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Polidori, E. (2003). Ge´otechnique 53, No. 4, 397–406

Proposal for a new plasticity chart

E. POLIDORI

This study investigates the consistency limits of the pure clay minerals kaolinite and montmorillonite, and their respective mixtures with fine silica sand in various pro- portions. Plotting the plasticity index data as a function of the liquid limit allows the zones where mixtures with the same clay contents fall to be defined. In particular, the line corresponding to 50% clay (designated as the 0·5C-line) makes it possible to distinguish the points that lie below the line, namely clay, from the points lying above the line in the silt zone. The clay zone includes inorganic soils with clay contents > 50%, whereas the silt zone includes inorganic soils composed of silt and/or sand (2–425 m) in percentages >50%. A new plasticity chart, which aims to classify soils (<425 m) using the Atter- berg limits, is defined herein. It differs from Casagran- de’s plasticity chart, especially in terms of its silt and clay zones, whose positions are reversed compared with Casagrande’s chart. This can be explained by the fact that, contrary to what is commonly believed, in inorganic soils—liquid limits being equal—the plasticity index in- creases as the clay content decreases. Save only a few exceptions, the examples of inorganic soils plotted on the new plasticity chart lie above the 0·5C-line in the silt zone or below the line in the clay zone when their clay contents are less or greater than 50% respectively. On Casagrande’s plasticity chart, the same soils lie above the A-line in the clay zone, regardless of their clay contents (9·7–100%). Only the kaolinite samples (relatively pure) lie below the A-line in the silt zone.

KEYWORDS: clays; laboratory tests; plasticity; soil classi- fication

Cette e´ tude cherche les limites de consistance de mine´ raux argileux purs, le kaolin et la montmorillonite, ainsi que de leurs me´ langes respectifs avec du sable siliceux fin dans diverses proportions. Le fait de tracer l’indice de plasticite´ comme fonction de la limite liquide permet de de´ finir les zones ou` les me´ langes ayant les meˆ mes teneurs en argile se situent. En particulier, la ligne correspondant a` 50% d’argile (de´ signe´ e comme la ligne 0,5 C) permet de dis- tinguer les points qui se trouvent sous la ligne, nomme´ - ment l’argile, des points qui se trouvent au-dessus dans la zone limon. La zone argile comprend des sols inorganiques avec une teneur argileuse e´ gale ou supe´ rieure a` > 50% alors que la zone limon comprend des sols inorganiques compose´ s de limon et/ou de sable (2–425 m) en pourcen- tages >50%. Nous de´ finissons ici un nouveau diagramme de plasticite´ dans le but de classifier les sols (<425 m) en utilisant les limites Atterberg. Ce diagramme diffe` re du diagramme de plasticite´ de Casagrande, surtout dans ses zones limoneuses et sableuses, dont les positions sont inverse´ es par rapport au diagramme de Casagrande. Ceci s’explique par le fait que, contrairement a` ce que l’on croit habituellement, dans les sols inorganiques toutes limites liquides e´ tant e´ gales - l’indice de plasticite´ augmente a`

`

mesure que la teneur en argile diminue. A part quelques exceptions, les exemples de sols inorganiques repre´ sente´ s

sur le nouveau diagramme de plasticite´ se trouvent au- dessus de la ligne 0,5C dans la zone limon ou en dessous de cette ligne dans la zone argile quand les teneurs en argile sont supe´ rieures ou infe´ rieures a` 50% respective- ment. Sur le diagramme de plasticite´ de Casagrande, les meˆ mes sols se trouvent au-dessus de la linge A dans la zone argile, quelle que soit leur teneur argileuse (9,7 a` 100%). Seuls les e´ chantillons de kaolin (relativement purs) se trouvent en dessous de la ligne A dans la zone limon.

INTRODUCTION The classification of soils makes it possible to characterise solid particles according to their size, shape and mineralogi- cal composition. Some classification methods are based on grain size distribution, and the separation limits among the various types can be distinguished on the basis of the standards adopted (ASTM, BS, etc.). Whereas these classifi- cation methods can be properly applied to coarse soils such as washed sands and gravel, for soils with a high percentage of fine materials the content and type of clay minerals present also take on great importance. The data that define the plasticity of soils (Atterberg, 1911) can be included on Casagrande’s (1932, 1948) plasticity chart, in which the plasticity index, I p , is plotted against the liquid limit, W L . This chart is divided into two zones separated by the A-line [I p ¼ 0 : 73(W L 20)], allowing us to distinguish the points that lie above the A-line (inorganic clays, C) from the points that lie below the line (silty soils, M). All the plasticity

Manuscript received 30 May 2002; revised manuscript accepted 5 December 2002. Discussion on this paper closes 1 November 2003; for further details see p. ii. Institute of Applied Geology, Urbino University, Italy.

