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Soil Lab Manual

Soil Lab Manual

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Published by: Venu Gopal on Dec 07, 2012
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Scope of the test

The vane test is a test, which can be carried out both in the field and in the laboratory.
The undrained shear strength of soft to firm cohesive soils can be determined without the sample being
disturbed by preparation. This method may be used when the sample is too sensitive or soft to enable a
compression test.

Apparatus used

-Laboratory vane test apparatus see fig 5.1-1

Sample preparation

An undisturbed sample should be cut and trimmed to a diameter of 37.5mm with a length of about
75mm. Place the trimmed sample centrally into the sample container belonging to the equipment. Fill
the annular space between the wall of the container and the sample with molten wax.
Alternatively we can clamp a sample container with an undisturbed sample on the base plate of the vane
equipment the sample shut be of sufficient dimensions such that the shearing force applied by the vane
is not hampered or influenced by forces originating from the extremities of the sample.
Three tests on one sample material should be sufficient if the results are reasonably constant.

Execution of the test (for numbers see fig. 5.1-1)
Peek value
- a choice of spring is made dependent upon the stiffness of the ground :
weak ground: spring 2kg.cm
firm ground: spring 8kg.cm
- measure the dimensions of the vane
- clamp the sample container in the clamping attachment or in a other way vertically below the vane


- Lower the vane gradually without disturbing the soil sample so that the top of the vane is at least
10mm below the surface of the sample.
- bring the maximum pointer in contact with the (strain)angle indicator
- note the reading on the circular graduated scale
- operate the torque applicator handle with a rate of 1 revolution per second or used the motorized
drive unit until the maximum shear resistance of the soil is reached. At this point failure occurs and
the torque decrease but the maximum pointer remains in the position indicated the maximum
angular deflection of the spring. Warning: If the (strain)angle indicator rotate for more then 180
degrees stop the test and repeat with a stiffer spring.
- record the reading of the maximum pointer as the peek value.
Remoulded value
- after reading of the (strain)angle indicator rotate the vane rapidly two complete revolutions, to
remould the soil.
- After stopping rotation wait for a few seconds and slowly apply torque as been done for the peek

strength .
- Record the reading of the maximum pointer as the remoulded value

Repeat the test at least twice.

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual



Calculate the difference between the initial reading and the reading at the peek and remoulded value
This difference gives the angle of torque of the spring. Multiply the outcome by the spring factor (is
indicated on the spring) and dived the outcome by 180 this give the torque in kgf.cm recalculate this
value in N.mm. Average the values obtaining for the different test.
If one result differs appreciably from the others (more then 20%) it should be discarded.

Calculate the vane shear strength of the soil, τv in kPa





v =


M= measured torque in N.mm
K = constant which depends on the dimensions of the vane.











K π

D = vane diameter (mm)
H = vane height (mm)


-The average undisturbed and remoulded shear strengths in KPa
-The highest and lowest measured values
-Type of testing machine
-Size of the vane
-Indicate the horizon at with the test was executed

Fig. 5.1.1 Laboratory vane apparatus used at DGM

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


5.2 Shear strength with Triaxial test BS 1377: part 8 1990

Scope of the test:

The measurement of the effective shear strength parameters for cylindrical specimens of saturated soil
which have been subjected to isotropic consolidation and then sheared in compression, under a constant
confining pressure, by increasing the axial strain.
The test maybe performed consolidated or unconsolidated under drained or undrained conditions, with
the possibility of measuring pore pressure and volume change.

Overview test set-up

The triaxial test set up maintenance the following apparatus (fig 5.2.1)

1- Triaxial test frame


2- Pressure controller

air regulator

3- Control panel


4- Triaxial cell


5- Load ring


6- Strain transducer

Strain transducer max. 25 mm 0.01mm.

7- Pressure transducer

Pore pressure transmitter.

8- Volume change apparatus controls
9- Bladders

controls air-water cylinder.

Fig. 5.2.1

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


Description of test

The sample is enclosed in a thin rubber membrane, which is sealed against the pedestal and the top cap
on the sample by rubber O-rings.
The sample is placed on the base plate of a triaxial cell. The removable cap of the cell is placed over the
sample and the total triaxial cell is placed in the triaxial frame.
The cell can be filled with (de-aired) water, and with the air regulator we can established the desired
cell pressure (σ3).
A piston, movable with little friction through a bush in the top cap of the triaxial cell, rest on the top cap
of the sample. The upper end of the piston touches a dynamometer, consisting of a metal ring and a dial
gauge, which measures the decrease in vertical diameter when a force is applied to the ring. The force is
found by multiplying the dial gauge reading by a calibration constant. (See calibration chart)
The triaxial frame has a stepper motor and screw jack assembly, which can provide a constant platen
speed. This causes a compression of both dynamometer and sample.
The rate at which the sample is compressed is depending on the kind test (CU, UU, or CD), and type of
material to be tested. A dial gauge just below the dynamometer measures the settlement of the sample.
With a pressure transducer, the pore pressure can be measured.
And with the automatic volume change apparatus, we can measure the amount of water going in or out
the sample.

During the practical we will execute an unconsolidated undrained test (UU), this is a normally not much
performed test. (No effective stresses are measured)

Sample preparation

Specimens shall have a height equal to about twice the diameter, with plane ends normal to the axis.
The diameter is normally between 35 and 100 mm.

Undisturbed specimens shall be prepared with the minimum change of the soil structure and
moisture content.

The method of preparation shall depend on whether the sample received in the laboratory is contained
in a tube of the same internal diameter as the specimen to be tested, or in a tube of larger diameter, or as
a block sample.

Preparing the sample from a block sample.

Cut out an approximately rectangular prism of soil slightly larger than the final dimensions of the
specimen. Make the ends of the prism plane and parallel.
Put the prism in a soil lathe (fig 5.2.2) and cut off the excess soil in thin layers. Rotate the specimen
between each cut until a cylindrical specimen is produced. Take care to avoid disturbance due to torsion
effects. Remove the sample from the soil lathe. Cut to the required length and make the ends plane and
normal to the specimen axis to within ½ °.
A handy way to establish this is by putting the sample in a catch tube, and cutting away the surplus.
With the aid of the levelling ring (fig.5.2.4), smooth the ends of the sample by placing the ring on the
end of the catch tube and giving the ring a few turns.
Do this to both ends of the sample and make sure that the sample does not slide up and down in the
catch tube.

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


Fig. 5.2.2, Soil lathe

Preparing the sample from sample tube. (See fig. 5.2.3)

- Push the sample tube into the block sample; be sure the sample is long enough.
- Place the sample tube in the extruder
- Put on the inner side off catch tube mineral oil or silicone crease

1 = Extruder
2 = Sample tube
3 = Catch tube

Fig. 5.2.3

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


- Fasten the catch tube with the fastening fork to the outside of the extruder
- By turning the screw of the extruder, press the sample out of the sample tube into the catch tube.
- Separate the sample in the catch tube from the remainder in the sample tube with help of a thread


- With the aid of the levelling ring (fig.5.2.4), smooth the ends of the sample.
- Placing the ring on the end of the catch tube and giving the ring a few turns
- Do this to both ends of the sample and make sure that the sample does not slide up and down in the

catch tube.


1= Catch tube
2= Sample trimmer
3= Porous discs
4= Specimen

Fig 5.2.4, Catch tube and sample trimmer.

- Take the weight from sample with catch tube, by subtracting the weight of the catch tube we can
calculate the bulk density (fill in your test form).
- Place footcap and topcap on the ends of the sample.
- Remove the sample carefully out the catch tube
- Measure the height and diameter of the sample. (Fill in your test form).

Test Procedure

The procedure describes the test set up for an unconsolidated undrained test
In order to obtain a reasonable assessment of the C and φ values, three experiments should be done on
three different undisturbed samples of the same soil at three different cell pressures.

- Place the sample with the foot piece and cap on the base of the pressure cell
- Place a membrane inside the membrane application tube and fold the ends over the outside of the
tube, to fit the membrane snugly against the inside wall of the tube wall suck on the hose to create a
vacuum between tube and membrane
- Slide the membrane application carefully over the sample (see fig. 5.2-4)

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


1 = Membrane application
2 = Sucking tube
3 = Membrane
4 = Base pedestal of the pressure cell
5 = Pressure cap


- Remove the suction (vacuum) between the tube and membrane
- Roll the membrane ends off of the application tube onto the footpiece and cap
- Seal the membrane to the base pedestal using two rubber O-rings
- Remove air pockets from between the membrane and the specimen by light stroking upwards
- Seal the membrane to the pressure cap with two rubber O rings
- Roll the extra membrane back over the rubber ring
- Place the cap of the pressure cell over the sample and onto the base plate and fasten it securely with

the tie rods

- Press the piston carefully onto the cap making sure that the piston falls into the circular hole in the

sample cap

- Bring the load plate from the triaxial frame up (see the operation instructions from the triaxial
Apparatus), until the piston is into contact with the dynamometer (no vertical pressure is exerted on
the sample)
- Open the air vent on the cap off the cell and fill the cell with de-aired water
- Close the vent tightly
- Build up the desired pressure in the cell with the air regulator cell pressure and control panel (see
the operation instruction of these apparatus)
- Bring the strain gauge in contact with the datum bar on the top of the cell and adjust to read zero
- Adjust the dynamometer to read zero
- Select the machine speed.
- Start the test and note values of the dial gauge from the dynamometer at certain strain intervals see

test form

- Continue the test until a constant reading is obtained on the dynamometer or at 20% strain
- Stop the test and remove the pressure from the cell, with help from the air regulator cell pressure.
- Bring down the base plate from the triaxial machine
- Open the air vent and drain the water out the cell

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


- Remove the sample from the cell and sketch the failure pattern
- Determine water content


After executed at least 3 test with different cell pressure (σ3), we can calculated the deviator stress (σ1-
σ3)m (in kPa), given by

P/As ∗ 1000 in kPa

P = is the axial force in N, dial gauge reading times calibration factor (note: the dial gauge reading is
already corrected for the applied cell pressure (
σ3) and friction from the piston).
As = area cross section of the specimen, this area will change during the compression stage so we need
to make a correction: The corrected area is given for each strain reading on the test form.

Graphically plot the values of deviator stress against the displacement (in percentage)
Calculated the major principal stress σ1 (in kPa), given by

σ1=(σ1-σ3) + σ3


σ3 is the cell pressure (kPa)

Graphically plot the values σ1 and σ3 on the horizontal axis.
Draw the Mohrs circles and measures the values for the internal angle off friction (φ) and cohesion (c).

Calibration chart for load measuring ring 2.0 kN compression.

Temperature at calibration 20 ° C
ring serial number 00010105
Gauge reading 0.001 mm

Load kN





















Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


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