test Result

TEST NO.
ITEM
1 2 3

Can No. 1 2 3

Mass of can, W1 (g)


19.8 g 19.7 g 20.0 g

Mass of can + wet


soil,W2 (g) 44.0 g 48.9 g 52.0 g

Mass of can + dry


soil,W3 (g) 38.7 g 40.0 g 45.0 g

Mass of moisture, W2-


W3 (g) 5.3 g 8.9 g 7.0 g

Mass of dry soil, W3-


W1 (g) 18.9 g 20.3 g 25.0 g

Moisture content,
28.04 % 43.84 % 28.00 %

Average moisture content: 33.29 %


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Discussion of Results

It takes time before the experiment is done to get the moisture content of the samples.

The results obtain are presented through tables. Even if the soil chunks were from the same

undisturbed soil, it shows different results given that it also has different mass and different time

of drying. The results are obtained by using the formula for getting the soil’s moisture content.

The soil samples are weighed from time to time to determine if it is dried already and computed

afterwards.

The mass of each container were obtained by weighing them individually. Can no. 1 is

19.8 g, for can no.2 the mass is 19.7 g and 20.0 for can no.3. As for the mass of the containers

with wet soil, the individual masses were obtained by weighing the container containing the

representative undisturbed soil sample. Can no. 1 is 44.0 g, can no. 2 is 48.9 g and 52 g for can

no. 3. The mass of containers with dry soil were obtained by weighing the containers containing

the soil sample after the change in mass becomes constant. So, for the can no.1 the mass is 18.9

g, 20.3 for can no. 2 and 25.0 for can no.3.The mass of moisture was obtained by subtracting the

mass of the containers containing wet soil by mass of the containers containing the dry soil. The

mass of can no. 1 is 5.3 g, 8.9 g for can no.2 and 7.0 g for can no.3. Substituting the values to the

formula, the group obtained the moisture content of the soil samples. For can no. 1 the moisture

content is 28.04%, 43.84% and 28.00% for can no. 2 and 3 respectively. The average moisture

content of the three tests is 33.29%. The drying time for test 1 was 1 hour and 40 minutes, for

test 2 the time was 3 hours and 40 minutes and 2 hours and 25 minutes for test 3.
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Summary

To sum up the experiment, the undisturbed soil sample from Kumintang Ilaya, Batangas

City used in the experiment has an average moisture content of 33.29% after performing three

tests. The samples were weighed when it is still wet, placed in the oven for hours and weighed

again when it is completely dried. When all the necessary data are gathered, the moisture content

is computed that resulted to the moisture content of 33.29%.

Conclusion

The sample used did not dry within the same time. Sample 1 dried faster than the

samples 2 and 3. It dries up within 1 hour and 45 minutes and has a moisture content of 28.04%.

Sample 2 dries up within 3 hours. It has the highest moisture content recorded which is 43.84%

and also has the longest time of drying. Sample 3 have the highest recorded mass but has the

lowest moisture content recorded of 28.00%. It dries up within 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Concluding based on the experiment results, the soil chunk of undisturbed sample does

not have the same moisture content all throughout because some parts are partially dry while the

other parts have more moisture present. The soil particles of the other parts may be loose that’s

why air can pass through the spaces and can cause of partially drying that certain part of the soil

while the other part is more compact that results to preservation of its moisture.

Recommendations

The group recommends spending more time in drying the soil sample to ensure that the

water content in a sample will completely desiccate. The soil sample should be fully covered
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with melted paraffin wax or cling wrap to preserve its moisture content. The representative soil

sample to be used must be cultivated before sunrise.

Additional Questions

1. Why is the water content measured using undisturbed soil sample?

Answer: Undisturbed soil samples keep the structural integrity of the in-situ soil and they have a

higher recovery rate in the sampler. It’s actually tough to gather a perfect undisturbed sample and

the samplers may contain a small portion of undisturbed soil at the top as well as the bottom of

the sample length. Undisturbed samples allow the engineer to identify the properties of strength,

permeability, compressibility, as well as the fracture patterns among others. Usually, the results

of these analyses help many geotechnical engineering firms in terms of designing a new

building.

2. Where do we need to identify/ measure water content?

Answer: It is done determine soil moisture for activities related to soil. For example, if fields

have enough soil moisture for wheat planting, in-field sampling will be required.

3. How would you determine if the soil is completely dry?

Answer: Using different methods of drying the soil sample, you can check the soil if it is already

dry by weighing the mass of the soil sample and it reached its constant weight.
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4. Compare the physical result of water content of soil using oven drying method

(undisturbed) and sun/air drying (disturbed soil).

Answer: The texture of both soil samples after drying is still granular. It also has the same color.

The soil particles retain its size after drying. The sample’s appearance does not change after

drying. The only difference is their drying time but the sample, both disturbed and undisturbed

have the same look, texture, and color.

References:

https://www.jove.com/science-education/10011/determination-of-moisture-content-in-soil

https://geotechengineeringsoftware.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/geotechnical-engineering-the-

difference-of-disturbed-and-undisturbed-soil-sampling/

http://extension.colostate.edu/disaster-web-sites/drought-resources/drought-related-tip-

sheets/measurement-of-soil-moisture/

http://site.iugaza.edu.ps/dsafi/files/2015/02/Soil-Laboratory-Manual-Das.pdf
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Appendix A

(Documentation)

Soil was being chopped off to get samples.

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Pans are weighed to get the mass of each pan.


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Soil samples needed for the experiment crushed into smaller particles.

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Wet soil samples are weighed.

Soil samples are placed in the oven for drying.


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These were the following pictures that were taken from time to time

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Mass of each sample as of 12:20

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Mass of each sample as of 12:35

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Mass of each sample as of 12:50


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TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Mass of each sample as of 13:45

TEST 1 TEST 2 TEST 3

Final mass of sample 1 and mass of sample 2 and 3 as of 14:25


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TEST 2 TEST 3

Mass of sample 2 and final mass of sample 3 as of 15:00

TEST 2

Final mass of sample 2 as of 15:40


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