397

charts reported by the various standards for classifying fine soils have this characteristic in common. The A-line was defined by Casagrande (1948) empirically on the basis of experimental evidence. According to the ASTM standard (D2482) (Figs 1 and 8), both inorganic and organic (O) silts and clays are classified as low (L) or high (H) plasticity according to whether their liquid limit value is lower or higher than 50% respectively. Finally, the low-plasticity silty clay group (CL-ML) is defined by plasticity index values between 4 and 7. This study was born out of the author’s need to answer the following questions:

(a)

Why do inorganic soils represented on Casagrande’s plasticity chart, with clay fractions (CF , 2 m) that are smaller than their silt and/or sand fractions (2–425 m), lie above the A-line in the clay zone?

(b)

Conversely, why does pure kaolinite lie below the A-line in the silt zone?

(c)

What is the significance of the distance of the points plotted on Casagrande’s plasticity chart from the A-line?

This investigation focuses on soils or the fraction of soils with particles ,425 m as reported by the standards (ASTM, BS, etc.) for determining the Atterberg limits.

I p : %

398

150

100

50

0

POLIDORI 100 (CF 50%) U-line Montmorillonite–sand mixtures (CF 50%) 90 (CF 50%) Kaolinite–sand mixtures
POLIDORI
100
(CF 50%)
U-line
Montmorillonite–sand mixtures
(CF 50%)
90
(CF 50%)
Kaolinite–sand mixtures
(CF 50%)
80
60 clay fraction (CF) % 2 µm
70 A-line
60
50 CH–OH
40
30
MH–OH
CL–OL
50
100
ML–OL
0
50
100
150
200

W L : %

Fig. 1. Location on Casagrande’s plasticity chart (ASTM standards) of pure kaolinite and montmorillonite clay samples and their respective mixtures with fine silica sand (based on data from Table 1). Values of pure clay minerals taken from Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz (1986). Values of their respective mixtures with sand calculated as reported by Seed et al. (1964b)

Regarding the classification of soils based on their particle size, the British Standard (BS 1322), for example, distin- guishes soil types according to the following criteria:

clay ¼ soil fraction with particles ,2 m; silt ¼ soil fraction with particles 2–60 m. Sand is defined here as the only fraction 60–425 m. It is known that a soil’s plasticity depends essentially on the type and quantity of clay minerals that are present. These clay minerals can be assessed pre- cisely only through mineralogical analysis. In routine assess- ments of soil properties, it is usually assumed that the fraction ,2 m (equivalent diameter) is composed entirely of clay minerals. In practice, a part of the fraction ,2 m can be composed of non-clayey particles. This should only result in an underestimation of the plasticity of the clay minerals that are present. Thus representing the Atterberg limits as a function of the clay content would change the slope but not the type of function (linear). For example, this is what occurs when representing the activity, A, of clay minerals (A ¼ I p divided by percentage ,2 m). Here atten- tion is directed to the two fractions with different beha- viours: the fraction composed of particles ,2 m (clay) and the fraction composed of non-clayey particles 2–425 m (silt and/or sand). In order to show the respective zones on the proposed plasticity chart, inorganic soils with CF > 50% are designated with the term reflecting their main component, clay (C). Inorganic soils, mainly composed of silt and/or sand (CF , 50%), are simply designated with the term silt (M).

DATA AND DISCUSSION This study investigates the consistency limits of two pure clay minerals of kaolinite and montmorillonite, whose prop- erties are reported in the literature (Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz, 1986), and their respective mixtures with fine silica sand in various proportions. Previous studies on the index properties of clay–silica sand mixtures (e.g. Seed et al., 1964b; Nagaraj et al., 1987; Tan et al., 1994; Kumar & Muir Wood, 1999) reached the conclusion that the liquid limit is propor-

tional to the percentage of clay (,2 m) for clay percen- tages that are not too low. The regression line on a graph of liquid limit against clay percentage passes through the origin of the axes. The same occurs for both the plastic limit, W p , and, as a consequence, for the plasticity index (Seed et al., 1964b). Seed et al. conclude that the linear correlation of the liquid and plastic limits with the clay content holds until the volume of the water–clay system becomes greater than the voids of the non-clay fraction in the mixtures. The values of the consistency limits of pure kaolinite and montmorillonite clay minerals (from Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz, 1986) are shown in Table 1 together with the values of their respective mixture with fine silica sand. The Atterberg limits of the mixtures with sand were calculated by the author on the basis of the data for pure minerals, assuming that, as reported by Seed et al. (1964b), the liquid and plastic limits are proportional to the clay contents, as follows:

W L ¼

and

W p ¼

C

100

C

100

W L c

W p c

where C is the percentage ,2 m, W L c is the liquid limit of the clay fraction only, and W p c is the plastic limit of the clay fraction only. The author has considered mixtures with a sand content ranging from 10% to a maximum value of

70%.

