2010, GEOtrendz
December 1618, 2010
IGS Mumbai Chapter & IIT Bombay
1. INTRODUCTION
To estimate the possible behavior of foundations of
structures under loading, a geotechnical engineer needs
the results of a large number of tests conducted in the field
and laboratory. Detailed testing is expensive, time
consuming and not always possible. Over the years, a large
number of correlations have been developed by various
researchers giving correlations of various index and
engineering properties. However one needs to refer many
books to access these correlations, which is a time
consuming task. To make this exercise easy and speedy, a
spreadsheet has been developed in excel, which is presented
here.
2. UTILISATION OF MICROSOFT EXCEL FOR
DEVELOPING CORRELATION SPREAD
SHEETS
Microsoft Excel is an application that helps us to create
intricate and dynamic spreadsheets. This robust application
can be used to enter numerical values or data into the rows
or columns of a spreadsheet, and to use these numerical
entries for such things as calculations, graphs, and
statistical analysis. Microsoft Excel has the basic features
of all spreadsheets, using a grid of cells arranged in
numbered rows and letternamed columns to organize data
manipulations like arithmetic operations. It has a number
of supplied functions to answer statistical, engineering and
financial needs. It has a variety of interactive features
allowing user interfaces that can completely hide the
spreadsheet from the user, so the spreadsheet presents itself
as a socalled application, or decision support system (DSS),
via a customdesigned user interface. Like some other
spreadsheet applications, Microsoft Excel supports charts,
graphs or histograms generated from specified groups of
cells. The generated graphic component either can be
embedded within the current sheet, or added as a separate
object. Curve fitting is the process of constructing a curve,
or mathematical function that has the best fit to a series of
data points, possibly subject to constraints. Excel will allow
us to find the equation for a curve that fits our data. The
curve may be a line, quadratic, polynomial or several other
types of functions.
3. ORGANISATION OF THE SPREAD SHEETS
The excel sheet has been developed to facilitate easy
calculations of the correlated values between various soil
properties. There are four input sheets for entering the values
which are known from experimental results. The first input
sheet INPUTSHEET1 is for entering the test results of
index properties of the soil. The second input sheet
INPUTSHEET2 is prepared for entering the engineering
properties of the soil. The third input sheet
INPUTSHEET3 is meant for field test results. The fourth
sheet INPUTSHEET4 is designed for input of results
1114 S.J. Shah, P. Abdurahiman and S.H. Shah
from empirical laboratory tests. All the INPUT SHEETS
contain ranges and units of all properties which are to be
entered.
The next part FITTING OF EQNS is the sheet
where curve fitting has been done. To find the equations
for correlations of properties from various graphs and tables,
curves are plotted. Then using add trend lines option in
EXCEL, best fitting curve is drawn and its equation is
obtained. In each case, curves have been developed such
that correlations can be obtained either way. This has been
done so that one can check for any contradiction between
results of different interrelated properties. All available
correlations for each property have been fitted.
These equations which relate properties of soil are used
for correlation of the input values with other properties. In
the next sheet named CALCULATION SHEET,
calculations are done using the input values entered in the
different input sheets. Using the equations developed in
FITTING OF EQNS, properties related to these input
values are obtained in this sheet using arithmetical functions
of EXCEL.
In the next sheet named CORRELATIONS, the
entered properties and calculated properties are correlated
using logical functions and the equations which have been
developed as mentioned earlier. Cells containing the entered
values in the input sheets and calculated values in the
calculation sheet are linked to different cells in this sheet.
The results displayed in this sheet give all the possible
correlations for the entered properties.
4. CORRELATION OF INDEX PROPERTIES
WITH OTHER PROPERTIES
Index properties are the observable physical characteristics
with significant influence on a soils behaviour. They are
Grain Size, Bulk Density(), Saturated Density(
sat
), Soil
Consistency, Relative Density D
r
(Density Index), Moisture
Content(w), Specific Gravity(G), Porosity(n), Void Ratio(e).
Table 1 shows INPUT sheet. Index properties are used for
soil classification, estimation of other properties etc. Some
examples are given here.
Automatic Classification of Soil Based on Plasticity
Chart
The plasticity chart gives classification of clay and silt
provided plasticity index and liquid limit are known. Once
the Atterberg limits are entered in the INPUTSHEET1 of
developed spreadsheet, the plasticity index is calculated in
CALCULATION sheet and compared with the value
obtained from Aline. Again based on the liquid limit value,
and using IF, AND condition statement in recursive manner,
it checks whether the liquid of the given soil is less than
35 (meaning low compressible), or between 35 and 50
(medium compressible) or greater than 50 (highly
compressible). Then, if PI value of the soil is greater than
A line value, then it is decided whether it is inorganic or
organic clay or whether it is silt. Then, the
CORRELATIONS sheet combines the two results and
directly gives the type of soil as for example, organic clay
of high plasticity.
