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Experiment Title: Soil Classification Test Part 3

Subject: UEMX 2413 Soil Mechanics


Course: Civil Engineering
Name of Student: Sim Chia Onn
Student ID No: 1005150
Year and Semester: Y3S3
Date of Experiment: 14/3/2014
Name of Lecturer: Dr. Lee Min Lee




Receipt of Lab Report Submission
(To be kept by student)
Experiment Title : Soil Classification Test Part 3
Subject: UEMX2413 Soil Mechanics
Course: Civil Engineering
Name of Student: Sim Chia Onn
Student ID No: 1005150
Year and Semester: Y3S3







Received by:-
__________________
Lab Asst /Lab Officer
Date: _____________

Lecturer






Received by:-
__________________
Lab Asst /Lab Officer
Date:______________
Soil Classification Tests Part 3
Brief Introduction
Liquid limit is an empirically established moisture content at which a soil passes
from liquid state to the plastic state, while plastic limit is a moisture content at
which a soil passes from plastic to semi-solid state. Sometimes it is also referred
as Atterberg limits. The presence of water in fine-grained soils can significantly
affect associated engineering behaviour, so to clarify the effects, a reference
indexLiquid limit and Plastic limit is established. Both of the parameters provide
a means of classifying a soil.
The plasticity of soils is determined by using relatively simple remoulded
strength tests. The plastic limit is the moisture content of the soil under test when
remoulded and rolled between the tips of the fingers and a glass plate such that
longitudinal and transverse cracks appear at a rolled diameter of 3mm. At this
point the soil has a stiff consistency.
The liquid limit of a soil can be determined using the Cone Penetrometer
or the Casagrande apparatus (BS 1377:1990:part 2, clauses 4.3, 4.5).In the
Penetrometer test, the liquid limit of the soil is the moisture content at which an
80g, 300 cone sinks exactly 20 mm into a cup of remoulded soil in a 5s period. At
this moisture content the soil will bevery soft. When determining the liquid limit
with the Casagrande apparatus, the base of the cup is filled with soil and a
groove is then made through the soil to the base of the cup. The apparatus is
arranged to allow the metal cup to be raised repeatedly 10mm and dropped
freely on to its rubber base at a constant rate of two drops per second. The liquid
limit is the moisture content of a soil when 25 blows cause 13mm of closure of
the groove at the base of the cup. The liquid limit is generally determined by
mixing soils to consistencies just wet and dry of the liquid limit and determining
the liquid limit moisture content by interpolation between four points BS 1377:part
2:1990, clause 4.6 provides factors which allow the liquid limit to be determined
from one point (Clayton and Jukes 1978).
In this experiment we are adopting the Cone Penetrometer Method rather
than Casagrande Method due to the accuracy. The evidence is raised by a major
changes which introduced by the 1975 British Standard (BS 1377) was that the
preferred method of liquid limit testing became the Cone Penetrometer. This
preference is reinforced in the revised 1990 British Standard which refers to the
Cone Penetrometer as the definitive method. The Cone Penetrometer is
considered a more satisfactory method than the alternative because it is
essentially a static test which relies on the shear strength of the soil, whereas the
alternative Casagrande method introduces dynamic effects.
Objective
Determination of Liquid Limit and Plastic Limit through Cone Penetrometer
Method
Sample preparation
1) 500 g of air-dried soil is pulverised and passed the sieve size 425m.
2) 80 ml of water is added to the soil and mixed as thoroughly as possible.
Apparatus
A flat glass plate, of which a convenient size is 10mm thick and about 500
mm square, on which the soil is mixed.
Two palette knives or spatulas.
A Penetrometer as used in bituminous material testing complying to
BS2000: Part 49.
A cone of stainless steel or duralumin (see figure 1).
One or more metal cups
Apparatus for the moisture content determination of fine-graded soils.
A wash bottle or beaker, containing distilled water.
A metal straightedge about 100mm long
A stopclock or stopwatch readable to 1s.
Procedures for Liquid Limit
1) A sample of about 300g is taken from the soil paste prepared and placed
on the glass plate.
2) The prepared paste is mixed for at least 10 min using the two palette
knives. If necessary more distilled water is added so that the first cone
penetration reading is about 15mm.
3) A portion of the mixed soil is pushed into the cup with a palette knife
taking care not to trap air. Excess soil is struck off with the straightedge to
give a smooth level surface.
4) The penetration cone locked in the raised position and the supporting
assembly is lowered so that the tip of the cone just touches the surface of
the soil. When the cone is in the correct position a slight movement of the
cup will just mark the soil surface. The stem of the dial gauge is lowered to
contact the cone shaft and the reading of the dial gauge is recorded to the
nearest 0.1mm.
5) The cone is released for a period of 5 1s. Then, the cone is locked in
position and the stem of the dial gauge is lowered to contact the cone
shaft to record the reading of the dial gauge to the nearest 0.1mm. The
difference between the beginning and the end of the drop as the cone
penetration is recorded.
6) The cone is lifted up and cleaned carefully to avoid scratching.
7) A moisture content sample of about 10g is taken from the area penetrated
by the cone and the moisture content is determined.
8) Step 3 to 7 is repeated at least three more times with using the same
sample of soil to which further increment of distilled water have been
added. Proceeded from the drier to the wetter condition of the soil. The
amount of water added shall be such that a range of penetration values of
approximately 15mm to 25mm is covered by four or more test runs and is
evenly distributed. Each time soil is removed from the cup for the addition
of water, the cup is washed and dried.
9) At any time during the above procedure the soil has to be left for a while
on the glass plate, the soil is covered with evaporating dish or a damp
cloth to prevent the soil drying out.
Procedures for Plastic Limit
1) The plastic limit is the moisture content of the soil under test when
remoulded and rolled between the tips of the fingers and a glass plate
such that longitudinal and transverse cracks appear at a rolled diameter of
3mm.
2) A sample of about 20g is taken from the soil paste prepared and placed
on the glass plate.
3) The prepared paste is thoroughly mixed with water until the soil becomes
plastic enough to be shaped into a ball
4) Approximately 8g-12g of the moistened soil is taken and formed into a
uniform mass roughly elliptical in shape.
5) The ball of soil is rolled by tips of the fingers on the glass plate with just
enough pressure to form an elongated thread as rolling proceeds.
6) If the soil can be rolled to a thread 3 mm thick without crumbling, amassed
it and re-rolled it.
7) Rolling and amassing is repeated until the soil crumbles under slight
pressure required for rolling and the thread is nearly 3mm before it
crumbled.
8) Gather portions of the crumbled soil and the moisture content of the soil is
recorded immediately.