In Fig. 1, the data reported in Table 1 are plotted on Casagrande’s plasticity chart. Note that pure kaolinite lies in

the low-plasticity silt zone. All the plasticity index values of the montmorillonite mixtures lie in the high-plasticity clay zone near the U-line. The U-line shown in the ASTM standard should represent the upper limit for natural soils.

(U-line equation, vertical

(W L 8).) It can be maintained that the mixtures (Table 1)

composed chiefly of sand (.50%) also lie in the clay zone when they are plotted on Casagrande’s plasticity chart.

at W L ¼ 16 to I p ¼ 7, I p ¼ 0 : 9

A NEW PLASTICITY CHART

399

Table 1. Values of the consistency limits of pure kaolinite and montmorillonite clay minerals (from Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz, 1986). The values of their respective mixtures with fine silica sand, in various proportions, were calculated as reported by Seed et al.

(1964b)

Samples

Percentage ,2 m

Kaolinite W L : W p : I p : Montmorillonite W L : W
Kaolinite W L : W p : I p : Montmorillonite W L : W
Kaolinite
W
L :
W
p :
I
p :
Montmorillonite
W
L :
W
p :
%
10·5
I
p :
%
51·0
 

30

40

%

13·5

18·0

%

8·7

11·6

%

4·8

6·4

%

61·5

82·0

8·7 11·6 % 4·8 6·4 % 61·5 82·0 50 60 70 80 90 100 22·5 27·0

50

60

70

80

90

100

22·5

27·0

31·5

36·0

40·5

45

14·5

17·4

20·3

23·2

26·1

29

8·0

9·6

11·2

12·8

14·4

16

102·5

123·0

143·5

164·0

184·5

205

21·0

24·5

28·0

31·5

14·0

17·5

35

68·0

85·0

102·0

119·0

136·0

153·0

170

Analysing the data reported in Fig. 1, it can be concluded that, for montmorillonite, the value of the plasticity index corresponding to 100% CF constitutes an outer edge of the zone of the mixtures with high clay contents (>50%), and the point corresponding to the mixture with 50% clay marks the boundary between the zone of mixtures with a high clay content (CF > 50%) and the area of mainly sandy mixtures (CF , 50%). The same observation can be made regarding the kaolinite data. Connecting the kaolinite data points with the data points of montmorillonite containing the same percentage of clay, the zones where mixtures with the same CF lie are defined (Fig. 2). In particular, the lines corresponding to 100% and 50% CF, designated by the author as the C-line and the 0·5C-line respectively, define the zone of mixtures with CF > 50%. The zone of mainly sandy mixtures (CF , 50%) is found above the 0·5C-line. Note that the silt group (CF , 50%) is located above the clay group (CF > 50%). A mixture with higher silt and/or sand contents, with the same liquid limit, shows an even higher plasticity index because it must contain clay minerals

that are increasingly expandable as the clay content de- creases. In other words, for a given liquid limit value, a drop in the clay content is accompanied by an increase in the plasticity index, and as a consequence the ratio (A ¼ I p divided by percentage ,2 m), which defines the activity of clay minerals (Lambe, 1951; Skempton, 1953), increases. For example, for a mixture (Fig. 2) with a liquid limit of 61·5% to have a clay content of less than 30%, it would need to contain a more expandable montmorillonite than the one considered here. On Casagrande’s plasticity chart, for a given liquid limit value, the soils lying above the A-line in the clay zone (drawn by Casagrande) show higher plasticity index values than the silts below the A-line. As I p ¼ W L W p , the values of the plastic limit of the clays (soils with CF > 50%) should be less than the values for silt (soils with particles 2–425 m . 50%) with the same liquid limit, contrary to what has been shown in this study and in previous studies (Seed et al., 1964b). In order for the silt zone to lie under the clay zone (Casagrande’s plasticity chart), the values of the plasticity index of the mixtures

