You are on page 1of 30

Soil Mechanics I

CE - 222

Lecture 6

Soil Plasticity Atterberg Limits


Asif Riaz

SCEE
NUST, Sector H-12, Islamabad
Off : +92-51-90854008
Email: asifriaz@scee.nust.edu.pk

Special Instructions

No mercy on low attendance

No Cross Talking
among students during lecture

No Mobile Phone during Class

Course outline
Sections Covered/Reading Assignment

Lecture
No

Introduction

Soil Formation and Nature of Soil constituents

Assignment-1

Mechanical Analysis of Soil (sieve analysis & hydrometer analysis)

Quiz -1

Clay Soil Formation

Phase Relationships (Weight-Volume relationship)

Assignment-2

Soil Plasticity

Quiz -2

Soil Plasticity (Specific Gravity)


OHT - 1

Soil Classification systems

Soil Compaction: Introduction, theory, and lab tests

Quiz -3

10

Soil Compaction: Field Density Determination

Assignment-3

11

Soil Permeability

Quiz -4

12

Seepage and Flow Nets


OHT - 2

13

Seepage Examples

14

In-Situ Stresses

15

Stresses in Soil
End Semester Exam

Assignment-4

Classification of fine-grained soils


The Unified Soil Classification System uses the term
fines to describe everything that passes through a
No. 200 sieve (<0.075 mm).
No attempt to distinguish between silts and clays in
terms of particles sizes since the biggest difference
between silt and clay is not their particle sizes, but
their physical and chemical structures.
The soil consistency is used as a practical and an
inexpensive way to distinguish between silts and
clays.
Plasticity property is important because it describes
the response of a soil to change in moisture content.

Plasticity
Water Content significantly affects properties of Silty
and Clayey soils (unlike sand and gravel).
Strength decreases as water content increases
Soils swell-up when water content increases
Fine-grained soils at very high water content possess
properties similar to liquids
As the water content is reduced, the volume of the soil
decreases and the soils become plastic

If the water content is further reduced, the soil becomes


semi-solid when the volume does not change

Attreberg Limits
Atterberg limits are important to describe the
consistency of fine-grained soils.

The knowledge of the soil consistency is important in


defining or classifying a soil type or predicting soil
performance when used as a construction material.
A fine-grained soil usually exists with its particles
surrounded by water.
The amount of water in the soil determines its state
or consistency.
Four states are used to describe the soil consistency;
solid, semi-solid, plastic and liquid.

Attreberg Limits

Volume, v or e

Wetting

Semi
Solid

Solid
Solid
State

Plastic

Liquid

S = 100 %

vf

SL

PL

LL

PI

Drying

Water content, w %

Attreberg Limits

Consistency Limits of Soil

Increasing water
content

Fluid soil-water
mixture

Dry Soil

Liquid State
Liquid Limit, LL
Plastic State

Plastic Limit, PL
Semisolid State
Shrinkage Limit, SL
Solid State

Atterberg Limits
Shrinkage Limit (SL) is defined as the moisture content at
which no further volume change occurs with further
reduction in moisture content (SL represents the amount of
water required to fully saturate the soil, i.e., S = 100%).
Plastic Limit (PL) is defined as the moisture content at
which soil begins to behave as a plastic material.
Liquid Limit (LL) is defined as the moisture content at
which soil begins to behave as a liquid material and begins
to flow (LL of a fine-grained soil gives the moisture content
at which the shear strength of the soil is approximately
2.5kN/m2).

Liquid Limit (LL)


In the lab, the LL is defined as the moisture content
(%) required to close a 2-mm wide groove in a soil
pat a distance of 0.5 in along the bottom of the
groove after 25 blows.
Standard: ASTM D 4318.

Soil sample size: 150g passing No. 40 sieve.


Equipment: Casagrande liquid limit device.

10

Casagrande Apparatus

Before Test

11

After Test

12

Liquid Limit (Procedure)


150g air dry soil passing No. 40 sieve.
Add 20% of water - mix thoroughly.

Place a small sample of soil in LL device (deepest part about 810 mm).
Cut a groove (2mm at the base).

Run the device, count the number of blows, N.


Stop when the groove in the soil close through a distance of
0.5 inch.
Take a sample and find the moisture content.
Run the test three times [N~(10-20), N~(20-30) and N~(3545)] and Plot number of blows vs moisture content and
determine the liquid limit (LL) (moisture content at 25 blows)

13

Liquid Limit
Flow Curve

50

Water content (%)

14

48
y = -7.55Ln(x) + 70.69
46.39
46

25
44
1

10
Number of drops

100

PI, %

LL values <16% (not realistic)

16

Liquid Limit, %

15

PI, %

LL values 50 (high)

16

Liquid Limit, %

50

PI, %

LL values <50% (Low)

Liquid Limit, %

50

17

Plastic Limit

18

The moisture content (%) at which the soil when rolled into
threads of 3.2mm (1/8 in) in diameter, will crumble.
Plastic limit is the lower limit of the plastic stage of soil. It is
the dividing line between the plastic and semisolid states.
Fluid soil-water
mixture

Liquid State

Increasing water content

Liquid Limit, LL
Plastic State
Plastic Limit, PL
Semisolid State
Shrinkage Limit, SL
Dry Soil

Solid State

Plastic Limit

19

Plastic Limit (Procedure)


Take 20g of soil passing No. 40 sieve into a dish.
Add water and mix thoroughly.
Prepare several ellipsoidal-shaped soil masses by
quizzing the soil with your hand.
Put the soil in rolling device, and roll the soil until the
thread reaches 1/8 inch.
Continue rolling until the thread crumbles into
several pieces.

Determine the moisture content of about 6g of the


crumbled soil.

20

Plasticity Index & Consistency Index


Plasticity Index is the difference between the liquid
limit and plastic limit of a soil

PI = LL PL

Consistency Index (CI)


CI =

LL - w
LL PI

Conditions for Maximum and Minimum CI ????

21

Activity

22

Soil type

Activity, A

Inactive clays

A < 0.75

Normal clays

0.75 < A < 1.25

Active clays

A >1.25

Properties of Active Clays


When Wet = Large Volume Change
When Dry = Large Shrinkage
Very Reactive (Chemically)

Activity Values of different Soils

23

Plasticity Index

Plasticity Chart

Liquid Limit

24

Plastic soils
Plastic soils
plot above the
A-Line on a
Plasticity Chart

25

A-Line

Non-Plastic Soils

Non-plastic or
slightly plastic
soils plot below
the A-Line on a
Plasticity Chart

26

A-Line

U-Line significance

27

U-Line

Correct tests
never plot
above U-line
and LL values
are never < 16
A-Line

16

Plasticity Chart
High plasticity/compressibility

Medium plasticity/
compressibility
Low plasticity/
compressibility

29

Plasticity Chart

30

Cohesionless soil

Organic clays

Silt

Shrinkage Limit Calculations

31