Calculations and expression of results
Liquid Limit:
Penetration
(mm)
Mass of
dish
(g)
Masses of
wet soil
and dish
(g)
Masses of
dry soil
and dish
(g)
Mass of
water
(g)
Mass of
dry soil
(g)
Moisture
Content
(%)
16.0 34.2 50.0 45.7 4.3 11.5 37.39
17.9 35.6 51.9 47.3 4.6 11.7 39.32
21.4 34.1 52.5 47.0 5.5 12.9 42.64
23.4 34.5 63.1 54.3 8.8 19.8 44.44
Table 1: The moisture contents of the soil specimen for each penetration
values
Sample Calculation for Penetration 21.4mm:
Mass of water = Masses of wet soil and dish Masses of dry soil and dish
= 52.5g 47.0g
= 5.5g
Mass of dry soil = Masses of dry soil and dish Mass of dish
= 47.0g 34.1g
= 12.9g
Moisture Content = (Mass of water Mass of dry soil) 100%
= (5.5g 12.9g) 100%
= 42.64%

















Liquid limit, LI = 39.80%
Plastic Limit: (There are 3 thread of soil specimens placed in same dish)
Mass
of dish
(g)
Mass of 3 wet
soil specimens
and dish
(g)
Mass of 3 dry
soil specimens
and dish
(g)
Mass of
water
(g)
Mass of dry
soil
(g)
Average Moisture
Content
(%)
34.5 36.6 36.1 0.5 1.6 31.25
Table 2: The average moisture content of the soil threads with 3mm just
crumble
Plastic limit, PL = 31.25%
y = 0.4445x + 30.768
36.00
37.00
38.00
39.00
40.00
41.00
42.00
43.00
44.00
45.00
46.00
10.0
W
a
t
e
r

C
o
n
t
e
n
t

(
%
)

Penetration (mm)
Graph of Water Content (%) vs Penetration (mm)
15.0 20.0 30.0 25.0
Graph 1: The graph of water content (%) against penetration(mm) in logarithmic
scale

Plasticity Index:
Plasticity Index, PI = Liquid Limit, LL Plastic Limit, PL
= 39.80 31.25
= 8.55%

Questions
1) Classify the soil in accordance with British Soil Classification System (BSCS).
0.56% of soil finer than 0.06mm < 35% of soil finer than 0.06mm
COARSE SOILS
85.42% of soil finer than 2mm > 50% of soil finer than 2mm
SANDS
0.56% of soil finer than 0.06mm < 5% of soil finer than 0.06mm
Slightly silty or clayey SAND, S
Cu = 2.5, Cc = 0.9, out of the range of Well-graded sand criteria - Cu6,
1<Cc<3
Poor-graded, SP
Observed from the Sieve Analysis Graph: Narrow range, smooth curve
Uniform-graded, SPu
Overall: This soil sample prepared is classified as Uniform poor-graded SAND
with slightly silty or clayey, SPu in accordance with BSCS.
2) During the hydrometer test, it is not recommended to leave the hydrometer in
the sedimentation cylinder throughout the test. Why?
During the sedimentation test, leaving the hydrometer in the suspension
longer than 20s will causing a disturbance on the falling soil particles as they
will be settle out on the hydrometers shoulder.