180 p (CF 50%) C-line 100 I Montmorillonite–sand mixtures I p (CF 50%) 160 I
180
p (CF 50%)
C-line
100
I Montmorillonite–sand mixtures
I p (CF 50%)
160
I p (CF 50%)
90
Kaolinite–sand mixtures
I p (CF 50%)
80
140
W
p Montmorillonite–sand mixtures
70
W
p Kaolinite–sand mixtures
120
60 clay fraction (CF) % 2 µm
60
100
0
. 5C-line
50
A-line
(Casagrande)
80
40
60
30
40
100
20
100
30
30
0
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
180
200
220
I
p ; W p : %

W L : %

Fig. 2. Plasticity index, I p , and plastic limit, W p , as functions of liquid limit, W L , based on data reported in Table 1. The dashed lines define the zone where mixtures having the same clay fraction (CF) lie

400

POLIDORI

(Fig. 2) with CF , 100% should lie under the C-line. In this case, the values of the plastic limit of the mixtures plotted in Fig. 2 should increase as the clay content decreases, contrary to what occurs. In Fig. 3, several plastic limit and plasticity index values are shown as a function of the liquid limit of the clay minerals kaolinite and montmorillonite. Their clay content ranges from 82% to 100% (Table 2). The data were obtained from previous studies (Seed et al., 1964a; Mesri & Cepeda- Diaz, 1986; Wasti & Bezirci, 1986; Rao et al., 1989; Di Maio & Fenelli, 1994; Kumar & Muir Wood, 1999; Feng, 2000; Lemos & Vaughan, 2000) and from studies now in progress. The A-line of Casagrande and the C-line, which is the regression line of the plasticity index values of the samples with CF ¼ 100%, are also shown. The scatter in the plastic limit and plasticity index values (with CF ¼ 100%) can probably be attributed to the limited precision of the standard methods for determining the plastic limit. For example, Whyte (1982) reported that the plastic limit of a clay determined in different laboratories ranged from 19% to 39%, with an average plastic limit of 23%. In Table 2, for example, the plastic limit of kaolinite is sometimes greater than that of montmorillonite. Both the pure clay minerals considered in this study (from Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz, 1986) appear to have a rather low plastic limit. In fact, the value of the intersection with the y axis of the C-line in Fig. 2 is greater than that of the C-line in Fig. 3, whereas both C-lines have an equal slope (0·96). In agreement with the data shown in Fig. 2, the plasticity index values of the samples with a CF , 100% lie above the C-line. Further- more, as in Fig. 2, the C-line crosses the A-line of Casa- grande. The lowest plasticity index values, corresponding to kaolinite, lie below the A-line (in the silt zone according to Casagrande).

NEW PLASTICITY CHART The new plasticity chart is shown in Fig. 4 and is based on Fig. 2. The chart aims to classify the soils or fraction of

soils ,425 m using the Atterberg limits. New lines are defined in the chart. The C-line and the 0·5C-line are the lines on which the plasticity index values should lie as a function of the liquid limit of the inorganic samples that contain 100% CF and 50% CF respectively. The U-line (as in Casagrande’s plasticity chart) constitutes the upper limit of existence of the soils. The dashed line that unites the point with coordinates (20, 0) with the point (60, 20·6) generally represents the lower limit of existence for inorgan- ic soils. Precisely, it is on point (60, 20·6) that the lowest value of the plasticity index (against W L ) of the pure clay mineral (kaolinite) having the lowest activity value should lie, whereas the values of the plasticity index of this clay mineral mixed with silica silt and/or sand (2–425 m) should lie on the dashed line. As quartz and feldspar produced non-plastic mixtures with water, even when ground to clay size (Casagrande, 1932), their presence in soils lowers the activity values. Inorganic soils with very low activity values (as a function of the activity of pure clay mineral(s) and the content of the non-clay particles ,2 m) may also fall under the dashed line in the organic soils zone (or on the extension of the C-line, when non-clay particles 2–425 m are not present in the soils). The lines have been defined on the basis of available data. The respective equa- tions are shown in Fig. 4. The values of the equations may be confirmed or slightly modified on the basis of further tests with new experimental data (Polidori, in preparation). All the plasticity index values of the inorganic soils with CF , 100% should lie above the C-line (see Fig. 2). The 0·5C-line allows us to distinguish the points that fall below the line, clays (C), from the points lying above the line in the silt zone (M). The clay zone is found between the C-line and the 0·5C-line, and inorganic soils with CF > 50% should be found here. The silt zone is located between the 0·5C-line and the U-line, and inorganic soils composed of silt and/or sand (2–425 m) . 50% should lie here. These zones can be broken down into groups with low or high plasticity (according to the ASTM standard when the liquid limit value is less than or greater than 50% respectively). As

