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Soil Mechanics-1: Properties of Soil

Prepared by: Engr. Billy I. Rejuso


Soils are formed by the breaking down of rocks, soil and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with
the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters which is called weathering. The physical properties of soil are dictated primarily by the
minerals that constitute the soil particle and the rock from which it is derived.
Physical Properties of Soil

Unit weight of substance , s =G w


Weight of Water , W w = w V w
Weight of Substance ,W s= s V s=G w V s
Specific Gravity of substance , G s=

subs
w

Void Ratio, e
Ratio between the volumes of voids to the volume of solids of a soil mass.

e=

Vv
Vs

Porosity, n
Ratio between the volumes of voids to the total volume of a soil mass.

n=

Vv
V

Degree of Saturation, S
The ratio of the volume of water in the void spaces to the volume of voids, generally expressed in percentage.

S=

Vw
x 100
Vv

For saturated soils the degree of saturation is 100% and for complete dry soil is 0%.
Water Content or Moisture Content, MC or w
The ratio of weight of water to the weight of the solid particles.

MCw=

Ww
x 100
Ws

Relationship between Specific Gravity, moisture content, degree of saturation and void ratio

G x MC=S x e
Unit weight of soil mass or bulk unit weight, m

m=

W
V

m=

G+Se

1+e w

m=

G+GMC
w
1+e

Submerged or buoyant unit weight, b or

b= sat w
b=

G1

1+e w

Other formulas

V v=

e
V
1+e

V s=

V
1+e

V w=

Se
V
1+e

W w=
W s=

Se
V w
1+e

1
V Gm w
1+ e

W=

G+ Se
V w
1+e

d=

m
1+ MC

Critical Hydraulic Gradient, icr


Critical hydraulic gradient is the hydraulic gradient that brings a soil mass (essentially, coarse-grained soils) to static
liquefaction (quick condition).

i cr =

b G1
=
w 1+e

Relative density of granular soils, Dr


In granular soils, the degree of compaction in the field can be measured according to the relative density which
expresses the state of compactness of a natural granular soil.

Dr ( )=

e max e
x 100
e maxemin
1

Dr ( )=

dmin
1

dmin

1
d
1

dmax

Consistency
Consistency is the term used to describe the degree of firmness of a soil. The consistency of a cohesive soil is greatly
affected by the water content of the soil. A gradual increase of the water content may transform a dry soil from solid
state to a semisolid state, to a plastic state, and after further moisture increase, into a liquid state. The water content at
the corresponding junction points of these states are known as the shrinkage limit, plastic limit and liquid limit. These
limits are referred to as Attenberg Limits.

Plasticity , PI =PL
Liquidity , LI =

MCPL
PI

Shrinkage , SI =PLSL

Activity of clay , Ac=

PI

Where = percent of soil finer than 0.002mm (clay size)


When Ac < 0.7; Inactive clay
When 0.7<Ac,<1.2; Normal clay
When Ac>1.2; Active clay
Shrinkage Limit, SL
Shrinkage limit is the moisture content at which the soil does not undergo any further change in volume with loss of
moisture.

SL=

m1m2 v 1v 2

w
m2
m2

Shrinkage Ratio, SR

SR=

1 m2
w v 2

Specific Gravity of Solids, G

G=

1
1
SL

SR 100

Liquidity Index, LI
It is defined as the relative consistency of a cohesive soil in the natural state.

LI =

MC PL
PL

Consistency Index, CI

CI =

MC
PI

Sample Problems:
1. A clay sample has unit weight of 21.1kN/m 3 at moisture content of 9.8%. When completely saturated with water, its unit
weight is 22.58kN/m3. Determine the porosity of the soil.

2.
3.

4.
5.

The mass of a sample of saturated soil is 520 grams. The dry mass, after oven drying is 405 grams. Assuming G=2.7,
calculate the effective unit weight of the soil mass.
Laboratory tests on a soil sample yielded the following information:
G=2.71
MC=13%
Gm=1.72
Determine the void ratio, degree of saturation and porosity.
A cubic meter of soil in its natural state weighs 17.5kN. After oven-drying, the soil weighs 14.2kN. Assume G=2.7.
Calculate the void ratio, degree of saturation and saturated unit weight of the soil.
A sample of moist sand taken from the field was found to have a moisture content of 14% and a porosity of 38%. In a
laboratory test that simulates field conditions, it was found that at its densest state, its void ratio is 85% and at its
loosest state its void ratio is 40%. Determine the relative density of the sand.