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1 AS 1289.5.4.

12007

Australian Standard
Methods of testing soils for engineering purposes
AS 1289.5.4.12007

Method 5.4.1: Soil compaction and density


testsCompaction control testDry density
ratio, moisture variation and moisture ratio

1 SCOPE
This Standard sets out the method for determining the dry density ratio, moisture variation
from optimum moisture content and moisture ratio of a soil at a test site. It is applicable to
material that contains not more than 20% of material, on a wet basis, retained on the
37.5 mm sieve.

2 NORMATIVE REFERENCES
The following referenced documents are indispensable for the application of this document:
AS
1289 Methods of testing soils for engineering purposes
1289.2.1.1 Method 2.1.1: Soil moisture content testsDetermination of the moisture
content of a soilOven drying method (standard method)
1289.2.1.2 Method 2.1.2: Soil moisture content testsDetermination of the moisture
content of a soilSand bath method (subsidiary method)
1289.2.1.4 Method 2.1.4: Soil moisture content testsDetermination of the moisture
content of a soilMicrowave-oven drying method (subsidiary
method)
1289.2.1.5 Method 2.1.5: Soil moisture content testsDetermination of the moisture
content of a soilInfrared lights method (subsidiary method)
1289.2.1.6 Method 2.1.6: Soil moisture content testsDetermination of the moisture
content of a soilHotplate drying method
1289.2.3.1 Method 2.3.1: Soil moisture content testsEstablishment of correlation
Subsidiary method and the standard method
1289.3.5.1 Method 3.5.1: Soils classification testsDetermination of the soil particle
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density of a soilStandard method


1289.5.1.1 Method 5.1.1: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of the dry
density/moisture content relation of a soil using standard
compactive effort
1289.5.2.1 Method 5.2.1: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of the dry
density/moisture content relation of a soil using modified
compactive effort
1289.5.3.1 Method 5.3.1: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of the field
density of a soilSand replacement method using a sand-cone
pouring apparatus
1289.5.3.2 Method 5.3.2: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of the field
density of a soilSand replacement method using a sand
pouring can with or without a volume displacer
1289.5.3.5 Method 5.3.5: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of the field
dry density of a soilWater replacement method

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AS 1289.5.4.12007 2

AS
1289.5.4.2 Method 5.4.2: Soil compaction and density testsCompaction control test
Assignment of maximum dry density and optimum moisture
content values
1289.5.8.1 Method 5.8.1: Soil compaction and density testsDetermination of field
density and field moisture content of a soil using a nuclear
surface moisture-density gaugeDirect transmission mode

3 APPARATUS
Where oversize material is present, the following apparatus is required:
(a) Balance with limit of performance not exceeding 5g.
(b) Device for measuring volume of oversize, comprising
(i) calibrated volumetric cylinder capable of measuring the volume to at least the
nearest 5 mL;
(ii) syphon can and measuring cylinder to measure water displaced to at least the
nearest 5 mL; or
(iii) wire basket as described in AS 1289.3.5.1.

4 PROCEDURE
The procedure for each test site shall be as follows:
(a) Determine the field wet density of the soil () by one of the methods described in
AS 1289.5.3.1, AS 1289.5.3.2, AS 1289.5.3.5 or AS 1289.5.8.1, as appropriate. If
appropriate, when using a nuclear gauge, determine the field moisture content (w f ) of
the soil.
(b) Obtain a bulk sample of the soil of sufficient size to determine, as required, field
moisture content, maximum dry density, optimum moisture content and percentage
and volume of oversize material for the field density test location as follows (see
Notes):
(i) Sand replacement tests During the field density test, obtain the sample from
the field density test location. The material excavated from the field density test
hole will normally constitute the sample. If this is insufficient, additional
material may be obtained by enlarging the density hole laterally about equal to
the depth of the field density test hole. The sides of any excavation made to
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recover such material shall be reasonably vertical. Do not combine this


additional material with that taken from the field density test location until all
measurements to determine oversize, field moisture content and mass are
completed.
(ii) Nuclear gauge tests After completion of the field density test, obtain the
sample by excavating the hole to the depth at which the source rod was located
during the test. The hole shall be centred between the nuclear source and
detector of the nuclear gauge. If the material excavated is insufficient,
additional material may by obtained by enlarging the density hole laterally
about equal to the full depth of the hole. The sides of any excavation made to
recover such material shall be reasonably vertical.