500 I p (CF 100%) C-line I p (CF 100%) 400 ? I p (CF
500
I p (CF 100%)
C-line
I p (CF 100%)
400
?
I p (CF 100%)
I p (CF 100%)
300
A-line
(Casagrande)
200
100
?
0
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
I
p ; W p : %

W L : %

Fig. 3. Plasticity index, I p , and plastic limit, W p , as functions of liquid limit, W L , of samples of clay minerals, kaolinite and montmorillonite (CF 82–100%), based on data from Table 2. C-line: line of regression of values of plasticity index of samples with CF 100%. Casagrande’s A-line is also shown

p : %

I

A NEW PLASTICITY CHART

401

Table 2. Values of the Atterberg limits of the clay minerals kaolinite and montmorillonite

Reference

% ,2 m

Kaolinite

W L : %

W p : %

I p :%

   

Montmorillonite

 
       

% ,2 m

W L : %

W p : %

I p :

%

Seed et al. (1964a) Mesri & Cepeda-Diaz (1986) Wasti & Bezirci (1986) Rao et al. (1989) Di Maio & Fenelli (1994) Kumar & Muir Wood (1999) Feng (2000) Lemos & Vaughan (2000)

       

95·5

521·5

48

473·5

100

45

29

16

100

205

35

170

88

526

38

488

100

348

43·9

304·1

100

57·5

37·8

19·7

100

330·6

55·2

275·4

95

80

39

41

423

37

386

82

69

38

31

 

82

72

36

36

Polidori (in prep.)

100

67

38

29

100

204

45

159

100

372

49

323

100

535

56

479

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

0 . 5C-line C-line for W L 60; I p 0 . 96 W L
0 . 5C-line
C-line
for W L 60; I p 0 . 96 W L 37
U-line
0 . 5C-line
for W L 29; I p 0 . 96 W L 23
U-line
MH
for W L 16; I p 0 . 96 W L 10
C-line
CH
OH
CL
ML
OL
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100

W L : %

Fig. 4. New plasticity chart. C-line, 0·5C-line: lines on which plasticity index, I p , values should lie as a function of liquid limit, W L , of inorganic samples that contain 100% CF and 50% CF (<2 m) respectively. U-line: upper limit of existence of soils. CL, CH groups of clays (CF > 50%) with low and high plasticity respectively. ML, MH groups of silts (2–425 m > 50%) with low and high plasticity respectively. OL, OH organic soils with low and high plasticity respectively. Low plasticity (L) and high plasticity (H) based on ASTM standard

organic soils have a lower plasticity than inorganic soils with the same liquid limit and clay content (Fig. 7), they may lie in the clay zone or below the C-line, as a function of the contents of clay and organic material. On the new plasticity chart, for inorganic soils, the distance of a point from the C-line (see Fig. 2) should be inversely proportional to its clay content. The pure clay minerals should lie on the C-line. The inorganic soils that lie on the 0·5C-line should have a CF ¼ 50%, whereas those that lie at the greatest distance from the C-line, near the U-line, should have the lowest clay contents. This distance allows the calculation of the CF value. In order to determine the values of CF more easily, the distance from the C-line to the U-line can be divided with additional lines, as seen for example in Fig. 2. Furthermore, for inorganic soils, at a given liquid limit value, the plastic limit value (through the plasticity index) and the value of the percentage of clay of

the soil with particles ,425 m should correspond. The percentage of clay obtained from the new plasticity chart should be equal to the clay percentage of grain size distribu- tion of the fraction of the soil ,425 m (Polidori, in preparation). Any possible difference between these two CF values is probably due mainly to the limited precision of the standard method for determining the plastic limit. The presence of organic material may also account for a plasti- city index value that is not proportional to the clay content (lower). The plasticity index value and the percentage of clay allow the activity of the clay minerals present in an inorganic soil to be calculated. The value of the activity will be indicative of the expandability of the clay minerals that are present. The boundary designated as the 0·5C-line should be equivalent to the A-line on Casagrande’s plasticity chart as it divides the clay zone from the silt zone. The fundamental

402

POLIDORI

difference is that the respective positions of these two zones are reversed.