Correlation of Liquid Limit (LL) with Coefficient of
Consolidation (Cv)
Using the relation between LL and Cv values given by
Gulhati & Datta (2005), a plot was made (Fig. 1). Using
regression analysis, a power equation was fitted so as to
obtain a best fit curve with regression coefficient 0.99 (Fig.
3). Using this fitted equation, the CALCULATION sheet
computes Cv using the input value of LL, and the
CORRELATIONS sheet gives Cv value to the user.
Other Correlations Implemented
Using the arithmeticlogic functions available in EXCEL,
other correlations such as between plasticity index and angle
of internal friction (Coduto & Donald 2006), unit weight
and angle of internal friction (Venkatramaiah 2006),
Consistency index and unconfined compressive strength
(Arora 2008) etc. were fitted. The CORRELATIONS sheet
gives the values corresponding to the input values using
the fitted equations and arithmeticlogical conditions. For
the computed condition, the values from equations or the
appropriate stored result key words are printed.
Fig. 1: Actual Relation and Fitted Equation Between Cv and
Liquid Limit
Table 1: Input Sheet1 for Entering Index Properties of Soil
Properties LL PL SL Grain Size G
sat
D
r
e n S w
Ranges and
units
>0 >0 >0 mm
2.58

2.75
>0
025
(kN/m
3
)
>0
025
(kN/m
3
)
3100 >0 0 1 <=1 >0
Input
Development of Spreadsheet for Correlation of Soil Properties 1115
5. CORRELATION OF ENGINEERING
PROPERTIES WITH OTHER PROPERTIES
Engineering properties determines engineering behaviour
of soil. Engineering properties of soil depend on a number
of factors and it is not possible to characterize them by two
or three parameters. Elaborate testing is required to
determine the characteristics of the soil before design can
be done. They are Cohesion(c), Friction(f), Coefficient of
Permeability(k), Capillarity, Coefficient of Consolidation
(Cv) , Compression Index (Cc),
Compressibility, Modulus of Elasticity(E
s
), Shear
Modulus(G), Poissons ratio(u). Input sheet for engineering
properties is shown in Table 2.
Modulus of Elasticity (E
S
) and type of soil
Table 3 indicates corresponding E
S
values for clays of
various consistencies and for sands of different relative
densities (adopted from Bowles, 1997). On entering the E
S
value (say 3000), the CORRELATIONS sheet gives all
the possible types of soil (very soft/soft clay or silty/dense
sand) with its state (consistency or D
r
) as in the table 3.
Table 3: Range of Values of Elastic Modulus (E
s
) for Selected
Soils
IF Clay is THEN E
s
(kN/m
2
)
Very soft 2000 to 15000
Soft 5000 to 25000
Medium 15000 to 50000
Hard 50000 to 100000
IF Sand is THEN E
s
Silty 5000 to 20000
Loose 10000 to 25000
Dense 5000 to 81000
Consistency of Clay Based on Cohesion Value
Knowing the characteristics of clay is necessary for the
designer to get a physical feeling of the strength. To
convenience this, the spreadsheet checks the input value
of cohesion using IF statement and whichever range it falls
in, the corresponding consistency and physical
characteristic gets printed in the output sheet. Table 4 gives
the condition relation between cohesion value, consistency
and characteristics of the soil which will be printed in the
CORRELATIONS Sheet. Data from Arora (2008) has
been adapted for developing the relations.
Other Correlations Implemented
Correlation equations between Permeability constant and
soil type, unit weight, suitable method of compaction,
suitability as embankment material and degree of
permeability based on Jha & Sinha (2001) and Arora (2008)
are builtin. Other relations such as between and plasticity
index (Coduto & Donald 2006), angle of internal friction
and unit weight (Venkatramaiah 2006), etc. are also
developed. On entering a particular value of capillary rise
in the INPUT SHEET2, one can also obtain the appropriate
type of soil which will give that value of rise. This will be
useful in choosing soil type for providing drainage cutoff
layers.
Table 4: Cohesion, Consistency and Clay Characteristics
THEN Cohesion c
(kN/m
3
)
Consistency Characteristics of soil
IF c<12 Very soft Fist can be pressed into soil
IF c>12
AND<=25
Soft
Thumb can be pressed into
soil
IF c>25
AND<=50
Medium
(firm)
Thumb can be pressed with
pressure
IF c>50
AND
c<=100
Stiff
Thumb can be pressed with
great difficulty
IF c>100
AND
<=200
Very stiff
The soil can be readily
intended with thumb nail
IF c>200 Hard
The soil can be intended
with difficulty by thumb nail
6. CORRELATION OF FIELD AND
LABORATORY TESTS
Empirical tests like Dynamic Cone Penetration Test
(DCPT), Standard Penetration Test (SPT), California
Bearing Ratio (CBR), Modulus of Subgrade reaction (K)
etc are very common in Geotechnical Engineering practice.