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3 AS 1289.5.4.12007

(iii) Moisture variation and moisture ratio When moisture variation or moisture
ratio is critical, separate samples should be taken for field moisture content
tests to the full depth of the layer prior to obtaining samples for reference
density testing. The moisture samples should be prepared separately from the
reference density sample.
NOTES:
1 Samples to be collected, transported and stored in sealable containers.
2 Sampling of material prior to compaction is only valid when the job specification permits
this procedure. If oversize material is present in the material sampled prior to field
compaction, care should be exercised in the specification of the testing and acceptance
procedure.
3 A maximum dry density value should be determined for each field density determination,
unless values for maximum dry density and optimum moisture content have been assigned
in accordance with AS 1289.5.4.2.
(c) If oversize material is present, proceed as follows:
(i) Determine the mass (m 1) of the total material in the as sampled condition and
the wet mass of oversize material (m o).
(ii) Determine the volume (Vo) of the oversize material by methods such as
measurement of its displacement of water using a syphon can or a calibrated
volumetric measuring cylinder (see Notes).
(iii) Dry oversize material to constant mass and determine its mass (m od).
NOTES:
1 When sampling prior to field compaction is undertaken, the percentage of oversize
material and field moisture content are determined from the field density test location
after the completion of field compaction.
2 Highly porous material should be in a moist condition prior to the determination of its
volume, to minimize absorption of water into the material when placed in water. If the
oversize material is highly porous, care should be taken to ensure that the displacement of
water by oversize material is measured as soon as possible after the material is placed in
water. For highly porous material that contains a high proportion of voids, including
surface voids (e.g., scoria), there is no satisfactory method for determining the bulk
volume of the oversize material.
(d) If the field moisture content of the soil has not been determined using a nuclear
gauge, determine the field moisture content of a representative sample of that portion
of the soil that does not include oversize material (w p). This shall be carried out either
in accordance with AS 1289.2.1.1; or, one of the subsidiary methods AS 1289.2.1.2,
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AS 1289.2.1.4, AS 1289.2.1.5 or AS 1289.2.1.6, for which a correlation has been


determined in accordance with AS 1289.2.3.1.
NOTE: If a subsidiary method for determination of moisture content has been used, the
accuracy to which moisture content and values calculated from moisture content may be
reported will depend upon the established correlation using AS 1289.2.3.1.
(e) If values have not been assigned for maximum dry density and optimum moisture
content in accordance with AS 1289.5.4.2 for the soil being tested, determine the
maximum dry density ( dm ), and optimum moisture content (w o) of the material
sampled in Step (b) in accordance with AS 1289.5.1.1 or AS 1289.5.2.1.
NOTES:
1 Samples taken from stabilized material should be compacted within the time permitted in
the job specification for completion of compaction in the field.
2 When a field density site is subject to retest after additional working and field
compaction, the user should check that the adopted values for the material have not
changed due to further working.

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AS 1289.5.4.12007 4

5 CALCULATIONS
Calculation shall be as follows:
(a) If the field moisture content has been obtained using a nuclear gauge, calculate the
total dry mass of the material (m t) from the following equation:

mt =
(100 ml )
. . . 5(1)
(100 + wf )
where
m t = total dry mass of the sample, in grams
m l = total wet mass of the sample, in grams
w f = field moisture content of the material, in percent
(b) If the field moisture content has not been determined using a nuclear gauge:
(i) Calculate the total dry mass of material (m t) from the following equation:
100( ml mo )
m t = mod +
(100 + w )
p
. . . 5(2)

where
m t = total dry mass of the sample, in grams
m od = dry mass of oversize material, in grams
m l = total wet mass of the sample, in grams
m o = wet mass of oversize material, in grams
w p = moisture content of a representative sample of the sample without
oversize material, in percent
(ii) Calculate the field moisture content of the material (w f ), as applicable, from the
following equation:
100( ml m t )
wf = . . . 5(3)
(mt )
where
w f = field moisture content of the material, in percent
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m l = total wet mass of the sample, in grams


m t = total dry mass of the sample, in grams
(c) Calculate the field dry density ( d ) of the material if it has not been obtained using
the nuclear gauge, from the following equation:
100
d = . . . 5(4)
(100 + wf )
where
d = field dry density of the material, in tonnes per cubic metre
= field wet density of the material, in tonnes per cubic metre
w f = field moisture content of the material, in percent