EXAMPLES OF SOILS PLOTTED ON THE NEW PLASTICITY CHART The data of the plasticity index as a function of the liquid limits of several natural and artificial soils are shown on the

proposed plasticity chart in Figs 5–7. These data were obtained from literature (Seed et al., 1964a; Lupini et al., 1981; Skempton, 1985; Nakase et al., 1988; Burland, 1990; Di Maio & Fenelli, 1994; Lemos & Vaughan, 2000) and Polidori (unpublished). Only the Atterberg limits (Table 5) of the samples in which the percentage of silt (2–60 m) is greater than the clay percentage (,2 m) and the samples with a CF . 50% were considered. This allowed the samples

90 U-line (Kaolinite–bentonite) 25–75% sand mixtures 80 (Seed et al., 1964a) 0 . 5C-line (Illite–bentonite)
90
U-line
(Kaolinite–bentonite) 25–75% sand mixtures
80
(Seed et al., 1964a)
0
. 5C-line
(Illite–bentonite) 50–50% sand mixtures
70
(Seed et al., 1964a)
Kaolinite (CF 82–100%)
60
MH
CH
50
C-line
40
OH
30
ML
A-line
20
(Casagrande)
CL
10
OL
0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
I p : %

W L : %

Fig. 5. Location on new plasticity chart (see Fig. 4) of artificial inorganic soil mixtures shown in Table 3. The kaolinite data are reported in Table 2. Casagrande’s A-line is also shown

175 (CF 50%) London clay–Happisburgh till mixtures (Lemos & Vaughan, 2000) (CF 50%) 150 (CF
175
(CF 50%)
London clay–Happisburgh till mixtures
(Lemos & Vaughan, 2000)
(CF 50%)
150
(CF 50%)
Bentonite–sand mixtures
(Lupini et al., 1981)
(CF 50%)
125
Kaolinite–bentonite mixtures
(Di Maio & Fenelli, 1994)
100
U-line
MH
A-line
0
. 5C-line
(Casagrande)
CH
75
OH
50
C-line
25
0
0
25
50
75
100
125
150
175
200
225
I
p : %

W L : %

Fig. 6. Location on proposed plasticity chart (see Fig. 4) of natural and artificial inorganic soil mixtures. The data are reported in Table 4. Casagrande’s A-line is also shown

A NEW PLASTICITY CHART

403

70 0 . 5C-line Natural soils (CF 50%) 60 U-line Natural soils–mixtures (CF 50%) Nat.
70
0
. 5C-line
Natural soils (CF 50%)
60
U-line
Natural soils–mixtures (CF 50%)
Nat. marine soil–sand mixtures (silt CF)
50
Natural soils (silt CF)
CH
Nat. marine soils (CF 35%)
40
Kaolinite–humus mixture
C-line
MH
30
OH
ML
A-line
(Casagrande)
20
CL
10
OL
0
0 10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
I
p : %

W L : %

Fig. 7. Location on new plasticity chart (see Fig. 4) of several inorganic and organic soils as well as several mixtures of natural inorganic soils. CF clay fraction (percentage <2 m). The data are reported in Table 5. Casagrande’s A-line is also shown

70 U-line (CF 50%) Nat. and artificial inorganic soils (CF 50%) 60 Kaolinite (CF 82
70
U-line
(CF 50%)
Nat. and artificial inorganic soils
(CF 50%)
60
Kaolinite (CF 82 to 100%)
Natural organic soils (CF 35%)
50
Kaolinite–humus mixture
A-line
40
CH–OH
30
CL–OL
20
MH–OH
10
CL–ML
ML–OL
0
0 10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
I
p : %

W L : %

Fig. 8. Location on Casagrande’s plasticity chart (ASTM standard) of soils (with W L < 100%) plotted on the new plasticity chart in Figs 5–7

to be clearly separated into two groups: those that are composed mainly of silt and/or sand (CF , 50%) and those composed of clay (CF . 50%). The A-line has also been included in order to show where the same soils would lie on Casagrande’s plasticity chart. As the respective positions of the silt and clay zones are reversed on the two plasticity charts, the points that lie above and below the A-line fall in

the clay zone and the silt zone respectively on Casagrande’s plasticity chart. Figure 5 shows mineral mixtures with various proportions of kaolinite–bentonite or illite–bentonite mixed with sand, based on the data shown in Table 3. All the mixtures have a CF , 50%, ranging from 12% to 47%, and lie in the silt zone, except for one mixture that falls below the 0·5C-line.

404

POLIDORI

Table 3. Atterberg limits of illite–bentonite–sand mixtures and kaolinite–bentonite– sand mixtures

Mixture

50% clay, 50% sand (Seed et al., 1964a)

25% clay, 75% sand (Seed et al., 1964a)

Mixture 50% clay, 50% sand (Seed et al. , 1964a) 25% clay, 75% sand (Seed et
Mixture 50% clay, 50% sand (Seed et al. , 1964a) 25% clay, 75% sand (Seed et

,2 m

,2 m

Illite: %

Bentonite:

%

CF: %

W L :

%

W p :

%

I p :

%

% CF: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 100
% CF: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 100

100

26?