Their widespread use has led to the development of various
correlations which allow one to estimate the engineering
properties of the tested soil. Input sheet for the above is
illustrated in Table 5.
Properties c Cv Cc k Es G
Capillary
Rise
Ranges and
Units
>0 (mm) 090
>0
(m
2
/day)
>0
1x10
6
1000
(mm/s)
1500
200000
(KN/m
2
)
9>70
(KN/m
3
)
0.1 0.5
0 30
(m)
Input
Table 2: Input Sheet 2 for Entering Engg. Properties of Soil
1116 S.J. Shah, P. Abdurahiman and S.H. Shah
Table 5: Input Sheet 3 and 4 for Field and Laboratory Tests
Properties DCPT N SPT N K CBR
Ranges and
Units
050 050
025
(kg/cm
3
)
>0
Input
Standard Penetration Test N value with , , , , D
r
and
The N value has correlations with , D
r
and for fine,
medium and coarse sand (Table 6). The spread sheet checks
an input N for its range with the values of the table and
gives corresponding , , D
r
, with description of relative
density condition for the three conditions of fine, medium
and coarse sand. Data from Bowles (1997) has been utilized
for developing the logical cum numerical equations.
Table 6: SPT N Values for Fine, Medium and Coarse Sands
Conditionally Related to , D
r
and
Description
Very
loose
Loose Me d i u m Dens e
Very
Dense
IF N:fine 12 36 715 1630 
IF
N:medium
23 47 820 2140 >40
IF N:coarse 36 59 1025 2645 >45
THEN
: fine 2628 2830 3034 3338 
: medium 2728 3032 3236 3642 <50
: coarse 2830 3034 3340 4050 
, kN/m
3
1116 1418 1720 1722 2023
Relative
density D
r
0 0.15 0.35 0.65 0.85
On similar lines the spread sheet has been developed
for giving c, , and consistency condition of clay from the
N value. Safe Bearing Pressure is also obtained in the
CORRELATIONS sheet using the formula 11N kN/m
2
for
general preliminary design.
Modulus of Subgrade Reaction (K) and CBR
CBR is a very common and easy test, while determination
of K is very expensive, time taking and requires a lot of
effort. IRC 58:2001 gives a correlation of CBR and K(kg/
cm
3
) value. This has been fitted into an equation Eq. (1) so
as to obtain K value. On entering CBR value, the result
sheet gives K values using this equation. It is also possible
to find the CBR value if the K value is input in the
spreadsheet using the equation Eq. (2)
K= 0.0007(CBR^2) + 0.2635(CBR) + 2.3846 (1)
CBR = 0.0955(K
2
) + 2.6805(K) 6.021 (2)
Other Correlations Implemented
The correlations between Cone Penetration test and c values
have also been implemented in the spreadsheet. Using the
representative values of K for various types of soil reported
by Bowles (1997), the output for an entered value of K also
gives possible soil type and corresponding consistency or
relative density.
7. CONCLUSIONS
The correlations of various index and engineering soil
properties as well as empirical tests reported by various
researchers have been fitted into equations in a spreadsheet.
Using arithmeticlogic functions in MICROSOFT EXCEL,
conditional equations also have been framed so as to obtain
correlated values of various soil properties corresponding
to input values of properties.
The spreadsheet will provide an effortless means for
the practicing engineers to understand index and
engineering properties of soils, their physical significance
and help in a better understanding of soil behavior.
REFERENCES
Arora, K.R. (2008) Soil Mechanics and Foundation
Engineering, Standard Publishers and Distributors, New
Delhi, India.
Bowles, J.E. (1997) Foundation Analysis and Design,
McGrawHill International editions, New York.
Coduto, D.P. (2006) Geotechnical Engineering Principles
and Practices, PrenticeHall of India Pvt. Ltd., New
Delhi, India.
Gulhati, S.K. and Datta, M. (2005) Geotechnical
Engineering, The McGrawHill Companies Ltd., New
Delhi, India.
IRC:58 (2002) Guidelines for the Design of Plain Jointed
Rigid Pavements for Highways (Second Revision),
Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi, India.
Jha. J. and Sinha, S. K. (2001) Construction and
Foundation Engineering, Khanna Publishers, New
Delhi, India.
Venkatramaiah, C. (2006) Geotechnical Engineering, New
Age International Publishers, New Delhi, India.