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5 AS 1289.5.4.12007

(d) When required, calculate the percentage of oversize material on a dry basis (P od) from
the following equation:
100 mod
Pod = . . . 5(5)
mt
where
P od = percentage of material by mass retained on a 19.0 mm or 37.5 mm sieve,
as applicable, based on the dry mass of the total and oversize material
m od = dry mass of oversize material, in grams
mt = total dry mass of material, in grams
(e) When oversize material is present, calculate the adjusted maximum dry density and
adjusted optimum moisture content from the following equations:
100
r =
100 Po d Po d Vo . . . 5(6)
+
dm mo d

wo (100 Po d )
wr = . . . 5(7)
100
If oversize material is not present, use the following equation:
r = dm and wr = wo . . . 5(8)
where
r = adjusted maximum dry density, in tonnes per cubic metre
P od = percentage of material by mass retained on a 19.0 mm or 37.5 mm sieve,
as applicable, based on the dry mass of the total and oversize material
V o = volume of material retained on a 19.0 mm or 37.5 mm sieve, as
applicable, in cubic centimetres
dm = maximum dry density assigned or obtained in the laboratory compaction
test, in tonnes per cubic metre
m o = wet mass or oversize material, in grams
m od = dry mass of oversize material, in grams
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w r = adjusted optimum moisture content, in percent


w o = optimum moisture content assigned or obtained in the laboratory
compaction test, in percent
(f) As required, calculate the density ratio (R D) as a percentage, the moisture ratio (R m )
as a percentage and moisture variation (w) from the following equations:
100 d
RD = . . . 5(9)
r

100 wf
Rm = . . . 5(10)
wr

w = wr wf . . . 5(11)

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AS 1289.5.4.12007 6

where
R D = density ratio, in percent
d = field dry density of material, in tonnes per cubic metre
r = maximum dry density (adjusted for oversize material, when applicable)
assigned or determined in the compaction test (standard or modified), in
tonnes per cubic metre
R m = moisture ratio, in percent
w f = field moisture content, in percent
w r = optimum moisture content (adjusted for oversize material, when
applicable) assigned or determined in the compaction test (standard or
modified), in percent
w = moisture variation from optimum moisture content, in percent

6 TEST REPORT
The following shall be reported:
(a) The density ratio of the soil to the nearest 0.5%.
(b) The moisture ratio to the nearest 0.5%.
(c) The moisture variation from optimum moisture content to the nearest 0.5%, stating
whether the soil is dryer or wetter than the optimum moisture content.
(d) The maximum dry density and optimum moisture content, adjusted for oversize
material, if applicable, the compactive effort used and, when applicable, the reference
to report of assigned values for these properties, used for their determination.
(e) The percentage, on both dry and wet basis, to the nearest 1% of oversize material and
the sieve size on which the material was retained.
(f) Whether sampling prior to compaction for the determination of optimum moisture
content and maximum dry density was undertaken.
(g) Method used for the determination of field density and for field moisture content.
(h) Field density test location and, when necessary, elevation.
(i) Date of test, and time.
(j) Soil description, depth tested and, when known, thickness of the soil layer.
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(k) When stabilized materials have been used, the elapsed time between the addition of
the stabilizing agent and laboratory compaction.
(l) Reference to this method, i.e., AS 1289.5.4.1.

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NOTES
AS 1289.5.4.12007
AS 1289.5.4.12007 8

This Australian Standard was prepared by Committee CE-009, Testing of Soils for Engineering Purposes. It was approved on behalf of the
Council of Standards Australia on 20 June 2007 and published on .

The following are represented on Committee CE-009:


AUSTROADS
Association of Geotechnical Testing Authorities (QLD)
Australian Building Codes Board
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Australian Geomechanics Society
Australian Stabilisation Industry Association
Cement Concrete and Aggregates AustraliaAggregates
Department of Planning and Infrastructure (NT)
Engineering and Construction Laboratories Association
Engineers Australia
National Association of Testing Authorities Australia
University of Melbourne
University of Sydney

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Originated as AS 1289.5.4.11993.
Second edition 2007.

This Standard was issued in draft form for comment as DR 01091.

COPYRIGHT
Standards Australia
All rights are reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Standards Australia Limited
GPO Box 476, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia

ISBN 0 7337 8363 5 Printed in Australia


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