90

10

24

80

20

27

60

40

30

40

60

39

20

80

44

100

47

Kaolinite:

Bentonite:

CF: %

%

%

100

12

90

10

12·5

80

20

14·5

60

40

16·5

40

60

19·5

20

80

21·5

100

24

30·1

15·2

14·9

31·8

18·6

13·2

38·4

19·5

18·9

56·4

22·0

34·4

74·2

26·1

48·1

139·3

27·3

112·0

230·5

28·0

202·5

W L :

%

W p :

%

I p :

%

22

17·3

4·7

30·8

19·8

11

45·4

16·9

28·5

66·4

19

47·4

84·5

20

64·5

105

19·5

84·5

In the same figure, the plasticity index values are also plotted as a function of the liquid limit (Table 2) of kaolinite (relatively pure). All the samples lie below the 0·5C-line in the clay zone. Figure 6 shows the mixtures of the clay mineral kaoli- nite–bentonite, bentonite–sand, and the mixtures of the natural soils London clay–Happisburgh till (Table 4). Note that the mixtures with CF . 50% are located in the clay zone, except for one mixture that lies below the C-line in the zone of organic soils. The mixtures with a CF , 50% lie above the 0·5C-line in the silt zone. Figure 7 shows several examples of inorganic and organic soils and several mixtures (Table 5). Note that the organic soils, as they have lower plasticity than inorganic soils with the same liquid limit and clay content, may even lie below the C-line. The natural marine organic soils that are shown have CF contents ,35%. With a few exceptions, the inorganic soils shown in Figs

5–7 lie in the silt zone and the clay zone when their clay contents are less than or greater than 50% respectively. As the contents of the possible particles .425 m in the soils shown in Table 5 are generally unknown, the percentages of clay that can be obtained from the new plasticity chart (as a function of the distance of the plotted points from the C-line) referring to soil particles ,425 m may be slightly greater than those presented in Table 5, which refer to total soil. This is because a sample also composed of non-clay particles .425 m has a grain size distribution that is differ- ent from the grain size distribution of the fraction of soil (,425 m) used for the Atterberg limits. Nevertheless, the exceptions (underestimates or overestimates of I p ) are prob- ably due mainly to the difficulty of determining the plastic limit. Figure 8 shows the soils plotted in Figs 5–7 on Casagran- de’s plasticity chart. The position of the A-line is such that the inorganic soils lie above it in the clay zone, regardless

Table 4. Values of the Atterberg limits of bentonite–sand mixtures, kaolinite–bentonite mixtures and London clay–Happisburgh till mixtures

Reference

Lupini et al. (1981)

Di Maio & Fenelli (1994)

Lemos & Vaughan (2000)

Reference Lupini et al. (1981) Di Maio & Fenelli (1994) Lemos & Vaughan (2000)
Reference Lupini et al. (1981) Di Maio & Fenelli (1994) Lemos & Vaughan (2000)
Reference Lupini et al. (1981) Di Maio & Fenelli (1994) Lemos & Vaughan (2000)
Reference Lupini et al. (1981) Di Maio & Fenelli (1994) Lemos & Vaughan (2000)

Bentonite:

CF: %

% ,2 m

Sand: %

W L :

%

W p :

%

I p :

%

m Sand: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 15
m Sand: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 15
m Sand: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 15
m Sand: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 15

15

85

13

38

21

17

30

70

26

56

20

36

45

55

40

80

23

57

60

40

53

114

28

86

75

25

66

140

36

104

100

88

184

48

136

Kaolinite:

%

Bentonite: %

CF: %

,2 m

W

L :

%

W

p :

%

I

p :

%

100

100

57·5

37·8

19·7

75

25

100

100·9

34·4

66·5

50

50

100

165·3

37·8

127·5

40

60

100

205·5

44·3

161·2

25

75

100

259·2

48·9

210·3

100

100

330·6

55·2

275·4

W L :

%

W p :

%

I p :

%

W L : % W p : % I p : %

London

Happisburgh

CF: %

clay: %

till: %

,2 m

100

20

24·1

12

12·1

25

75

29

35·5

14·1

21·4

50

50

35

47·1

18·2

28·9

75

25

45

58

22

36

100

58

71

26

45

A NEW PLASTICITY CHART

405

Table 5. Several values of the Atterberg limits of natural soils, natural soil–sand mixtures and natural soil mixtures

Mixture

Natural marine soil–sand mixtures (Nakase et al., 1988)

Natural inorganic soils (Polidori, unpublished)

Natural marine organic soils (Polidori, unpublished)

Kaolinite–humus mixture (Polidori, unpublished)

Natural inorganic soils (Lupini et al., 1981)

Natural inorganic soil mixtures, ,425 m (Lupini et al., 1981)

Natural inorganic soils (Burland, 1990)

Natural inorganic soils (Skempton, 1985)

(Burland, 1990) Natural inorganic soils (Skempton, 1985) Silt: % Clay: % W L : % W
(Burland, 1990) Natural inorganic soils (Skempton, 1985) Silt: % Clay: % W L : % W
(Burland, 1990) Natural inorganic soils (Skempton, 1985) Silt: % Clay: % W L : % W
(Burland, 1990) Natural inorganic soils (Skempton, 1985) Silt: % Clay: % W L : % W

Silt: %

Clay: %

W L : %

W p : %

I p :

%

% Clay: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 61·6
% Clay: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 61·6
% Clay: % W L : % W p : % I p : % 61·6

61·6

22·3

55·3

25·9

29·4

48·7

17·2

42·7

23·3

19·4

39·2

13·4

34·8

20·2

14·6

28·9

9·7

27·6

16·9

10·7

62

32

42

20

22

70

25

43

21

22

52

20

33

19

14

69

22

45

20

25

70

19

36

19

17

47

13

32

20

12

46

31

43

22

21

71

25

47

40

7

67

29

43

34

9

74

18

54

32

22

70

28

41

30

11

68

27

44

30

14

63

34

57

36

21

64

25

39

30

9

64

29

54

38

16

Humus

67

93

64

29

52

65

32

33

63

63

28

35

57

72

29

43

59

95

34

61

57

82

28

54

64

68

25

43

52

58

26

32

60

93

32

61

20

24

12

12

27

36

14

22

34

51

18

33

40

65

20

45

48

73

24

49

59

68·5

28·7

39·8

53

70·6

28·9

41·7

57

70·0

27·0

43·0

60

67·8

29·0

38·8

62

88

32

56

70

57

27

30

52

60

27

33

52

64

28

36

58

75

29

46

55

80

29

51

of their clay contents, which range from 9·7% to 100%. In addition to organic soils, only samples of kaolinite with CF 82–100% lie under the A-line in the silt zone. For inorganic soils, the classification of silt or clay obtained from the new plasticity chart should be in agree- ment with the main component (silt or clay) defined by the nomenclature (for example, British Standard) for the grain size distribution of the fraction of the soil ,425 m. The samples with CF 34–49% may be exceptions. Indeed, it might occur that a soil composed, for example, of clay

¼ 34%, silt (2–60 m) ¼ 33% and sand (60–425 m) ¼ 33%, and thus definable by grain size distribution as ‘clay

’ (on the basis of the respective nomenclature)

with

should, on the contrary, be classified as silt from a behav- ioural standpoint on the proposed plasticity chart. This is because, unlike what occurs for grain size distribution, the

two components silt and sand (equal in terms of behaviour) are included in the fraction 2–425 m.

CONCLUSIONS A new plasticity chart for classifying soils (or soil frac- tions) ,425 m using their liquid limit and plasticity index is proposed. On this chart (W L , I p ), two straight lines separate silts, clays and organic soils. The positions of these lines were determined by considering the behaviour of montmorillonite–sand and kaolinite–sand mixtures. A line joining the points for kaolinite and montmorillonite separates clays from organic soils, and a line linking the points for the 1 : 1 mixtures separates silts from clays. This plasticity chart differs from that proposed by Casa- grande (W L , I p ) primarily in that the respective positions of the silt and clay zones are reversed. Indeed, on the new chart, the silt zone is found above the clay zone. On the basis of what has been demonstrated in this work, and the examples of inorganic soils shown on the two plasticity charts, it can be concluded that the positions of the clay and silt zones on Casagrande’s chart are not accurate. Casagran-

406

POLIDORI

de’s chart was defined empirically without considering the clay contents in the soils. Plotting inorganic soils (,425 m) on the proposed plasti- city chart using the Atterberg limits not only classifies these soils, but also allows information regarding both the amount and type of clay minerals present (activity) to be obtained.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The research upon which this paper is based was funded by the Italian National Council of Research, GNDCI No.

01·01048·42

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