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Soil Lab Manual

Soil Lab Manual

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Published by Venu Gopal

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Published by: Venu Gopal on Dec 07, 2012
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  • 2.1 Simple dry sieving BS 1377: Part 2:1990
  • 2.2 Wet sieving - fine soils BS1377: Part 2:1990
  • 2.3 Hydrometer test BS 1377: part 2:1990
  • The Atterberg limits
  • 3.1 Liquid limit with Casagrande cup. BS 1377: Part 2:1990 (ASTM D4318)
  • 3.2 Liquid limit using the cone penetrometer BS 1377: Part 2:1990
  • 3.3 Plastic limit BS 1377: Part 2:1990
  • 4.1 Density BS 1377: Part 2:1990
  • 4.2 Natural Moisture Content BS 1377:part 2,1990
  • 5.1 Vane test BS 1377: Part 7 1990
  • 5.3 Direct shear test BS 1377: part 7 1990
  • 6.1 Consolidation test BS 1377: Part 5: 1990
  • 7.1 Proctor test BS 1377:Part 4: 1990
  • 7.2 Californian bearing ratio test BS 1377:Part 4: 1990
  • Permeability tests
  • 8.1 Constant head test BS 1377 part 5
  • 8.2 Falling Head Permeability Tests
  • 9.1 Pocket penetrometer, Heavy duty pocket penetrometer

Scope of the test

The liquid limit of soil is the water content, expressed as a percentage of the weight of the oven dried
soil, at the boundary between the liquid and the plastic state. The water content at this boundary is
arbitrarily defined as the water content at which two halves of a soil cake will flow together for a
distance of 12-mm along the bottom of the groove separating the two halves, when the cup is dropped
25 times for a distance of 1 cm at the rate of 2 drops/s.

Note: The difference between the American and British Standard, is the difference in base plate of the
Casagrande cup. The British standard defines a relative soft rubber base, the American
standard a harder ebonite one. Because of this difference, the results of the British method are
generally higher.

Apparatus used

- Casagrande cup, according the ASTM or BS standard.
- Flat glass plate about 500mm square.
- Mass balance accurate to 0.01g
- Drying oven
- Glass cup or tin dishes
- Spatulas

Fig. 3.1.1 Casagrande apparatus

Sample preparation

Place the soil sample, weighing about 250 g, from the thoroughly mixed portion of the material passing
the No.40 (425-µm) sieve obtained in accordance with the used standard in a porcelain evaporating dish
(about 114-mm in diameter) and thoroughly mix with 15 to 20 ml of distilled water by alternately and
repeatedly stirring, kneading, and chopping with a spatula. Mixing can also be done on a glass plate in
the case care shut be taken to keep the hole sample at the same moister content. Make further additions
of water in increments of 1 to 3 ml. Thoroughly mixes each increment of water with the soil as
previously described, before adding another increment of water.

Test procedure

When sufficient water has been thoroughly mixed with the soil to produce a consistency that will
require 30 to 35 lift and drops of the Casagrande cup to cause closure of the groove
Place a portion of the mixture in the cup above the spot where the cup Pests on the base. Squeeze it

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


down and spread it in the position shown in fig. 3.1-2. with as few strokes of the spatula as possible,
care being taken to prevent the entrapment of air bubbles within the Mass. With the spatula (having a
blade about 76-mm in length and 19mm in width) level the soil and at the same time trim it to a depth
of 1 cm at the point of maximum thickness. Return the excess soil to the evaporating dish. Divide the
soil by firm strokes of the grooving tool along the diameter through the centreline of the cam follower
so that a sharp, clean groove of the proper dimensions will be formed. To avoid tearing of the sides of
the groove or slipping of the soil cake on the cup, up to six strokes, from front to back or from back to
front counting as one stroke, shall be permitted. Each stroke should penetrate a little deeper until the
last stroke from the back to front scrapes the bottom of the cup clean. Make the strokes with as few
strikes as possible.

Fig. 3.1.2 Casagrande cup

Lift and drop the cup by turning the crank at the rate of 2 revolutions per second, until the two halves of
the soil cake come in contact at the bottom of the groove along a distance of about 12 mm.
Record the numbers of drops required to close the groove along a distance of about 12-mm.
Remove a slice of soil approximately the width of the spatula, extending from edge to edge of the soil
cake in right angles to the groove and including that portion of the groove in which the soil flowed
together, and place it in a suitable container (for example a matched watch glass).
Weigh and record the mass.
Oven-dry the soil in the container to constant mass at 110 °C and reweigh as soon as it has cooled but
before hydroscopic moisture can be absorbed. Record this mass. Record the loss in mass due to drying
as the mass of water.
Transfer the soil remaining in the cup to the evaporating dish. Wash and dry the cup and grooving tool,
and reattach the cup to the carriage in preparation for the next trial.
Repeat the foregoing operations for at least two additional trials with the soil collected in the
evaporating dish, to which sufficient water has been added to bring the soil to a more fluid condition.
Preserve after completion of the test the test sample if the plastic limit and plasticity index test has to be
determined from the soil sample.
The object of this procedure is to obtain samples of such consistency that the number of drops required
closing the groove
Will be above and below 25. The number of drops should be less than 35 and exceed 15. The test
should always proceed from the dryer to the wetter condition of the soil.


Calculate the water content Wn of the soil, expressed as a percentage
of the weight of the oven-dried soil, as follows:











Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


Preparation of the flow curve.

Plot a "flow curve" representing the relationship between water content and corresponding number of
drops of the cup on a semilogarithmic graph with the water content as abscissa on the arithmetical scale,
and the numbers of drops as ordinate on the logarithmic scale. The "flow curve" is a straight line drawn
as nearly as possible through the three or more plotted points. See fig. 3.1.3

Fig. 3.1.3

-Report the liquid limit as the water content corresponding to the intersection of the flow curve with the
25-drop ordinate as the liquid limit of the soil. Round off this number to the nearest whole value.
-Treatment of the soil.
-The percentage material passes the 425 mµ sieve, if it was sieved.

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan


Soil mechanics laboratory manual


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