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# 3.7 CONSISTENCY OF CLAY SOILS Consistency is that property of a material which is manifested by its resistance to flow.

In this sense, consistency of a soil refers to the resistance offered by it against forces that tend to deform or rupture the soil aggregate; in other words, it represents the relative ease with which the soil may be deformed. Consistency may also be looked upon as the degree of firmness of a soil and is often directly related to strength. This is applicable specifically to clay soils and is generally related to the water content.

Laboratory Definition 2: Using Fall Cone penetrometer, the water content corresponding to a 80-g cone penetration of 20 mm defines the liquid limit.

Figure 3.2 Variation of volume of soil mass with variation of water content CONSISTENCY LIMITS (Atterberg Limits) and INDECES a. Liquid Limit Liquid limit (LL or wL) is defined as the arbitrary limit of water content at which the soil is just about to pass from the plastic state into the liquid state. At this limit, the soil possesses a small value of shear strength, losing its ability to flow as a liquid. In other words, the liquid limit is the minimum moisture content at which the soil tends to flow as a liquid. Laboratory Definition 1 (ASTM D 4318): Using Cup Device or the Casagrande Apparatus, the moisture content corresponding to 25 blows from the flow curve is taken as the liquid limit of the soil. From the figure, LL = 31.5%.

## Flow Index (FI) slope of the flow curve

( Where

w1, w2 = moisture contents at cone penetrations of d1 and d2, respectively b. Plastic Limit Plastic limit (PL or wp) is the arbitrary limit of water content at which the soil tends to pass from the plastic state to the semi-solid state of consistency. Thus, this is the minimum water content at which the change in shape of the soil is accompanied by visible cracks, i.e., when worked upon, the soil crumbles. Laboratory Definition 1: By rolling on glass through bare hands, the moisture content at which the soil crumbles when rolled into threads of 3.2 mm (1/8 in) in diameter is taken as the plastic limit of the soil.

Most probable value of PL Figure 3.3 Flow Curve (x No. of blows, y moisture contents) Flow Index (FI) slope of the flow curve ( One-Point Method ( ) Where )

Laboratory Definition 2: Using cone penetrometer (fall cone method) with two masses of cone (80 g and 240 g), PL can be determined by this equation:

50% < LL < 120%, N: from 20 to 30 blows or drops LL < 50%, N: from 15 to 35 blows or drops Where N = number of drops required to close the groove at the moisture content, wN x = 0.092 for soils with LL less than 50% x = 0.120 for soils with LL more than 50%

w = separation in terms of moisture content between liquid state lines of two cones M1 = 80-g cone M2 = 240-g cone Laboratory Definition 3: By Feng, 2000

## Where m = slope (taken as positive) of the best-fit straight line.

If you use a spreadsheet program, you can obtain C and m from a power trend line function that gives the best-fit equation

LI < 0, the soil is in the semi-solid state and is stiff Table: Consistency Classification

h. Toughness Index Toughness Index (TI) is defined as the ratio of the plasticity index to the flow index:

c. Shrinkage Limit Shrinkage limit (SL or ws) is the arbitrary limit of water content at which the soil tends to pass from the semi-solid to the solid state. It is that water content at which a soil, regardless, of further drying, remains constant in volume. Laboratory Definition: SL can be calculated from this equation ( Where m1 = mass of wet soil m2 = mass of oven-dried soil V1 = volume of wet soil V2 = volume of oven-dried soil d. Plasticity Index Plasticity index (PI or Ip) is the range of water content within which the soil exhibits plastic properties; that is, it is the difference between liquid and plastic limits. )

EXAMPLE 3.7 A liquid limit test, conducted on a soil sample in the cup device, gave the following results: Number of blows 10 19 23 27 40 Water Content (%) 60.0 45.2 39.8 36.5 25.2 Four determinations for the plastic limit gave water contents of 20.3% 20.55%, 20.8% and 11.26%.

Determine the following: a. LL and PL (in %) b. Plasticity Index c. Liquidity index and Consistency Index, if the natural water content is 27.4%. Describe the consistency. d. Void ratio at the LL if Gs = 2.7 e. Shrinkage limit of the soil if the void ratio of this soil is at the minimum volume reached on shrinkage is 0.405 Table: Plasticity Characteristics If the soil were to be loaded to failure, would you expect a brittle failure? e. Shrinkage Index Shrinkage index (SI or Is) is defined as the difference between the plastic and shrinkage limits of a soil; in other words, it is the range of water content within which a soil is in a semisolid state of consistency. EXAMPLE 3.8 A fall cone test was carried out on a soil to determine liquid limit and plastic limit using cones of masses 80 g and 240 g. The following results were obtained.
80-g cone 240-g cone 28 62.9 9 37 18 47.5 22 51 30 55.1 Penetration (mm) Moisture Content % 8 43.1 15 52 19 56.1

f. Consistency Index Consistency index or Relative consistency (CI or Ic) is defined as the ratio of the difference between liquid limit and the natural water content to the plasticity index of a soil: Where w = natural moisture content of the soil (water content of a soil in the undisturbed condition in the ground If CI = 0, w = LL CI = 1, w = PL CI > 1, the soil is in semi-solid state and is stiff CI < 0, the natural water content is greater than LL, and the soil behaves like liquid g. Liquidity Index Liquidity index (LI or IL) or Water-plasticity ratio is the ratio of the difference between the natural water content and the plastic limit to the plasticity index: If LI = 0, w = PL LI = 1, w = LL LI > 1, the soil is in liquid state

EXAMPLE 3.9 The following results were recorded in a shrinkage limit test using mercury.

Initial volume of saturated soil = 32.4 cc Determine the following: a. Shrinkage limit of soil b. Specific gravity of grains c. Bulk unit weight of soil d. Initial and final dry unit weight of soil e. Void ratio EXAMPLE 3.10 The Atterberg limits of a clay soil are: Liquid limit = 75%; Plastic limit = 45%; and Shrinkage limit = 25%. If a sample of this soil has a volume of 30 cm 3 at the liquid limit and a volume 16.6 cm3 at the shrinkage limit, determine the specific gravity of solids. EXAMPLE 3.11 The mass specific gravity of a saturated specimen of clay is 1.84 when the water content is 38%. On oven drying the mass specific gravity falls to 1.70. Determine the specific gravity of solids and shrinkage limit of the clay. EXAMPLE 3.12 A saturated soil sample has a volume of 23 cm3 at liquid limit. The shrinkage limit and liquid limit are 18% and 45%, respectively. The specific gravity of solids is 2.73. Determine the minimum volume which can be attained by the soil. EXAMPLE 3.13 Two soils S1 and S2 are tested in the laboratory for the consistency limits. The data available is as follows:

a. b. c. d. e.

Which soil is more plastic? Which soil is better foundation material when remolded? Which soil has better strength as a function of water content? Which soil has better strength at the plastic limit? Could organic matter be present in these soils?