Sedimentation Analysis

It is also called wet analysis and is applicable for fine grained soils. The analysis is based on Stokes’ law which states that the velocity at which soil particles settle in a suspension depend on shape, size and weight of particles. The sedimentation analysis is most convenient for determining the grains size distribution of the soil fraction finer than 75 μ (micron) in size. The analysis is based on Stokes’ law. Stokes’ law states that the velocities of free fall (terminal velocity) of spherical, fine particles, through a liquid are different for different sizes. In the case of soils, thought the grains are of different shapes, it is assumed that they are spherical and have the same specific gravity (average specific gravity). If a single sphere is allowed to fall freely through a liquid of infinite extent, its velocity will first increase rapidly under the action of gravity, but a constant velocity called the terminal velocity is reached within a short time. According to Stokes’ law, the terminal velocity, v is given by

= Terminal velocity of sinking soil particle (m/s) D = Diameter of soil particle (m) = Unit weight of soil solids (Nm-3) = Unit weight of water (Nm-3) Gs = Specific Gravity of Soil Solids η = Viscosity of liquid (Ns/m2)


where μ = Absolute viscosity of liquid (Poise, dyne-s/m2) (1 Poise = 1 N/ms, 1dyne = 10-5 N)

If a particle of size D (m) falls through a height He (m) in t seconds, then the velocity of the particle is given by

the finer particles are never truly spherical.  The rate of fall is influenced by the presence of other particles in the suspension. However for concentrations of 50 g/litre or less.  Stokes’ law considers the velocity of free fall of a single sphere in a suspension of infinite extent. Limitations:  The analysis is based on the assumption that the falling grain is spherical. The grain size thus measured is the equivalent diameter of a sphere which will have the same rate of fall as the actual soil grain. They are usually flaky or needle shaped. A floc is an accumulation of small particles. the diameter measured will be the diameter of the floc and not of the individual grain. the influence of particles on each other is not appreciable. (Also applies to hydrometer analysis) Assumptions:  Soil particles are assumed to be spherical  all soil particles are assumed to have the same density or specific gravity (average)  The terminal velocity of the soil particle is directly proportional to its diameter  The particles are assumed to settle independent of each other through a liquid of infinite extent and without the interference of the wall of the container.  The finer grains of the soil carry charge on their surface and have a tendency of floc formation.The application of Stokes’ law to grain size analysis has the following limitations and also the following assumptions were made. If the tendency to floc formation is not prevented.  An average value of specific gravity of grains is used though the specific gravity of some of the grains may be different from the average value. . In soils. whereas the grain size analysis is usually carried out in a glass jar in which the extent of liquid is limited.