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Soil Mech. Lab Manual

# Soil Mech. Lab Manual

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01/22/2013

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Scope of the test

The bulk density of a soil, ρ, is the mass per unit volume of the soil deposit including any water it
contains. The dry density, ρd, is the mass of dry soil contained in a unit volume. Both are expressed in
Mg/m3

, which is numerically the same as g/cm3
.
Three methods are specified. The first applies to soils that can be formed into a regular geometric
shape, the volume of which can be calculated from linear measurements. In the second the volume of
the specimen is determined by weighing it submerged in water. In the third the volume is measured by
displacement of water.

Apparatus used:

- calliper with accuracy of 0.1mm
- balance with accuracy of 0.01g
- cutting and trimming tools
- Paraffin

Linear measurement method

This method is suitable for the determination of the density of a sample of cohesive soil of regular
shape.
The sample is mostly extruded from a sample tube but can also be shaped in a cube or rectangular block
from a undisturbed soil sample

- The specimen volume is calculated from the average value of several calliper readings (3 at least)
for each dimension of the sample
- Weight the trimmed specimen to an accuracy of 0.1 % (m)
- Calculate the volume, V of the specimen.

Calculations

The bulk density can be calculated:
ρ =

Vm

If the moisture content, W (in %), of the soil is known, calculate the dry density of the specimen, ρd (in
Mg/m3

), from the equation:

ρd =

W

100

100

Express the density and dry density of the soil specimen to the nearest 0.01 Mg/m3

Remark:

In practice we often use a (density) cutting ring to prepare a cylindrical sample with a fixed volume

Immersion in water method

This method determine the bulk density and dry density of samples of natural or compacted soil by
measuring its mass in air and its apparent mass when suspended in water.

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan

14/06/2005

Soil mechanics laboratory manual

33

- Trim the soil sample, until a specimen is produced measuring at least 100 mm in each dimension.
- Weigh the specimen to the nearest 1 g (Ms)
- Fill al l the surface air voids of the specimen with a material that is insoluble in water, e.g.
plasticine or putty and weigh to the nearest 1 g (Mf)
- Coat the specimens completely by dipping in molten paraffin wax. Allow the waxed specimen to
cool and weigh to the nearest 1 g (Mw)
- Measure the apparent mass of the specimen while suspended in water to the nearest 1 g (Mg)

Calculations

Calculate the volume of the specimen, Vs (in cm3

), from the equation:

⎟⎟
⎠⎞

⎜⎜
⎝⎛

⎟⎟
⎠⎞

⎜⎜
⎝⎛

=

ρ

ρ

ρ

f

-

w

g

-

w

s

M

water

M

M

V

M

Where,
Mw is the mass of specimen and wax coating (in g);
Mg is the apparent mass of specimen and wax coating when suspended in water (in g)
Mf is the mass of specimen after making up surface voids with filler (in g);
ρρ is the density of paraffin wax (in g/cm3
)

Calculate the bulk density of the specimen, ρ (in Mg/m3

), from the equation:

s

s

VM

=

ρ

Where, Ms is the mass of the soil specimen (in g)

Water displacement method

This method used the water displacement and mass of a specimen, to calculate the bulk density and dry
density.
The sample is prepared like the water immersion method and put in a water container with siphon
outlet. By taking the weight of the water coming out, the volume can be calculated.

Reporting

The report shall include the following information:
Data on the sample
Project name, location, and date of sampling, sample number, depth below terrain (in case of a
borehole)
Type of sample (core, block or other), sample dimensions
The sample transport and storage conditions
The density should be reported to the nearest 0.01 Mg/m3
The report should specify the type of test.

Geotechnical Laboratory of DGM, Thimphu Bhutan

14/06/2005

Soil mechanics laboratory manual

34

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