3) In practice, it is very common to observe a big gap in the grading curve when
we combine the results obtained from both hydrometer test and mechanical
sieve. Why?

In hydrometer analysis for soil grain size distribution, usually, the grains
passing sieve No. 200 (<0.074 mm) are used. However, the hydrometer
results occasionally give diameters greater than 0.074 mm. This event causes
a mismatch in the curve of grain size distribution obtained from sieving and
hydrometer methods.

This is because soil particles are generally irregular in shape. Sieve
analysis gives the intermediate dimension of a particle; while the hydrometer
method is based on Stokes Equation for the velocity of a freely failing sphere:
the definition of particle diameter of a sphere of the same density falls at the
same velocity as the particle in equation.

It is known that most soil particles are comprised of flaky shapes,
principally in case of fine soils. Also, the soil particles are not exactly equal in
density. Moreover, there are many other factors affecting the accuracy of the
hydrometer results.

Therefore, when the results of sieve analysis and hydrometer analysis are
combined, a discontinuity generally occurs in the range where they overlap.

4) What is the importance of liquid limit and plastic limit in soil classification?

The Plastic limit and Liquid limit of a soil are widely used as an integral part of
several engineering classification systems to characterize fine-grained soils.
These classification systems characterize fine-grained soils into groups on the
basis of their position on the Casagrandes plasticity chart (Casagrande 1948)
(Figure 1) and A-line chart. A wide variety of engineering properties of soils
have also been correlated to the liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of
soils (i.e. Compressibility, Permeability, and Strength).

In addition, these limits are used directly in specifications for controlling
soil for use in fills, and in semi-empirical methods of design. They are used to
determine the suitability of wet cohesive fill for use in earthworks, and to
determine the thickness of sub-base required beneath highway pavements
(Road Research Laboratory 1970). The results of wrong decisions in the latter
two cases are likely to be much more serious than in the former case;
Moreover, it is too important in civil engineering awareness of soil science for
seismic mitigation of structure placed on soil foundation consists of soft soil.



Figure 1: Casagrande plot showing classification of soils into groups
Discussion
After the penetration values are obtained, the moisture content sample of about
10g is taken from the area penetrated by the cone and placed in a dish. The
masses of dish and masses of dish with each wet soil sample are recorded. They
are then placed in oven at least 1 day to obtain the masses of dish with dry soil
sample after all the moisture in the soil had evaporated. And same goes to the
soil samples for plastic limit test. These data is used to calculate the moisture
content in the soil sample.
For liquid limit test, the penetration values are plotted against the moisture
content. By drawing a best fit line in accordance the graph data, the liquid limit is
defined as the moisture content of the soil sample when penetration is 20mm,
which is 39.8%.
For plastic limit test, 3 thread of soil samples which crumbled at a
diameter near to 3mm is placed in the dish for determine the average moisture
content, which is 31.25%. The plasticity index is thus 8.55%.
Through out 3 part of the soil classification lab experiment, the soil sample
prepared is classified as SPu, Poorly uniformed-graded SAND with slightly silty
or clayey in accordance to British Soil Classification System.
In the terms of accuracy, Atterberg limit is quite unreliable since the test
methods often give a wide range of error. When considering the plastic limit test,
amount of finger pressure used and the shape of the tips of fingers varies to a
great extent and, in addition, operators frequently do not carry out the test using
the tips of the fingers (as specified in the British Standard) since these are
eminently unsuited to the task. For liquid limit test, the majority of error is was
due to operator technique. Operator technique can affect this test, particularly
since it has been observed that long resting periods, after initially mixing the soil
approximately to its liquid limit stage and before carrying out the test, tend to give
higher results. (BS 1377:part 2 1990, clause 4.3 Note Three attempts to eliminate
this effect by specifying a 24 h rest period between initial mixing of the soil with
water, and carrying out the liquid limit test.) The requirement that each part of the
test must be repeatable within fixed limits (if observed) however, leads to a much
improved result.
Plastic limit and liquid limit is very important to the soil classification, the
reason is stated in the QUESTION 4. The extensive use of plasticity testing can
be most rewarding, however the low levels of accuracy coupled with high cost
tend to discourage use. At the present time liquid and plastic limit tests carried
out to the British Standard in the preferred manner will normally take 4872h to
complete, allowing only for resting periods after mixing, and for oven-drying. The
result of attempts to improve reproducibility has been a complexity of procedure
which has increased expenses.
Conclusion
Through Cone Penetrometer method, the liquid limit of the soil sample prepared
is determined as 39.80% while the plastic limit is 31.25%. The plasticity index of
the soil sample is therefore 8.55%.