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De La Salle University

Civil Engineering Department

Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory 1

Lab Report
Experiment no. 3 and 4
Determining the liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soil

Submitted by:
Abigail Marie R. Lorico
Section EJ1

I. Objectives
To determine the liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of the soil. The
liquid and plastic limits are referred as the Atterberg Limit.

II. Data
Liquid Limit Determination:

Moisture can no. 1 2 3
Mass of empty can and lid (g) , M
25.94 35.01 34.62
Mass of can and moist soil (g), M
31.49 42.19 40.29
Mass of can and dry soil (g), M
30.27 40.36 38.27
Mass of Dry Soil (g), M
4.33 4.99 3.65
Mass of water (g), M
1.22 1.83 2.02
Water Content , w% 28.18 34.21 55.34
Number of Drops, (N) 51 16 9

From Flow Curve:
Flow Index = - 14.15
Liquid Limit = 35.673

Plastic Limit Determination:
Moisture can no.
4 5
Mass of empty can and lid (g) , M
27.13 34.52
Mass of can and moist soil (g), M
27.79 35.08
Mass of can and dry soil (g), M
27.62 34.97
Mass of Dry Soil (g), M
0.49 0.45
Mass of water (g), M
0.17 0.11
Water Content , w%
34.69 24.44

Plastic limit = 29.565
Plasticity index = 6.108

III. Computation and Graphs

1. For moisture content
W% =

Example at sample 1:
W% = =

= 28.18 %

2. From the excel graph the equation
of the line that best fits the data for
samples 1,2 and 3 is:

Y= - 14.15ln(x) + 81.22

Since the required number of blows
for soil closure is 25, the liquid limit
is located at the Y value intersecting

Y = - 14.15ln (25) + 81.2
Y = 35.673 = LL

3. Plastic Limit
PL =

= 29.565
4. Plasticity Index
= 35.673-29.565
= 6.108

y = -14.15ln(x) + 81.22
1 5 25 125



Number of Blows, N
Liquid Limit Chart
Water Content
Log. (Water Content)
IV. Discussions (must include observation of specimens and verification of test results)

Initially the test was conducted to show the properties of silty sand exposed in
different water contents. In this set up, we were able to observe a clay material
transforming from solid to semi-solid consistency. With low moisture content the
material acts like a solid while with high moisture content the material acts like a viscous
fluid. The plastic limit is the state where the soil is in between being semi-solid and
plastic afterwards, the state where the soil is between plastic and liquid. By subtracting
the two limits we were able to determine the range in which the soil acts plastic. Plastic
state is quite an important property of a material since, it is the where the material is able
to be deformed under stress and remains its form when not bare any stress.

During the liquid limit procedure we were too cautious on the amount of soil
sample to use for the testing since there is a specific height soil height in the brass cup.
The height of the soil cake must level 10 mm from the bottom of the cup. We had many
trials on this one. Once we used the grooving tool to divide the soil cake in the middle
small amounts comes off the cup. We repeated until we got a
nicely divided soil cake. Then, we observed how many blows it
took to close the two parts of soil together. As for the result, the
soil with more moisture content needs less number of blows for
closure. The first sample, the one with the lowest moisture
content, got the highest number of blows which 51.

The graph on part III justifies our observation. Sample 1 being with the largest
number of blows but low moisture content and sample 3 being with a smallest number of
numbers but the highest amount of moisture content. The graph already generated a
linear equation that was used to determine the liquid limit. Instead of determining the
slope of the line to get a y-value, we plugged in the 25 as x in the equation.

V. Conclusion

The liquid limit and plastic limit were determined through thorough procedures
and data calculation. The plasticity index was also known.

VI. Recommendation
To save time and prevent a number of trials for setting up the soil cake on the
brass cup, use a ruler to measure to right height. Level the soil evenly. After first plot
was done, sample 1 with first moisture content, the exceeding soil mixed in the dish can
be used by other member to perform the plastic limit test while the others are proceeding
with sample 2 on liquid limit test. To get best results the aim is to get a number of blows
greater than and less than 25. To do that, the moisture content maybe a little dry for
sample 1 and wet for sample 3.

VII. Reference

ASTM, 1998 Annual Book of ASTM Standards, West Conshohoocken, PA, 1998.
Copyright, American Society for Testing and Materials, 100 Barr Habor Drive, West
Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959. Reprinted with permission.

Joseph E. Bowles, Engineering Properties of Soils and Their Measurement, 2d ed.,
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1978.

K. Redd, EXPERIMENT 7 ATTERBERG LIMITS. Engineering Properties of Soils Based
on Laboratory Testing. Retrieved from: