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A RE-EVALUATION OF THE FILTER PAPER METHOD

OF MEASURING SOIL SUCTION

by

RIFAT BULUT, B.S.C.E.

A THESIS

IN

CIVIL ENGINEERING

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty


of Texas Tech University in
Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for
the Degree of
MASTER OF SCIENCE

IN

CIVIL ENGINEERING

Approved

August, 1996
Eos
I ^^^ ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
UhO 1^
would like to express my sincere and deep appreciation to Dr. Warren Kent Wra>
for his guidance, endless encouragement, and assistance throughout the course of this
study. I also wish to thank Dr. Priyantha W. Jayawickrama for his kindK consentmg to
serve on my thesis committee.
1 would sincerely like to thank Mr. Hsiu-Chung Lee for his wholehearted
cooperation during performing of the experiments and guidance. My sincere
appreciation to Mr. Brad Thomhill, Mario Torres, and Drex Little for their help in
providing equipment for the experiments.
Finally, 1 wish to thank my family and friends for their support and encouragement
throughout the whole study period.

n
TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii
ABSTRACT v
LIST OF TABLES vi
LIST OF FIGURES vii
CHAPTER
L INTRODUCTION 1
1.1 Problem Statement 1
1.2 Statement of Objectives 4
1.3 Research Approach 6
11. SEARCH OF THE TECHNICAL LITERATURE 7
2.1 Soil Suction Concept 7
2.2 The Filter Paper Method 14
2.2.1 Historical Background ofthe Filter Paper Calibration 15
2.2.2 Working Principle ofthe Filter Paper Method 22
2.2.2.1 Principle of Total Suction Measurements 23
2.2.2.2 Principle of Matric Suction Measurements 25
2.2.3 Calibration Technique of Filter Paper 26
2.2.3.1 Total Suction Calibration 26
2.2.3.2 Matric Suction Calibration 29
2.2.4 Performance of Filter Paper Method 33
m. LABORATORY STUDIES 35
3.1 Apparatus Used in the Filter Paper Method 35
3.2 The Experimental Procedure 36
3.3 Total Suction Calibration Curve 39

in

y '.'yy-'y ^^
IV. EVALUATION OF THE PROBLEM 44
4.1 The Problem 44

4.2 Sensitivity of Total Suction at High Water Content 44


4.2.1 Total Suction and Relative Humidity Relationship 44
4.2.2 Osmotic Suction versus Total Suction 45
4.2.3 Total Suction versus Filter Paper Water Content 46
4.3 Total Suction and Sah Solutions 46
4.4 Equilibration Time 50
V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 53
5.1 Conclusions 53
5.2 Recommendations 54
REFERENCES 56
APPENDICES
A. CONVERSION UNITS 60
B. ASTM D 5298 - 92 STANDARD TEST METHOD FOR
MEASUREMENT OF SOIL POTENTL\L (SUCTION)
USING FILTER PAPER 63
C. RELATIVE HUMIDITIES AND OSMOTIC POTENTL\LS
OF SOME SALT SOLUTIONS 69
D. "SEPTEMBER" DATA VALUES USED IN CALIBRATION
OF TOTAL SUCTION CURVE 73

IV

.....UUMM

/ •
ABSTRACT

The filter paper method is a soil suction measurement technique. Soil suction is one
ofthe most important parameters describing the moisture condition of unsaturated soils.
The measurement of soil suction is crucial for applying the theory' behind the unsaturated
soils. The filter paper method is a laboratory test method, but it is inexpensive and
relatively simple. It is also the only known method that covers the full range of suction.
With the filter paper method, both total and matric suction can be measured. If the filter
paper is allowed to absorb water through vapor flow (non-contact method), then only
total suction is measured. However, if the filter paper is allowed to absorb water through
fluid flow (contact method), then only matric suction is measured.

In this research, the filter paper method was investigated, especially the lower (wet)
part ofthe total suction calibration curve. A total suction calibration curve was
constructed using sodium chloride, NaCl, salt solutions and S & S No. 589 White Ribbon
filter papers. Salt solutions and filter papers were brought to equilibrium through vapor
flow (total suction measurement) at isothermal conditions. Equilibrium time and
temperature were two weeks and 25°C , respectively. It was found out that total suction
is very sensitive below 2.5 pF and the reason for this sudden change in suction arise from
double effect ofthe logarithms (i.e., natural logarithm from Kelvin's equation and base
ten logarithm from pF scale) and sensitivity of filter papers to water at low suctions.
Filter paper is a poorly graded material, so it has more tendency to absorb water at low
suctions. Another conclusion from these experiments and literature review was that the
calibration curve is highly salt solution-type dependent because every salt solution has a
different chemical activity thus different osmotic potential. The filter paper method
needs further investigation in regard to equilibrium time and temperature fluctuations.

"^'(•Cv
LIST OF TABLES

1.1 Instruments formeasuring soil suction 2


2.1 Water potentials of NaCl solutions at 25°C temperature 11
A.l Soil suction conversion factors 61
C.l Relative humidities of some saturated salt solutions 70
C.2 Water potentials of NaCl solutions in Bars 71
C.3 Water potentials of KCl solutions in Bars 72

VI

'^••^^.
LIST OF FIGURES

1.1 Selected calibration curves, constructed usine different


types of filter papers and devices 5
2.1 Total suction versus relative humidit\, constructed using
Kelvin's equation at a reference temperature of 20T 9
2.2 Total suction and relative humidity relationship using
Kelvins equation at a reference temperature of20"C 12
2.3 Filter paper calibration curve for Whatman No. 42 filter papers
using a combination of pressure membrane, pressure plate, and
vacuum desiccator methods 17
2.4 Summry of calibration data using S and S White Ribbon
filter papers 18
2.5 Filter paper calibration relationship using different
types of filter papers 20
2.6 Filter paper test cofigurations 24
2.7 Total suction calibration test configuration 28
2.8 Total suction calibration curve for saturated salt solutions of MgNO?.
NH4CI, and CaS04 and Fisher quantitative coarse filter papers 30
2.9 Matric suction calibration test configuration 31
2.10 Matric suction calibration curve for Fisher quantitative coarse
filter papers 32
3.1 Data sheet for filter paper water content measurements 40
3.2 Total suction calibration data for NaCl salt solutions and
J.J Total
S & Ssuction
No. 589calibration curvefilter
White Ribbon for Spapers
& S No. 589 White Ribbon 42
filter papers and NaCl sah solution 43
4.1 Total suction versus NaCl solutions in molality. constructed
using Lang's Table 47

vii

•SWHBTs
4.2 Osmotic suction versus NaCl solutions m molality, osmotic
coefficients and water potentials of NaCl calculted
from Lang's Table 48

4.3 Total suction calibration curve in kPa units 49

4.4 Comparison of calibration curves 52

A.l Graphical presentation of conversion units 62

Vlll

•"*~"^''"™raHi
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

1 • 1 Problem Statement
Soil suction can simply be defined as the unit attractive force ofthe soil for water
(McKeen, 1977). The measurement of soil suction in engineering practice is very
important for the application ofthe theory and practice behind unsaturated soil
mechanics. Soil suction is one ofthe most important stress variables describing the
behavior ofthe unsaturated soils. In many cases, the soils are mostly unsaturated and
behave quite differently from that predicted by saturated soil mechanics theory. Soil
suction and positive pore water pressure are two similar important parameters in regard
to describing the behavior of unsaturated and saturated soils, respectively (Houston et al.,
1994). With a reliable soil suction measurement technique, the initial and final soil
suction profiles can be obtained at convenient depth intervals. The change in suction
with seasonal moisture movement is valuable information for many engineering
applications.
There are many soil suction measurement techniques in the fields of soil science and
engineering. Some ofthe instruments used in soil suction measurement are shown in
Table 1.1. Most of these instruments have limitations with regard to range of
measurement, equilibration times, and cost. Therefore, there is a need for a method
which can cover the full range of measurement, be adopted for a routine basis, and is
inexpensive.

The filter paper method, which was evolved in Europe in the 1920s and came to the
United States in 1937 with Gardner (1937), has been accepted among soil scientists and
engineers. The filter paper is a specially designed circular porous paper.

.IJIUM
Table 1.1 Instruments for measuring soil suction, taken from class notes for
PSS 5335 Soil Physics, Department of Soil Science, Texas Tech
University, 1995.

Name of Measured Range Comments


Instrument Suction (MPa)
Psychrometer Total 0.2-5 •Constant temperature environment is required.
•Resolution and accuracy are good.
Temperature can be measured also.
•Calibration may be required approximately
every six months.
Tensiometer Matric 0-0.08 •Problems with air diffusion through ceramic cup.
•Limited moisture range.
•Good precision and accuracy.
Pressure Plates Matric 0-1.5 •Range of measurement is a function of the
air entry value of the ceramic disc.
T h e application of the method is versatile.
•Expensive method.
Resistance Blocks Matric 0.1-1 •Must be calibrated for individual soils.
•Very low precision in wet range.
•Plaster and gypsum blocks deteriorate rather
rapidly.
•Inexpensive method.
Heat Dissipation Matric 0.01-1 •Can be interfaced with a data logger.
Blocks •Easy to operate.
•Hysteresis may be a problem

y
The filter paper method can cover the full range of suction measurement. It is a
laboratory test method, but it is inexpensive and relatively simple. The working principle
behind the filter paper method is that the filter paper will come to equilibrium with the
soil either through vapor flow or liquid flow, and at equilibrium suction value ofthe filter
paper and the soil will be the same. If the filter paper is allowed to absorb water through
vapor flow (no contact between the filter paper and soil), then only total suction is
measured. However, if the filter paper is allowed to absorb water through fluid flow
(contact between the filter paper and soil), then only matric suction is measured. In
engineering practice, soil suction is composed of two components: matric and osmotic
suction. The sum ofthe matric and osmotic suction is called the total suction. Matric
suction comes from the capillarity, texture, and surface adsorption forces ofthe soil.
Osmotic suction arises from the difference in salt potential from one point to another in
the soil mass (i.e., the pore water). In the filter paper method, the soil specimen and filter
paper are brought to equilibrium either in a contact (matric suction measurement) or in a
non-contact (total suction measurement) method in a constant temp)erature environment.
After equilibrium is established between the filter paper and soil the water content ofthe
filter paper disc is measured. Then, by using a filter paper water content versus total or
matric suction calibration curve, the corresponding suction value is found from the curve.
In the case ofthe contact method (i.e., the filter paper and soil are in contact), a matric
suction calibration curve must be used. On the other hand, in the non-contact case (i.e.,
the filter paper and soil are not in contact), a total suction calibration curve must be used.
Separate calibration curves must be used because the total and matric suction calibration
curves are not compatible (Houston et al., 1994). Additionally, separate calibration
curves must be developed for different filter papers. Houston et al. (1994) constructed a
total suction calibration curve for Fisher quantitative coarse filter papers using saturated
salt solutions and a matric suction calibration curve using a pressure membrane and a

•IMULJJMILIBi
/
tensiometer. Until the findings reported by Houston et al. (1994). soil scientists and
engineers had used a single combined calibration curve constructed using combinations
of salt solutions, pressure membranes, pressure plates, and tensiometers. Some of these
calibration curves are shown in Fig. 1.1.

Each ofthe calibration curves shown in Fig. 1.1 were constructed for different filter
papers, instruments, and range of interest. Therefore, it is very difficult to compare these
curves on a one-to-one basis. For example, even if Al-Khafaf and Hanks (1974) and
McQueen and Miller (1968) constructed their respective calibration curves using the
Schleicher & Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter papers, their procedures and the
devices used in calibration were different. Houston et al. (1994) solved one part ofthe
problem by proving that the total and matric suction methods to calibrate a single curve
are not true. There are still some problems related to the filter paper method, such as the
sensitivity of total suction in the lower (higher water content) part ofthe curve,
equilibration time for total suction calibration, degree of contact between the filter paper
and soil in matric suction calculations, and dependence ofthe total suction calibration
curve on the type of salt solution. The investigation reported herein focuses on the lower
(higher water content) part ofthe filter paper total suction calibration curve and on the
dependence ofthe total suction calibration on different types of salt solutions.

1.2 Statement of Obi ecti ves


The filter paper method has recently been started to be accepted as an adaptable test
method for soil suction measurements among the researchers because of its advantages
over other suction measurement devices. A "standard*' procedure is not included in the
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) (i.e., ASTM, 1994). The filter
paper method is the only method which covers the full range of suction measurement.
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Both total and matric suction measurements can be made using this method. The filter
paper method is also inexpensive and relatively simple.

The general objective of this study is to clarify some problems or questions


regarding the filter paper method. In this study, the reason for the sensitivity ofthe lower
(higher water content) part ofthe total suction calibration curve and dependence ofthe
total suction calibration on different salt solutions are going to be investigated in
particular. Additionally, the equilibration time ofthe total suction calibration and the
effect ofthe degree of contact between the filter paper and the soil specimen in matric
suction measurements.

1.3 Research Approach


The research approach of this study consists of experimental and technical literature
review parts. In the experimental part, the total suction calibration curve was established
using sodium chloride, NaCl, salt solutions prepared at different molalities and
Schleicher & Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter papers. Two filter papers, one on top
ofthe other, were put on the plastic cups in 250 ml glass jars. Each glass jar was put in a
constant temperature environment for two weeks at 25°C temperature. Finally, the
average water content ofthe top and bottom filter papers with total suction values
prepared by Lang (1967) were used to construct the calibration curve. In the literature
review, the evaluation ofthe filter paper method was done by reading technical
publications reporting the most recent knowledge on the filter paper method as well as
reviewing the applicable principles of chemistry and physics.
CHAPTER II
SEARCH OF THE TECHNICAL LITERATURE

2.1 Soil Suction Concept


The basic research regarding the effect ofthe pore fluid on the soil was first initiated
by soil scientists and agronomists towards the end ofthe 19th century. The importance
ofthe soil suction concept was first recognized by civil engineers in the 1950s. Initially,
civil engineers adopted soil suction terminology from soil science and worked on the
behavior of unsaturated soils using this terminology. More recently, engineering
researchers have adopted these definitions to engineering applications. In engineering
practice, soil suction consists of matric and osmotic suction components. The sum ofthe
matric and osmotic suctions is called total suction.
Matric suction as defined by the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS, 1963)
is: "The negative gauge pressure relative to the external gas pressure on the soil water, to
which a solution identical in composition with the soil water must be subjected in order
to be in equilibrium through a porous permeable wall with the soil water" (1963, p. 8).
The ISSS definition of osmotic suction is: "The osmotic suction is the negative
gauge pressure to which a pool of pure water must be subjected in order to be in
equilibrium through a semipermeable (i.e., permeable to water molecules only)
membrane with a pool containing a solution identical in composition with the soil water"
(1963, p. 8).
In a similar way, the ISSS definition of total suction is: " The total suction is the
negative gauge pressure relative to the external gas pressure on the soil water to which a
pool of water must be subjected in order to be in equilibrium through a semipermeable
membrane with the soil water. Total suction is thus the sum of matric or soil water
suction and osmotic suction" (1963, p. 8).

^
Soil suction can also be defined interms ofthe free energy state of soil water. The

free energy state of soil water can be measured in terms ofthe partial vapor pressure of

the soil water (Richards, 1965). Then, the soil suction can be calculated using Kelvin's

equation as:

4^ =-(RT/V)x ln(P/PJ (2.1)

Where

^ = total suction (kPa)

R = universal gas constant [8.31432 J/(mol K)]

T = absolute temperature (in Kelvin)

V = molecular volume of water (m^ /kmol)

P/P^ = relative humidity (in percent)

P = partial pressure of pore water vapor (kPa)

P„ = saturation pressure of water vapor over a flat surface of pure water

at the same temperature (kPa)

If Eq. (2.1) is evaluated for 20° C, Eq. (2.1) becomes (Fredlund & Rahardjo, 1993):

^ = -135022xln(P/PJ (2.2)

Figure 2.1 shows a plot of Eq. (2.2) for 20" C temperature. From Fig. 2.1, it can be

seen that there is a linear relationship between the total suction {\\f) and relative humidity

(P/P^) over a very small relative humidity range. It can be said, in general, that in a

closed system under isothermal conditios the relative humidity may be associated with

the water content ofthe system such as 100 percent relative humidity refers to a fully

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0.90 0.92 0.94 0.96 0.98 1.00
Relative Humidity, RIH

Fig. 2.1. Total suction versus relative humidity, constructed using


Kelvin's equation at a reference temperature of 20'*C.
saturated condition. Therefore, the suction value of a soil sample can be inferred from
the relative humidity and suction relationship if the relative humidity is known.
In engineering practice, the soil suction is usually calculated in pF (i.e., the common
logarithm ofthe pressure exerted per square centimeter by a water column measured in
centimeters). Table 2.1 shows the total suction values of NaCl solutions at 25°C
temperature in different units; thus, the relationship between the units can be seen. If
total sucfion in kPa from Fig. 2.1 is converted to pF units. Fig. 2.2 is obtained. The
difference between Fig. 2.1 and Fig. 2.2 is only the suction unit. The suction unit in Fig.
2.1 is kPa whereas it is pF unit in Fig. 2.2. From Fig. 2.2 it cleariy can be seen that when
relative humidity approaches 100 percent, the suction becomes very sensitive. The
sensitivity in the suction is due to the common logarithm used to convert pressure in units
of centimeters of water to the pF unit.

The soil suction components can also be defined using the thermodynamic
relationship between the free energy state ofthe soil water (or the soil suction) and the
partial pressure ofthe porewater vapor (Aitchison, 1965). The quoted definition ofthe
matric suction (Aitchison, 1965) is "Matric suction is the equivalent suction derived from
the measurement ofthe partial pressure ofthe water vapor in equilibrium with the soil
water, relative to the partial pressure ofthe water vapor in equilibrium with a solution
identical in composition with the soil water" (p. 70).
Aitchison (1965) defined osmotic suction as "Osmotic suction is the equivalent
suction derived from the measurement ofthe partial pressure ofthe water vapor in
equilibrium with the soil water, relative to the partial pressure of water vapor in
equilibrium with free pure water" (p. 71).

In a similar way, Aitchison (1965) defined total suction as: "Total suction is the
equivalent suction derived from the measurement ofthe partial pressure ofthe water

10

• ^
Table 2.1 Water potentials of NaCl solutions at 25°C temperature
(the first two columns from Lang ,1967).

NaCl Water Potential (or the total suction) in:


Concentrations Bars Cm of v^ater pF kPa log(kPa)
0.000 0.00 0.00 0.00 0
0.003 -0.15 152.97 2.18 15 1.18
0.007 -0.34 346.73 2.54 34 1.54
0.010 -0.48 489.50 2.69 48 1.69
0.050 -2.34 2,386.29 3.38 234 2.38
0.100 -4.62 4,711.40 3.67 462 2.67
0.200 -9.15 9,331.02 3.97 915 2.97
0.300 -13.68 13,950.65 4.14 1368 3.14
0.400 -18.23 18,590.66 4.27 1823 3.27
0.500 -22.81 23,261.27 4.37 2281 3.37
0.600 -27.44 27,982.87 4.45 2744 3.45
0.700 -32.10 32,735.07 4.52 3210 3.52
0.800 -36.82 37,548.45 4.57 3682 3.57
0.900 -41.58 42,402.62 4.63 4158 3.63
1.000 -46.40 47,317.98 4.68 4640 3.68
1.100 -51.27 52,284.33 4.72 5127 3.72
1.200 -56.20 57,311.86 4.76 5620 3.76
1.300 -61.19 62,400.58 4.80 6119 3.80
1.400 -66.23 67,540.29 4.83 6623 3.83
1.500 -71.34 72,751.39 4.86 7134 3.86
1.600 -76.52 78,033.87 4.89 7652 3.89
1.700 -81.70 83,316.35 4.92 8170 3.92
1.800 -87.00 88,721.21 4.95 8700 3.95
1.900 -92.40 94,228.04 4.97 9240 3.97
2.000 -97.80 99,734.88 5.00 9780 4.00
2.100 -103.35 105,394.68 5.02 10,335 4.02
2.300 -114.59 116,857.05 5.07 11,459 4.07
2.500 -126.13 128,625.36 5.11 12,613 4.11
2.700 -137.97 140,699.61 5.15 13,797 4.15

11
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0.90 0.91 0.92 0.93 0.94 0.95 0.96 0.97 0.98 0.99 1.00
Relative Humidity, RH

Fig. 2.2. Total suction and relative humidity relationship using


Kelvin's equation at a reference temperature of 20"C.

12
vapor in equilibrium with a solution identical in composition with the soil water, relative
to the partial pressure of water vapor in equilibrium with free pure water" (p. 71).

In a system, if the water is pure enough, the partial pressure ofthe water xapor at
equilibrium is equal to the saturated vapor pressure at temperature, T. However, the soil
water is not always pure; there are usually free ions and salts in it. Therefore, the partial
pressure of water which contains ions and salts will be less than the saturation vapor
pressure of pure water. The lesser the partial pressure ofthe soil water, the higher the
soil suction.
The definitions of soil suction components have been simplified over years in
engineering applications. The soil suction can be defined simply as the unit attractive
force ofthe soil for water (McKeen, 1977). In general, the forces keeping the water in
the soil come from the capillarity, soil texture, adsorption forces ofthe clay particles, and
salt concentrations. Matric suction arises from the capillary forces, soil texture, and
adsorption forces of clay particles, and osmotic suction results from salt concentration
differences between one point and another in the soil mass.
Houston et al. (1994) made a simplified definition of matric suction as "matric
suction is the affinity a soil has for water in the absence of any salt content gradients in
the water" (p. 185). In a similar way, the total suction defined as the force needed to take
away a soil water molecule from the soil into the vapor phase (Ridley, 1995). In order to
clarify the definitions ofthe suction components, two extreme cases can be considered.
In a case where only a salt solution is present (i.e., a salt solution at a specified
concentration, no soil and any other impurities), the total and osmotic suctions are the
same because there is no stress component from any source other than the salt solution
gradient. In the second case, the total and matric suction components are equal in a salt-
free soil because the forces holding the water in the soil are only the forces from the

Vs
surface tension of water, texture ofthe soil, and the adsorption forces ofthe clay
particles.

When the total water potential consists of only matric and osmotic potentials, the
total soil suction is numerically equal but opposite in sign to the total water potential. In
other words, there are more than two components that make up the total water potential
such as matric, osmotic, gravitational, and external gas pressure potentials. In addition,
the soil suction is positive and the potential is negative.

2.2 The Filter Paper Method


The filter paper method is a soil suction measurement technique. It is an indirect
laboratory test method. The filter paper method is the only method which covers the full
range of suction measurement. Furthermore, both total and matric suction measurements
are possible with the method. Basically, the filter paper comes into equilibrium with the
soil either through vapor flow or liquid flow. At equilibrium, the suction value ofthe
filter paper and the soil will be the same.
If the filter paper absorbs water through vapor flow with both matric and osmotic
suction components present in the soil, then only the total suction is measured. However,
if the filter paper absorbs water through fluid flow, the salts present in the soil water will
also move with the water into the filter paper and there will not be a salt solution gradient
between any two points in the soil mass. If this occurs, then only the matric suction is
measured. The osmotic suction component can simply be calculated by subtracting the
matric suction from the total suction component.

The calibration curves relating soil suction to water content of filter papers have
been established using filter papers, salt solutions, pressure membranes and plates, and
tensiometers for measurements of soil suction. The salt solutions are usually used for
total suction calibration and a combination ofthe pressure membrane, pressure plate, and

14

• ^
tensiometer is usually used for matric suction calibration Thus, two different calibration
curves are constructed for the filter paper water content versus either total or matric
suction using different procedures. For the measurement of suction, the soil sample is
simply brought to equilibriimi with the filter paper through the desired testing method,
depending on which suction component is being measured. After equilibnum between
the filter paper and the soil is established, the filter paper water content is calculated.
Then, using the appropriate calibration curve the desired suction value is obtained.

2.2.1 Historical Background of the Filter Paper Calibration


In the 1920s, researchers in the field of soil science and agronomy recognized that
forces attracting water to paper could be used to estimate the magnitude of soil suction.
Hansen (1926) used blotting paper and sugar solutions to estimate the water potential
(suction) at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The blotting strips were saturated
with different sugar solutions and exposed to soils in closed containers. The water
potential ofthe soil was estimated by determining the osmotic potential ofthe sugar
solutions. Stocker (1930) improved the accuracy ofthe method using a wide range of
sugar solutions by following the same procedure. Gradman (1934) improved the method
a little further by using a single strip of blotting paper and salt solutions. The paper was
calibrated for the blotting paper water content versus potential.
The use of paper for estimating the water potential in the United States was first
reported by Gardner (1937). Gardner (1937) used an ash free quantitative filter paper
(Schleicher & Shull No. 589 White Ribbon). The filter papers were calibrated using
sulfuric acid solutions for higher water potentials and a centrifugal force method for
lower water potentials. Until Williams and Sedgley (1965), there is no use ofthe filter
paper method in the literature. Williams and Sedgley (1965) used a new type of filter
paper (Whatman No. 50) and the calibration was established for the filter paper water

15
content versus water potential (suction) by using only the pressure membrane. Both
Gardner (1937) and Williams and Sedgley (1965) used the filter paper method for
agricultural purposes. Fawcett and Collis-George (1967) constructed a calibration curve
covering almost the full range of suction (from 1 to 7 pF) using a pressure membrane,
pressure plate, or vacuum desiccator as the measuring devices. Figure 2.3 shows the
calibration curve established for Whatman No. 42 filter paper (Fawcett & Collis-George,
1967).

McQueen and Miller (1968) improved the filter paper method much further in
research supported by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) by eliminating some hazards
and difficulties ofthe method. The procedures and techniques followed for the
calibration ofthe filter paper versus suction was intended to be close enough for normal
use ofthe method. The calibration curve established using Schleicher & Schuell No. 589
White Ribbon filter papers consists of three sections (McQueen & Miller, 1968). For the
high suction values (higher than 15 bars), the filter papers were brought to equilibrium
over saturated salt solutions of Na2S203, Na2S04, and CaS04 in a constant temperature
enviroimient. For the medium stress levels (i.e., suctions in between 1 and 15 bars), the
filter papers were calibrated on a pressure membrane. For stresses below one bar, a
pressure plate was used. Finally, for low suction range (i.e., stress levels below 0.2 bars),
soil samples obtained at known heights above a water table were used to calculate the
suction values. Figure 2.4 shows the calibration curve constructed using salt solutions,
pressure membrane, pressure plate, and suction values obtained from soil samples above
the groundwater table (McQueen & Miller, 1968).

Al-Khafaf and Hanks (1974) followed a slightly different procedure and technique
for the calibration of Schleicher and Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter paper and
suction by using salt solutions, thermocouple psychrometers, pressure plates, and soil
columns at equilibrium above the groundwater table. The contributions made by

16

. ..' l U J I U
8
i
t

7' 1

1
6
u.
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-T 5
(0
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WateTpot

1
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I

i:

0 — 1 1 — 1 1 1 1 — — 1 — 1 — I — 1 , , ' ' '1 1 1 1 T - I "

0.00 30.00 60.00 90.00 120.00 150.00 180.00


Filter paper water content, in percent

Fig. 2.3. Filter paper calibration curve for Whatman No. 42 filter papers
using a combination of pressure membrane, pressure plate, and
vacuum desiccator methods (After Fawcett & Collis-George, 1967).

17
CD
(NJ CO
CD
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Fig. 2.4. SuiTimary of calibartion ata

o •D
m

o
V£> in CO cvi

(jd) sj3|aii]i)ua3 ui ssdj;s jo Soq

18
Al-Khafaf and Hanks (1974) can be considered as an investigation ofthe degree of
contact between filter paper and soil, temperature of equilibrium, and temperature
variations during equilibrium.

The first use ofthe filter paper method in civil engineering applications appears
to have been made by McKeen (1977) and used on the designs of pavements over
subgrades of expansive soils. Then, McKeen (1981) improved the USGS procedure
proposed by McQueen and Miller (1968) for the calibration ofthe Schleicher & Schuell
No. 589 White Ribbon filter paper. For his calibration, different concentrations of KCl
salt solutions in the high suction range (from 3 to 4.7 pF) and pressure plates in the low
suction range (below 3 pF) were used. A comparison of two calibration curves that have
been used in many projects are shown in Fig. 2.5. The NMERI curve was constructed by
McKeen (1981) and the USGS curve was established by McQueen and Miller (1968).

Until Hamblin (1981), almost all filter papers had been treated against bacterial
growth with some concentration of pentachlorophenol solutions. Hamblin (1981)
constructed calibration curves with treated and untreated Whatman No. 42 filter papers
using a combination of suction plate, pressure membrane, direct pressure plate, and
saturated vapor pressure at 20°C. McKeen (1981) also used the filter papers from
different batches two years apart. It was found that there was no significant difference
between calibration curves constructed v^th treated and untreated filter papers and with
the filter papers chosen from different batches two years apart.
Chandler and Gutierrez (1986) used Whatman No. 42 filter papers and a
conventional oedometer to establish a calibration curve. The calibration curve was
constructed up to a suction value of 4.3 pF using the oedometer and six determinations of
suction were made at 4.7 pF using vacuum desiccator method.

19

y^ms^m
sjeq 'uou3ns
o o
o o o o
o
o o 00
(Ji
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o c
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-••->

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*^ 0
c Q.
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in o • * — •

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g. 2.5.

jd 'uoipns

20
Swarbrick (1992) also established a calibration curve using Whatman No. 42 filter
papers and a combination of common suction measurement devices such as
psychrometers, pressure plates, and pressure membranes. All the calibration curves
constructed from Gardner (1937) to Swarbrick (1992) were established by using different
filter papers, a combination of different soil suction measurement devices, and different
calibration testing procedures.

Houston et al. (1994) developed two different calibration curves, one for total
suction and one for matric suction measurements, using Fisher quantitative coarse filter
papers. For the total suction calibration curve, saturated salt solutions of magnesium
nitrate, ammonium chloride, and calcium sulfate and for the matric suction calibration
curve tensiometers and pressure membranes were used. Houston et al. (1994) reFK)rted
that the total and matric suction calibration curves were not compatible. This simply
means that it is not going to be the correct suction if a contact (matric suction)
measurement is done on a non-contact (total suction) based calibration curve.
Swarbrick (1995) discussed several aspects ofthe filter paper method such as range
and accuracy, hysteresis, calibration, and equilibration time. Swarbrick (1995) claimed
that when initially dry filter papers are used in total suction measurements, filter papers
require more time to reach equilibrium than when used wdth wetter samples. However, if
initially dry filter papers are used in matric suction measurements, filter papers take less
time to reach equilibrium with wetter samples because of better flow path.
Harrison and Blight (1995) established total suction calibration curves for both
Whatman No. 42 and Schleicher & Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter papers using salt
solutions and psychrometers. It was reported that the total suction measurements using
the filter paper methods showed a wide range of suction values.

There are still many problems regarding the filter paper method. However, the
method has improved a lot since Gardner (1937). For instance, Houston et al. (1994)

21
provided a significant advancement in the understanding ofthe method b> calibrating
total and matric suction curves separately and showing them to be different. The
principal problems that total suction calibration and measurements face are the
sensitivity of suction to water content at the extreme lower part (wet end) ofthe
calibration curve, equilibration time, temperature fluctuations during equilibnum period,
type of salt solutions used, and calibration and measurement techniques. The matnc
suction calibration and measurements also have some problems needing clarification,
such as the degree of contact between filter papers and soil specimen, type and range of
measurement of instruments used, and the procedure followed both for calibration and
measurements.

2.2.2 Working Principle ofthe Filter Paper Method


The working principle behind the filter paper method is simply that the suction of
the soil and the filter paper will be the same at equilibrium. The filter paper is a porous
material and as such has an ability to retain water like soil. There are two ways for the
filter paper to acquire moisture: The filter paper can absorb water either by direct
contact with soil (ftmctioning as a matric suction measuring device) or by indirect
contact with soil (functioning as a total suction measuring device). Total suction is
measured if the filter paper acquires water through vapor flow (indirect method). On the
other hand, matric suction is measured if the filter paper gains water through fluid flow
(direct method). Therefore, with the filter paper method either matric or total suction can
be measured. The filter paper calibration needs to be performed under conditions and
procedure that will be as close to the actual soil test procedure (McQueen & Miller,
1968).

22
2.2.2.1 Principle of Total Suction Measurements
If no contact is provided between the filter paper and soil, the dissolved salts will not
leave the soil water. Therefore, total sucfion, which is the sum of matric and osmotic
suction, is measured because both matric and osmotic suction components exist in the
soil. Since there is no contact between the filter paper and soil when measunng the total
suction , the filter paper absorbs water through vapor flow. Then, the total suction can be
calculated by measuring the vapor pressure ofthe soil. The less the release ofthe vapor
pressure (or relative humidity), the higher the total suction in the soil mass. The
thermodynamic relationship between the total suction and relative humidity is given in
Eq. 2.1. If a filter paper is placed in a sealed container (in a non-contact manner) with a
soil specimen in a constant temperature environment, at the end ofthe equilibrium time
(i.e., when transfer ofthe water vapor between the soil and filter paper has stopped) the
total suction value ofthe filter paper and soil will be the same. Then, the water content
ofthe filter paper is used to get the total suction value ofthe soil from a calibration curve
established for filter paper water content versus total suction.
For the measurement of total suction, filter papers are simply placed above a soil
specimen (in a non-contact manner) in sealed containers. The test configuration for total
suction measurement is shown in Fig. 2.6a. Then, the whole set up is put in a constant
temperature environment. Temperature fluctuations need to be kept as minimal as
possible during the equilibrium period. At the end ofthe equilibration time, the filter
paper water content is measured as quickly and accurately as possible. Finally, the total
suction value ofthe soil sample is found from a total suction calibration curve using the
water content ofthe filter paper (Houston et al., 1994). A more detailed information for
the measurement of soil suction using filter paper method can be found in the ASTM
standard on the filter paper method (ASTM, 1994). A copy ofthe ASTM standard on the
filter paper method is included in Appendix B. However, the ASTM procedure should

23

rBSBCX
Sealed Lid

Rlter Paper
O - Ring

Greased Metal Disk

Glass Container

Soil Sample

(a) - Test Configuration for Non-Contact Method (Total Suction)

r Sealed Lid
Airspace

'r • . ^ •.' .
Rlter Paper Sandwich
\* .... .^.
'\* •

Glass Container

Soil Sample

S^

(b) - Test Configuration for Contact Method (Matric Suction)

Fig. 2.6. Filter paper test configurafions. (From Houston et al., 1994)

24
only be used for the measurement ofthe filter paper water content because the ASTM
calibrafion curve is a combination of total and matric suction which is now believed to be
not correct (Houston et al., 1994).

2.2.2.2 Principle of Matric Suction Measurements


Matric suction is measured if filter paper makes contact with soil because salts
present in soil water will move with it. Osmotic suction which results from the salt
concentration in soil will not impact the matric suction measurement. Thus, only the
matric suction is measured when the filter paper acquires water through fluid flow. It is a
great concern that the contact between filter paper and soil is established intimateh
enough for the transfer of soil water only through fluid flow not through vapor flow.
Actually, in practice, it is very difficult (or may be even impossible) to keep a 100
percent contact between filter paper and soil, but the degree of contact may be increased
by simply burying the filter paper into the soil. Figure 2.6b shows the advisable test
configuration for the matric suction measurements.
For the measurement of matric suction, filter papers are simply buried into a soil
specimen (in a very good contact manner) in closed containers. Then, the sealed
containers are put in relatively constant temperature environment for equilibrium. After
equilibrium is established between the filter paper and soil, the filter paper water content
is measured as quickly and accurately as possible. The matric suction value ofthe soil is
found from a calibration curve constructed for filter paper versus matric sucfion (Houston
et al., 1994). The ASTM standard has a procedure for the measurement of matric suction
using filter paper (ASTM, 1994). As in the case ofthe total suction measurement, the
ASTM procedure should only be used for measurement of filter paper water content
(Houston et al., 1994).

25

•""^"^^fc^
2.2.3 Calibrafion Technique of Filter Paper
The calibration curves for filter paper have been constructed using a combination of
soil suction measuring devices (i.e., a combinafion of both total and matric suction
measuring devices) unfil Houston et al. (1994) showed this method to be erroneous.
Houston et al. (1994) established the total and matric suction calibration curves
separately after having seen that the total and matric suction curves were not compatible.
It has recently been accepted that the total and matric suction calibrations are needed to
be performed separately (Ridley, 1995; Swarbrick, 1995). It was also reported by
McQueen and Miller (1968) that the filter paper calibration needs to be performed under
conditions and procedures that wall be followed as closely as possible when performing
the actual soil suction measurements.

2.2.3.1 Total Suction Calibration


There was no any total suction calibration of filter paper in the literature until
Houston et al. (1994) constructed a calibration curve using saturated salt solutions. As
stated above, all calibration curves constructed before Houston et al. (1994) were
developed from a combination of total and matric suction measurements. Researchers
calibrated filter papers over salt solutions, but it was for a narrow high suction range. For
example, McQueen and Miller (1968) used saturated salt solufions and McKeen (1981)
used a single salt solution (potassium chloride) at different concentrations for the high
suction range ofthe calibration curve.
The total suction calibration for filter paper using salt solufions is based upon the
thermodynamic relafionship between total suction (or osmofic sucfion) and the relative
humidity resulting from a specific concentrafion of salt in solution. The thermodynamic
relafionship between sucfion and relative humidity is given in Eq. 2.1. Osmofic sucfion
arises from the presence of salt in water. In other words, dissolved salts have ability to

26
attract free water and retain it. In a case where the medium is only the salt and water, the
osmotic suction equals to the total sucfion. Furthermore, every salt has a different
osmotic potential (or suction) at the same isothermal conditions (Wexler & Hasegawa,
1954; Hedlin & Trofimenkoff, 1963). For instance, every saturated salt solution under
the same isothermal conditions has a different osmotic potential (or suction) value
(Wexler & Hasegawa, 1954; Hedlin & Trofimenkoff, 1963). Osmofic suction also
depends on the salt concentration such as different concentrations of a particular salt
under the same conditions will have different osmotic potenfials (Lang, 1967; Campbell
& Gardner, 1970). In general, osmotic potential increases with an increase in salt
concentration. Relative humidities of some saturated salt solutions in a temperature
range are given in Table C.l and osmotic potentials of sodium chloride and potassium
chloride for a temperature and concentration range are given in Table C.2 and Table C. 1,
respectively.

For the calibration of total suction versus filter paper water content, salt solutions
(either different saturated salt solutions or solutions of a single salt at different
concentrations) are prepared. Then, filter papers are simply placed above salt solutions
(in a non-contact manner) and sealed in a container. The calibrafion test configuration
adopted for this research is shown in Fig. 2.7. After sealing, the whole apparatus is put in
a constant temperature environment for equilibrium. Temperature fluctuations are kept
as low as possible during equilibrium period. The suggested average equilibrium time
and maximum allowable temperature fluctuafions by researchers are about one week and
± r C , respecfively (Fawcett & Collis-George, 1967; McQueen & Miller, 1968; Lee,
1992; Houston et al., 1994). After the equilibrafion time the filter paper water content is
measured as quickly and accurately as possible (ASTM, 1994). If saturated salt solutions
are used for calibration, relative humidities of those solutions at corresponding tesfing
temperatures are found from a source such as Table C. 1. Then, by using Eq. 2.1, the

27

-Tssr\
Sealed Lid

Glass Jar

Filter Paper
>.^

A
XT ,~ \ ,£. *.. Plastic Cup Support
- >
..'•-
~ V '^
" -
.i f z. - Salt Solution
'^'^f " i. „ ^ A^ - _-
f ., \
^„^jf^^ "^ ^ " ^
f. i
- X- ... - 1

Fig. 2.7. Total suction calibration test configuration.

28
corresponding total sucfion is calculated. On the other hand, if a single salt solution such
as sodium chloride or potassium chloride at different concentrations is used, the
corresponding total sucfion value is obtained from Table C.2 or Table C.3. Finally, the
total suction is plotted versus filter paper water content to obtain the calibration curve.
The total sucfion calibrafion curve constructed by Houston et al. (1994) for Fisher
quantitative filter paper and saturated salt solutions is shown in Fig. 2.8.

2.2.3.2 Matric Sucfion Calibration


Tensiometers, pressure plates, and pressure membranes are commonly used matric
suction measuring devices for calibration of filter papers. The working principle of these
instruments are not in the scope of this thesis, so only a brief description of these devices
will be given. However, more detailed information about these devices can be obtained
from Lee (1992) and Fredlund and Rahardjo (1993). A schemafic diagram of pressure
membrane and tensiometer calibration apparatuses for filter paper is shown in Fig. 2.9.
For matric suction calibration, a contact path is provided between the filter paper and the
measuring device in order not to have an osmotic potential component of total suction.
In other words, if transfer of soil water is allowed only through fluid flow, salts will
move with soil water; thus, the measuring device will not detect an osmotic suction
component. As a result, matric suction measuring devices usually operate by imposing a
suction on a given specimen which can be a soil specimen or filter paper.
For matric suction calibration, the filter paper is put into the suction measuring
device in a manner that ensures good contact with the soil. For example, when using a
tensiometer to measure soil matric suction, the degree of contact between filter paper and
soil needs to be established well enough to allow only fluid flow. The tensiometer
calibrafion set up is shown in Fig. 2.9b. After equilibrium is established, the filter paper
water content is measured very quickly and accurately (ASTM, 1994). Then, the applied

29
10=

10'
• Average of 51010 tests

10^
tl.
a.
10*
o
o
i 3 CO
o
I-
io-»

lO-^"

10-
10 20 30 40 50

Filter Paper Water Content %

Fig. 2.8. Total sucfion calibration curve for saturated salt solufions of
MgNOj, NH^Cl, and CaSO^ and Fisher quantitafive coarse
filter papers. (From Houston et al., 1994)

30
Pressure Membrane
Chamber Regulated Air
\ fr-' Pressure Source
Filter Papers
(or Soil Specimens)

Cellulose Membrane
S^^g^g^s^gg^
Support for Membrane

( a ) - Schematic of Pressure Membrane Device for Matric Suction

Tensiometer
Styrofoam Box
Plastic Covering ^

5 to 8 cm
Compacted Soil

Sandwiched Filter Paper

( b ) - Schematic of Apparatus for Tensiometer Cailt>ra!lon for Matric SuctI on

Fig. 2.9. Matric suction calibration test cofiguration. (From Houston et. al., 1994)

31
10*

10'
®Tensiometer
u. 6 10'
* r^icSoUic M c
Q.

p 5 10' «
u
3
(0 4 v.. 10° I
o o
3 - 10-1 w
u

10-2
—t)
1 - io-=»

IO--*
50 100 150 200 250
Filter Paper Water Content %

Fig. 2.10. Matric suction calibration curve for Fisher quanfitafive coarse
filter papers. (From Houston et. al., 1994)

32
pressure (matric sucfion) is plotted against filter paper water content to give the matnc
sucfion calibration curve. Figure 2.10 shows a matric suction calibration curve
established for Fisher quanfitafive filter paper by Houston et al. (1994).

2.2.4 Performance of Filter Paper Method


Filter paper method can be used to obtain both total and matric sucfion of soil. It
can cover the full range of interest. It is an inexpensive and relativeh simple method. It
appears that it is a promising soil suction testing method.
The filter paper method has been used in different disciplines to predict total and
matric sucfion profiles of soil. For example, the U. S. Geological Survey used the filter
paper method that McQueen and Miller (1968) developed for pracfical applications in
many projects and found the results reliable. Snethen and Johnson (1980) claimed that
total suction results obtained from filter paper method were as reliable as psychrometer
results in a research study done to compare psychrometer and filter paper method.
Furthermore, van der Raadt et al. (1987) used filter paper method at several sites in
Western Canada for soil suction measurements and found that the filter paper method
works reasonable well for total suction measurements, but has some difficulties in
measuring matric suction due to insufficient contact between filter paper and soil.
McKeen (1985) used filter paper method for the studies of airport pavement subgrades
and swelling profile of expansive soils. In a comparison between the psychrometer and
filter paper test results, Lee (1992) reported that the filter paper tests tend to give higher
estimates of total suction than those predicted by the psychrometers. Lee (1992) also
reported that a 7-day equilibrium period for total suction measurements of relatively dry
soils seems not to be sufficiently long enough. Harrison and Blight (1995); however,
provided that the psychrometers measured repeatable and consistent soil sucfions, but the
filter papers provided a wide range of suction values.

33
Ridley (1995) reported that the sensifivity of total sucfion for a very narrow filter
paper water content range can be reduced if the equilibration time is increased. For
instance, Ridley (1995) claimed that a great reducfion in the total suction sensitivity for a
narrow filter paper water content range occurs if a 14-day equilibration time is selected
instead of a 7-day equilibrafion time.

34
CHAPTER III
LABORATORY STUDIES

3.1 Apparatus Used in the Filter Paper Method


In this research the total suction calibration curve was obtained for Schleicher &
Shuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter paper using NaCl solutions as a source for osmotic
(or total) suction. The apparatus needed doing this research can be outlined as:
a. Filter papers; the ash-free quantitative Schleicher & Shuell No. 589 White
Ribbon filter papers were used in this study.
b. Salt solutions; sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions in a range between 0 to 2.7
molalities were used as a total suction source.
c. Sealed containers; 250 ml glass jars with lids worked nicely.
d. Pentachlorophenol solution; 2% pentachlorophenol solution was used as a
precaution against bacterial growth in filter papers.
e. Small aluminum cans; the cans were used as carriers for filter papers during
moisture content determinafions.
f A balance; a balance with an accuracy to the nearest 0.0001 g. was used for
moisture content determination,
g. An oven; an oven for determining the moisture contents ofthe filter papers by
leaving them in it for 24 hours at 105 ± 5°C temperature in the aluminum
moisture cans,
h. A temperature room or water bath; in this study a water bath was used for
equilibrium period. The temperature was maintained at 25°C within ± 0.1 °C

fluctuations,
i. An aluminum block; the block was used as a heat sink to cool the aluminum cans
for 20 seconds after removing them from the oven.

35
In addition, latex gloves, tweezers, plasfic tapes, water proof tapes, plastic bags,
chests (or plastic containers), small plasfic cups, and a knife and funnel were used to set
up the experiment. The weekend days or weekday evenings were preferred for moisture
content measurements due to less use ofthe laboratory, so the effect of dust on testing
materials was reduced.

3.2 The Experimental Procedure


Filter papers were calibrated following a combination of procedures suggested by
the ASTM standard on the filter paper method (ASTM, 1994), McQueen and Miller
(1968), and McKeen (1985). The filter paper water content measurements were
performed by two persons in order to decrease the time during which the filter papers
were exposed to the laboratory atmosphere and, thus, the amount of moisture lost and
gained during measurements was kept to a minimum. All the items related to filter paper
testing were cleaned carefully. Gloves and tweezers were used to handle the materials in
nearly all steps ofthe experiment. The filter papers, plastic cups that were used as
support for the filter papers, glass jars, and aluminum cans were never touched with bare
hands. Because using oily hands may cause the filter papers to absorb more water. The
procedure that was adopted for the experiment is as follows:
a. NaCl solufions were prepared from 0 (i.e., distilled water)
to 2.7 molality. The definifion of molality is the number of moles of NaCl in
mass in 1000 ml of disfilled water. For example, one mole of NaCl is 58.4428 g.
Thus, 2 molality NaCl means 2 fimes 58.4428 g or 116.8856 g. NaCl in 1000 ml
distilled water.
b. Filter papers were treated by inserting them into a 2 percent pentachlorophenol
solution in order to prevent fungal growth on the filter papers and left overnight at
room temperature.
c. A 250 ml glass jar was filled with approximately 100 ml of a solution of known
molality of NaCl and the glass jar was labeled with the solution molality used for
that jar.

d. Then, a small plasfic cup was inserted into the glass jar. Holes were made in
plastic cups in order for the filter papers to interact with and absorb water from
the air in the closed jar. The configuration ofthe setup is shown in Fig. 2.7. Two
filter papers were put on the plasfic cup one on top ofthe other in order to double
check the errors in balance readings and in a case when one ofthe filter papers is
accidentally dropped the other filter paper is used. The glass jar lid was sealed
with plastic tapes very fightly to ensure air tightness.
e. Steps c. and d. were repeated for each different NaCl concentrations.
For every experiment, approximately 20 glass jars and 20 NaCl solutions were used
and in every glass jar there were two filter papers one on top ofthe other. The 20 glass
jars were divided into two groups; one group with lower NaCl concentrations and the
other group vAth higher NaCl concentrations. It is believed that the water vapor
equilibrium between the filter papers and lower concentration NaCl solutions (i.e.,
concentrations below 0.5 Molality) may be disturbed quickly at minor temperature
fluctuations, so it is better to take measurements from the lower concentration solutions
first. Two groups of glass jars were put into two large plastic containers and the
containers were sealed with water proof tape. Then, the containers were put into plastic
bags for an extra protection. After that, the containers were inserted into the water bath
for equilibration period. The equilibration period and temperature were two weeks and
25°C, respectively. In this research, two weeks of equilibrafion time was selected for the
construction ofthe total suction calibration curve.

After two weeks of equilibration time, the procedure for the filter paper water
content measurement was as follows:

37
a. Before starting to take measurements, all the items related to the expenment were
cleaned carefully and latex gloves were used throughout the experiment. Before
taking the plastic containers from the water bath, all small aluminum cans

were weighed to nearest 0.0001 g. accuracy and were recorded on a filter paper
water content measurement data sheet developed by Lee (1992).
b. After that, all measurements were carried out by two persons. For instance, while
one person was opening the sealed glass jar, the other person was putting the
filter paper into the aluminum can very quickly (i.e., in a few seconds, usualh
less than 5 seconds). The plastic container in which there were glass jars at low
NaCl concentration was removed first from the water bath because ofthe more
severe temperature fluctuation effects on low concentrafion solutions.
c. Then, the weights of each can with wet filter papers inside were taken very
quickly. The weights of cans and wet filter papers were recorded with
corresponding can numbers and whether the top or bottom filter paper was inside.
d. Step c. was followed for every glass jar. Then, all cans were put into the
oven with the lids half-open to allow evaporation. All filter papers were kept
at 105 ± 5°C temperature for 24 hours inside the oven.
e. Before taking measurements the dried filter papers, the cans were closed with
their lids and allowed to equilibrate for 5 minutes in the oven. Then a can was
removed from the oven and put on an aluminum block for 20 seconds to cool
down; the aluminum block acted as a heat sink and expedited the cooling ofthe
can. After that, the can with dry filter paper inside was weighed again very
quickly. The dry filter paper was taken from the can and the cold can was
weighed in a few seconds. Finally, all the weights were recorded on the data
sheet. Figure 3.1 shows the data sheet used in this study,
f Step e. was repeated for every can.

38
The moisture content of every filter paper was calculated by following the procedure
described above. Water contents calculated in the experiment called "August" are gi\ en
in Appendix D. The boxes which refers to "Depth'' in the data sheet developed by Lee
(1992) were used to record the corresponding NaCl molality.

3.3 Total Suction Calibration Curve


Several filter paper tests were performed by following the procedure described
above for obtaining the total suction calibration curve. However, it was difficult to keep
the temperature fluctuations below ± 1 °C before the last two experiments which were
performed by using a water bath for equilibrium period. When temperature fluctuations
exceeded ± 1°C , filter paper water content data points showed large scattering, but the
general trend was similar to what this writer obtained in the last two experiments
performed (described below). The reason for data scatter was most probably due to
alternating condensation and evaporation during equilibrium. Therefore, the calibration
curve was obtained using the last two experiment results. The equilibrium time and
temperature for the calibration were two weeks and 25°C within ± 1 °C fluctuation,
respectively.

The total suction calibration curve was obtained for the filter paper water contents
and total (or osmotic) suction values of sodium chloride solutions obtained from Lang
(1967). Table C.2 shows the osmofic potentials of sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions over
the 0° to 40°C temperature range. The osmotic potenfials of sodium chloride for 0.003,
0.007, 0.01, 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, and 2.7 molalities at 25°C where calculated using the procedure
that Lang (1967) followed. The results are given in Table 2.1.

39
<

<
Z

1-
z
Q.

UJ
UJ
UJ

UJ
o
o

UJ
(O

CO
u.

CO
o
o

CO
a.
\-
Q

Q
Lll
>

UJ 1 -
</) OQ

o <
UJ . .

Q I-
< UJ
^ 111

<
01 h- ^
_l
z
z ^ UJ
O Q- O

=, UJ CL

OQ Q CO
Molality, M
Moisture Tin No.
Top Filter Paper/ Bottom

o
"Q
o
o
E

m
Top/Bottom Top/ Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom

•D

L
L
3)
a.

0?
1-
O
Cold Tare Mass, g
Mass of Wet Filter Paper +

i
Cold Tare Mass, g
Mass of Dry Filter Paper -»•

CM
Hot Tare Mass, g
Hot Tare Mass, g

40
Mass of Dry Filter
Paper, g (M2-Th)
Mass of Water in Filter

$
2
Paper, g(M1-M2-Tc+Th)
Water Content of Filter

s
Paper, g (Mw / Mf)

JC
Suction, pF

^
Suction, cm of water

.c
Suction, kPa
<

Q
0
c
o
o
Gi

fc_

(O
(Ji

13

(0
<fi

CD

CD
CD
CD
CD

CO
CD

"TO
CD
CD

iS
Q.
E
E

"cS

CD
CD
CN

CO
\—
CL
"c

.n.
The total suction calibrafion data were obtained for Schleicher & Shuell No. 589
White Ribbon filter papers using sodium chloride salt solutions from the experiments,
namely "Augusf and "September." The data points are shown in Fig. 3.2. In addifion, a
best fit curve was drawn through the data points which were above 2.5 pF suction values.
This curve is given in Fig. 3.3.

41
CO
i_
CD
Q.
o CD
Q.
CD
A September; ^.
(D
O
c
• August


CD
O

•-
v-/ C7>
CO
^ ID
^ O
r ^•^
<
CO
i : 0
j ! o6
CO
O
' ^
c
o •D
1_
CD O CD

ons
<
0
^rf '.^
3
(0 O
c/>
^
^ CD

CIS
.30
0
Q. CD
4
4
o (0
< Q. o
«•-
^ B

CD
<
0
^J CD
•D
• • ^•B

UL C
o
al suction call rati
o
CN 1^
O

< \

1 O o
T— h-
o
3.2.

CD vn CO CNI
O)
j d 'uonong l^joi

42
c
o
1 '
3
CD •
o
<0
O •*—!

CD
CO

O
CD

z
•D
C
CD
LO, CO
k_

o CD
CL

$ o
c c
o
0
^-^ JQ
O

• o Q:
o

hite
O
0 §
u>
CO
CD
^ d
^^
0 CO
CO oe5
QL
o •
03 CO
CL
L_
CD
0
"^^ 3
LL 3.3. T otal suction calib tion c
CD
CN
CD

CD
CD LO CO CNI
O)
j d 'uoipns iB^oi

43
CHAPTER rv
EVALUATION OF THE PROBLEM

4.1 The Problem


The objective of this research was to investigate the lower (wet) end ofthe total
suction calibration curve. For this purpose, several tests were performed using sodium
chloride salt solutions as a source for total suction and Schleicher & Shuell No. 589
White Ribbon type filter papers. From the test results, it was confirmed that total suction
IS very sensitive below 2.5 pF over a very narrow range of filter paper water content.
Houston et al. (1994) also reported on the sensitivity of total suction when constructed a
calibrafion curve using saturated salt solutions and Fisher quantitative type filter papers.
Therefore, the evaluation ofthe problem was based on the performed tests, the most
recent studies done by other investigators, and applying the basic principles of physics.
Furthermore, during investigating the objective by performing tests and reading literature,
it was found out that the total suction calibration is highly dependent on the type of salt
employed in making the salt solutions.

4.2 Sensitivitv of Total Sucfion at High Water Content


4.2.1 Total Suction and Relative Humiditv Relafionship
Soil suction is usually referred as the free energy state of soil water. The free energy
ofthe soil water can be measured in terms ofthe partial vapor pressure ofthe soil water
(Richard, 1965). After soil sucfion terms were defined in terms ofthe free energy ofthe
soil water, it was discovered that there was a relationship between soil suction and the
partial pressure ofthe soil water. The thermodynamic relationship between soil suction
and partial pressure of soil water is expressed by Kelvin's equation, which is given as Eq.
2.1.

44
There is an inverse linear relationship between total suction and relative humidit> at
a constant temperature. Figure 2.1 was obtained by plotting Kelvin's equation for 20°C
temperature. From the relationship, total suction is equal to zero when relative humidit\
is 100 percent (i.e., fully saturated condifion). On the other hand, total suction becomes
very large when the relative humidity decreases, but the change in relative humidity is
very small with respect to the change in total suction. For instance, a relative humidit\
of 94.25 percent at a temperature of 20°C corresponds to a total suction value of 8,000
kPa. Since the suction values in engineering practice are often represented in pF units,
the total suction values in pF units were plotted versus relative humidity in order to see
the effect ofthe pF unit (i.e., a semi-log plot) on the relationship. The plot is given in
Fig. 2.2. From the figure, it is seen that the total sucfion decreases dramatically when
relative humidity approaches 100 percent. This dramatic decrease is due to the pF unit
used in total suction because the pF unit is defined as:
pF = logio (pressure in cm of water).
In general, for a y = log(x) function when x is equal to 1.0, y is equal to 0.0 and
when X approaches to 0.0, y goes to very high values (i.e., in a mathemafical term, when
X = 0.0, y = oo). In this mathematical representafion, y may refer to total suction and x
may refer to relative humidity. Therefore, when relative humidity goes to 100 %, total
suction approaches a value of zero.

4.2.2 Osmofic Suction versus Total Suction


For construction ofthe filter pap)er calibration curve obtained in this research, NaCl
solutions were used as the osmotic (or total) sucfion source. The sodium chloride
solutions were plotted at different concentrations versus corresponding osmotic (or total)
suction values obtained from Lang (1967) in order to see the effect ofthe pF unit on the
calibrafion curve. Lang (1967) calculated osmofic potenfials of sodium chloride from

45
osmotic coefficients using electromofive force data and freezing point data methods. The
curves plotted for the kPa and pF units are shown in Figs. 4.1 and 4.2. respectively As
expected, the trend ofthe curves are similar to the trend ofthe curves obtained for
relative humidity versus total suction because there is an inverse direct relationship
between relafive humidity and salt solufions. For example, a high concentration salt
solution maintained at a constant temperature in a closed container has low relativ e
humidity above its surface.

4.2.3 Total Sucfion versus Filter Paper Water Content


Figure 4.3 shows a plot of total (or osmofic) sucfion in kPa units versus filter paper
water contents obtained in this research. In other words, if the suction values in Fig. 3.2
are plotted in kPa units. Fig. 4.3 is obtained. From the figure, it is seen that filter paper
water contents are very sensitive to total suction at high water contents (or low total
suction values).
From the relationships between total suction and relative humidity (i.e.. Figs. 2.1 and
2.2), the total suction and salt solutions (i.e.. Figs. 4.1 and 4.2), and the total suction and
filter paper water contents (i.e.. Figs. 3.2 and 4.3), it can be concluded that the dramatic
decrease in the total suction at high water contents depends on both the logarithm unit
effects (i.e., the natural logarithm from Kelvin's equation and base ten logarithm from pF
unit) and sensitivity ofthe filter papers for absorbing water at low suction values.

4.3 Total Suction and Salt Solufions


Every salt solution has a different osmotic potential and, as a consequence, a
different total suction. It can be seen from Table C. 1 that every saturated salt solution
has a different relative humidity above its surface at isothermal condifions. Since total

46
pj'<3P ^

OS
14000
c
o 12000
otal) Sue

10000

8000
H
otie (or

6000

4000
E
0) 2000

0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0


NaCl solutions in molality

Fig. 4.1. Total sucfion versus NaCl solutions in molality, constructed


using Lang's Table (Lang, 1967)

47
Si — _.,

C
.2 5
o
3
CO 4'
otal)
. . .

i 2
lotic
. . .

b
(0
O 0 r r 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ' ' ' « 1

0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00


NaCl solutions in molality

Fig. 4.2. Osmotic suction versus NaCl solutions in molality, osmotic


coefficients and water potentials of NaCl calculated from
Lang's Table (Lang, 1967).

48
16000
Aug-Sept
14000

12000
1
CO

: 10000 \ 1
o
"o 8000 \ ^

CO
m
"TO 6000 \
o
I- \

4000
\

2000
^ ^ ^ ^
0
0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6
Filter Paper Water Content, w
Fig. 4.3. Total suction calibration curve in kPa units.

49
sucfion is direcfiy related to relafive humidity from Kelvin's equafion, the total suction of
each salt solufion will be different. For example, Houston et al. (1994) used MgNO?,
NH4CI, and CaS04 saturated salt solutions for construction of their total suction
calibration curve, which is reproduced in Fig. 2.8. These salts corresponds to total
suction values of pF 5.96, 5.51, and 4.49, respecfively (Houston et al., 1994).
Furthermore, McQueen and Miller (1968) used Na2S203, Na2S04, and CaS04 saturated
salt solutions for construction of calibration curve which is reproduced in Fig. 2.4. These
salts refers to total suction values of pF 5.53, 5.00, and 4.49, respecfively (McQueen &
Miller, 1968). Osmofic potenfials of sodium chloride and potassium chloride solutions at
different concentrations and temperatures are given in Table C.2 and Table C.3,
respectively. Although, for a given temperature and concentration, osmotic potentials of
two salt solutions are very close, they are, nonetheless, actually different. Both sodium
chloride and potassium chloride are made up of monovalent ions; therefore, their osmotic
potentials are close to each other. However, osmotic potentials of a monovalent and non-
monovalent salt solutions are different (Levine, 1988). This conclusion can also be
inferred from Table C. 1. As a result, each salt solution (i.e., either different saturated salt
solutions or a salt solufion at different concentrations) has a different total suction and,
thus a different capacity to attract water.

4.4 Equilibrafion Time


The suggested minimum equilibration time for calibration of total suction is one
week, but investigators have reported using an equilibration period between 3 to 10 days.
For example, McKeen (1981) adopted a seven day equilibration time for calibration of
upper portion of total suction curve for which potassium chloride salt solutions were
used. In this research, the equilibrafion fime allowed was two weeks (Lee, 1992).

50
The equilibrium relafive humidity above a salt solufion in a sealed container at a
constant temperature is established very quickly, from approximately 30 minutes to 2-3
hours for low and high concentrafions, respectively. However, the filter paper requires a
longer period to absorb water vapor corresponding to the osmotic potential ofthe salt
solution. Figure 4.4 shows a comparison ofthe calibrafion curve developed bv McKeen
(1981) and the calibrafion curve obtained in this research. The whole calibration curve
developed by McKeen (1981) using salt solufions and pressure plates is shown in Fig.
2.5. McKeen (1981) constructed the upper portion of his calibrafion curve using
potassium chloride salt solutions and S & S No. 589 White Ribbon filter papers. The
comparison ofthe curve obtained in this research was made with McKeen's curve
because both used the same type filter papers and osmotic potentials of both potassium
chloride and sodium chloride are close to each other. Therefore, if the osmotic potentials
of salts employed to construct the total suction calibration curves are different, it is not
possible to compare these curves on a one-to-one basis, even if the same type of filter
papers are used. However, although at high suction values both curves are close to each
other, a big difference occurs at low suction values. The reason for this big difference at
low suctions may be due to longer times to make measurements in the tests performed
for this research. In other words, although it took several seconds to make measurements
after opening the glass jars, the fime to take containers from the water bath and open the
containers and then the first glass jar was about ten minutes. Of course, the remaining
glass jars in the container waited longer before measurements to be taken. The
equilibrium temperature was 25°C for the total sucfion calibration of this research. The
outside temperature was around 22°C during filter paper water content measurements.
Therefore, the filter papers may have given up a small amount water because ofthe
temperature difference, and this is may have contributed to the reason for the curve
obtained in this research plotting below McKeen's curve at low suction values.

51
4.5

LL
Q.
C
o
3 3.5
CO
75

2.5

0.18 0.22 0.26 0.30 0.34 0.38 0.42 0.46 0.50


Filter Paper Water Content, w
Fig. 4.4. Comparison of calibration curves.

52
CHAPTER V
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The objective of this research was to invesfigate the total suction calibration curve at
low sucfion values (or high water contents). Two approaches were adopted to
accomplish this objecfive: (1) a total sucfion calibrafion curve was established for
Schleicher & Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon filter papers using sodium chloride salt
solutions; and (2) a technical literature review was done to evaluate everything possible
about the filter paper method based on the most recent knowledge and applying the
principles of chemistry and physics. During observations made from performing
experiments and facts learned from evaluating the technical literature, some conclusions
were deduced about the filter paper method of measuring soil suction.

51 Conclusions
The conclusions that were reached based on the experimental results and
observations made while performing tests and evaluating the technical literature are as
follows.
a. A total suction calibration curve was developed for Schleicher & Shuell No. 589
White Ribbon filter papers and sodium chloride salt solutions. The curve is shown in
Fig. 3.2. To accomplish the calibration, a combination of procedures suggested by the
ASTM standard on the filter paper method (ASTM, 1994), McQueen and Miller (1968),
and McKeen (1985) was followed.
b. From the relationships between total sucfion and relafive humidity (i.e.. Figs. 2.1
and 2.2), total suction and sodium chloride salt solutions (i.e.. Figs. 4.1 and 4.2), and total
sucfion and filter paper water contents (i.e.. Figs. 3.2 and 4.3), it can be concluded that
the dramatic decrease in total sucfion at high water contents depends on both logarithmic

13
unit effects (i.e., the natural logarithm from Kelvin's equafion and base ten logarithm
from pF unit) and sensitivity of filter papers for absorbing water at low suction values.

c. Filter paper is a pooriy graded material, so it has more tendency for absorbing
water at low sucfions similar to poorly graded soils.
d. Total suction calibration is strongly dependent on the typ)e of salt used to make
the salt solutions because every salt solufion has a different osmotic potential and, thus a
different total suction. This is evident from Table C. 1.
e. Temperature fluctuations result in alternating condensations and evapjorations;
therefore, the fluctuafions need to be minimal and certainly less than ± 1°C.

5.2 Recommendations
a. It is recommended that when measuring total suction using the filter paper
method at high water contents, care must be taken about the sensitivity of suction to filter
paper water contents at low suctions. Good laboratory procedure becomes of paramount
importance.
b. It is also recommended that a single salt solution at different concentrations or
several known saturated salt solutions be used for the calibration of total suction. Since
limiting temperature fluctuations and minimum equilibration times are very important for
proper calibration, and if it is going to be difficult to keep temperature fluctuafions low,
it may be suggested that saturated salt solutions are used for total suction calibration
because alternating condensations and evaporations caused by temperature fluctuations
will be less for higher concentration salt solutions. Saturated salt solutions are the
solutions that contain the highest salt concentrations.
c. Difference between the calibration temperature and temperature ofthe place
where filter paper water content measurements will be done should be minimal enough
to avoid evaporations.

54
w IV

d. The effect of purity of water used in making sah solufions during total suction
calibration needs fiirther invesfigafion. The impurities in the water may change the
osmotic potential ofthe solution.
e. For matric suction measurements, filter paper should be adequately inserted into
the soil in order to minimize water vapor flow to the filter paper. Therefore, a good
contact should be established between the soil and filter paper in order to reduce the total
suction component (or increase the matric suction component).

55
REFERENCES

Aitchison, G. D. (1965). Engineering concepts of moisture equilibria and moisture


changes in soils. Moisture Equilibria and Moisture Changes in Soils Beneath
Covered Areas, pp. 67-78, Stoneham, MA: Butterworths.

Al-Khafaf, S., & Hanks, R. J. (1974). Evaluation ofthe filter paper method for
esfimafing soil water potenfial. Soil Science, 117(4), 194-199.

ASTM (1994). Standard test method for measurement of soil potenfial (sucfion)
using filter paper. No; D 5298-94 American Society of Tesfing and Materials.
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, pp. 204-208.

Atkins, P. W. (1994). Physical Chemistry. New York: W. H. Freeman & Company


pp. 321-337.

Campbell, G. S. & Gardner, W. H. (1971). Psychrometric measurement of soil water


potential: Temperature and bulk density effects. Soil Science Society^ of America,
35, 8-12.

Chandler, R. J. & Gufierrez, C. I. (1986). The filter paper method of suction


measurements. Geotechnique, 36,265-268.

Edil, T. B. & Motan, S. E. (1984). Laboratory evaluation of soil suction components.


Geotechnical Testing Journal, 7(4), 173-181.

Fawcett, R. G. & Collis-George (1967). A filter-paper method for determining the


moisture characteristics of soil. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
and Animal Husbandry, 7, 162-167.

Fredlund, D. G. & Morgenstem, N. R. (1977). Stress state variables for unsaturated soils.
Journal ofthe Geotechnical Engineering Division, 103(GT5), 447-466.

Fredlund, D. G. & Rahardjo, H. (1987). Soil mechanics principles for highway


engineering in arid regions. Transportation Research Record No. 1137,
Transportation Research Board, Washington, D C , pp. 1-11.

Fredlund, D. G. & Rahardjo, H. (1993). Soil mechanics for unsaturated soils. New
York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 64-106.

Gardner, R. (1937). A method of measuring the capillary tension of soil moisture over a
wide moisture range. Soil Science, 43(4), 277-283.

56
Hamblin, A. P. (1981). Filter paper method for routine measurement of field water
potential. Journal of Hydrology. 53(3/4), 355-360.

Harrison, B. A. and Blight, G. E. (1995). A comparison of different methods for


calibrating psychrometers and filter paper to measure suction. Presented at 1 st
International Conference on Unsaturated Soils (pp. 1-6). Paris, France.

Hedlin, C. P. and Trofimenkoff, F. N. (1963). Relafive Humidities Over Saturated


Solufions of Nine Salts in the Temperature Range from 0 to 90" F. 1963
International Symposium on Humiditv and Moisture, Division of Building
Research, National Research Council, Saskatoon, Sas katchewan, Canada,
pp. 519-520.

Houston, S. L., Houston, W. N., & Wagner, A. M. (1994). Laboratory filter paper
measurements. Geotechnical Testing Journal, 17(2), 185-194.

International Society of Soil Science (1963). Soil physics terminology. Bullefin No.
23, ISSS, 7-10.

Jury, W. A., Gardner, W. R., & Gardner, W. H. (1991). Soil Physics. New York: John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 34-65.

Krahn, J. & Fredlund, D. G. (1972). On total, matric, and osmotic suction. Soil Science,
114(5). 339-348.

Lang, A. R. G. (1967). Osmotic coefficients and water potentials of sodium chloride


solufions from 0 to 40°C. Australian Journal of Chemistry, 20, 2017-2023.

Lee, H. C. (1991). An evaluation of instruments to measure soil moisture condifion.


M.Sc. Thesis, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

Levine, LN.( 1988). Physical Chemistry. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., pp. 279-326.

McKeen, R. G. (1976). Design and construction of airport pavements on expansive


soils. (Report No. FAA-RD-76-66), Federal Aviation Administration,
Washington,DC, pp. 116-120.

McKeen, R. G. & Nielson, J. P. (1978). Characterizing expansive soils for ainjort


pavement design. (Report No. FAA-RD-78-59), Federal Aviation Administration,
Washington, D.C., pp. 2-5.

McKeen, R. G. (1980). Field studies of airport pavement on expansive clay. Proceedings


4th International Conference on Expansive Soils, i, 242-261, ASCE, Denver,
Colorado.
57
McKeen, R. G. (1981). Design of airport pavements on expansive soils. (Report No.
FAA-RD-81-25), Federal Aviafion Administrafion, Washington, D C , pp. 48-85.

McKeen, R. G. (1985). Validafion of procedures for pavement design on expansive soils.


(Report No. DOT/FAA/PM-85/15), Federal Aviafion Administrafion, Washington.
D.C., pp. 67-90.

McKeen, R. G. (1995). Personal correspondence. University of New Mexico,


Albuquerque, New Mexico.

McQueen, I. S. & Miller, R. F. (1968). Calibrafion and evaluation of a wide-range


gravimetric method for measuring moisture stress. Soil Science, 106(3). 225-231.

Mitchell, J. K.( 1993). Fundamentals of soil behavior. New York: John Wiley & Sons,
Inc., pp. 100-130.

Quitevis, E. L. (1995). Personal correspondence. Department of Chemistry, Texas Tech


University, Lubbock, Texas.

Richards, B. G. (1974). Behavior of unsaturated soils. Soil mechanics-New horizons,


I. K. Lee, Ed. New York: American Elsevier, pp. 112-157.

Ridley, A. M. (1995). Discussion on "Laboratory Filter Paper Sucfion Measurements" by


Sandra L. Houston, William, N. Houston, and Anne-Marie Wagner. Geotechnical
Tesfing Journal. GTJODJ, 18(3), 391-396.

Sands, R. & Reid, C. P. P. (1980). The osmofic potenfial of soil water in plant/soil
systems. Australian Journal of Soil Reservation, 18, 13-25.

Snethen, D. R. & Johnson, L. D. (1980). Evaluation of soil suction from filter paper.
(Report No. Miscellaneous Paper GL-80-4). Washington, DC, Assistant Secretary
ofthe Army., pp. 4-28.

Swarbrick, G. E. (1995). Measurement of soil sucfion using the filter paper method.
Presented at 1st International Conference on Unsaturated Soils (pp. 653-658)
Paris, France.

van der Raadt, P., Fredlund, D. G., Clifton, A. W., Klassen, M. J., & Jubien, W. E.
(1987). Soil suction measurements at several sites in Western Canada
(Transportafion Research Record 1137, pp. 24-35). Washington, DC:
Transportation Research Board, National Research Council.

58
in:

Wexler, A. and Hasegawa, S. (1954). Relafive humidity-temperature relationships of


some saturated salt solutions in the temperature range O'' to 50T. Journal of
Research ofthe National Bureau of Standards, 53( 1), pp. 19-26.

Williams, O. B. & Sedgley, R. H. (1965). A simplified filter paper method for


determining the 15-atmosphere percentage of soils. Australian Journal of
Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, 5(18), 201-202.

Zartman, R. E. (1995). Personal correspondence. Department of Soil Science, Texas


Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

59
APPENDDC A
CONVERSION UNITS

60
Table A. 1. Soil sucfion conversion factors (From Lee, 1991).

1 bar = 0.987 atm


1,019.784 cm of water
14.503 psi
100.000 kPa
= 1.013 dyne/cm^

1 cm of water = 9.678 X 10-4 atm


= 9.806 X 10-"^ bar
= 1.422 x 10-2 psi
= 9.806 X 10-2 kPa
= 9.806 X 102 dyne/cm2

^
1 psi 6.805 X 10-2 atm
= 70.314 cm of water
= 6.895 x 10-2 bar
= 6.985 kPa
= 6.895 x 104 dyne/cm2

^
IkPa 0.869 X 10-3 atm
= 10.198 cm of water
= 0.145 psi
= 0.010 bar
0.0001 dyne/cm2

61
•%tl

cm of water bars psi kPa dyne/cm atm


7 -I 10' -3 10* - lo' -. 10^ loS
10 -zi

6 - 10' -J ^o' d 10 - 10 10 -:
10

5 - n'i. 100 -
10=^ H
10 10«H 100 -:

4 - 10* d 10 - 10 - 10^^ 10 -
100 -

1000-: 0.981 14.2 98.1 -980,600-:-0.968-=-


10

2 - 100 - 0.1 - 10 - 10^-4 0.1-


1 -

1 - 10 - 0.01 -: 1.0 - 10- 0.01-


0.1 -

1 -i 0.001 -J
0.01 -I
0.1 -I 10 -J 0.001 J

Figure A.l. Graphical presentafion of conversion units (From Lee, 1991).

62
APPENDIX B
ASTM D 5298 - 92 STANDARD TEST METHOD FOR
MEASUREMENT OF SOIL POTENTIAL (SUCTION)
USING FILTER PAPER

63
Designation: D 5298 - 92

Standard Test Method for


Measurement of Soil Potential (Suction) Using Filter Paper^
This tundard is btucd mder ihe 6xed dai(BMiea D J » » ; the number immediaidy foOowint ihe da«iutioa lodicaia the y«v of
oniinil •<k»piioo or. m the c»«e oTievwo^ the yt«f of Ua irnioft. A number in iwreniheKi iBdicai^
wpencnpi eptiloa (<) lodicMei tn editorial d M ^ oace Ike last icviaoo or lopprovaL

1. Scope D4542 Test Method for Pore-Water Extraction and Deter-


I.I This lest method coven the use of labontoiy filter mination of the Solute Salt Content of Soils by
papers as passive sensors to evaluate the sofl matric (matrix) Refractometer*
and total potential (suction), a measure ofthe free energy of D4753 Specification for Evaluating, Selecting, and Speci-
the pore-water or tension stress exerted on the poiv-water by fying Balances and Scales for Use in Soil and Rock
the soil matrix (1, 2).^ The term potential or suction is Testing*
descnptive of the energy sutus of soil water. £ 337 Test Method for Measuring Humidity With a
12 This test method controls the variables for measuiv- Psychrometer (the Measurement of Wet- and Dry-Bulb
ment of the water content of filter paper that is in direct Temperatures)^
conuct with soil or in equilibrium with the partial pressure E 832 Specification for Laboratory Filter Papers*
of water vapor in the air of an airtight container endosing a
soil qieamen. The partial pressure of water vapor in the air
3. Terminology
IS assumed to be in equilibrium with the vapor pressure of
pore-water in the soil specimen. 3.1 Definil ions:
1.3 This lest method provides a procedure for calibrating 3.1.1 Refer to TcnninoIog>' D 653 for definitions of terms
difrerem types of filter paper for use in evaluating soil matric applicable to this icsi method.
and toiaJ potential. 3 J. Descriptions of Terms Specific to This Standard:
1.4 The values staled in SI units are to be regarded as the 3.2.1 atmosphere—a unit of pressure equal to 76 cm
sundard. The inch-pound uniu given in parentheses are mercury or 101 kPa at 0*C.
approximate and for information only. 3.2J matric (matrix) suaion, hm (kPa)—the negative
1.5 This standard does not purport to address all ofthe pressure (expressed as a positive value), relative to ambient
safety problems, if any, associated with its use. Il is the atmospheric pressure on the sofl water, to wtiich a solution
responsibility ofthe user of this standard to establish appro- identical in composition with the soU water must be sub-
priate safely and health praaices and determine the applica- jected in order to be in equilibrium through a porous
bility tf regulatory limitations prior to use. permeable wall with the sofl water, pressure equivalent to
that measured by Test Methods D 2325 and D 3152. Matric
2. Referenced Documents suction is also the decrease in relative humidity due to the
diflerence in air and water pressure across the water surface;
2.1 ASTM Standards: the relative humidity or water vapor pressure decreases as the
C 114 Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Hydraulic radius of curvature of the water surbce decreases. The term
Cement' "matric" is grammatically correct, whfle matrix is commonly
D6S3 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained used in the civfl engineering literature.
Ruids* 3.2.3 molality, moles/1000 g—number of moles of solute
D112S Test' Method for Dectrical Conductivity and per 1000 g of solvent
Resistivity of Water* 3.2.4 mole, n—molecular weight of a subsunce in grams.
D2216 Test Method for Laboratory Determination of 3.2.5 osmotic (solute) suaion. hs (kPa)—the negative
Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock^ pressure to which a pool of pure water must be subjected in
D232S Test Method for Capillary-Moisture Relationships order to be in equilibrium through a semipermeable mem-
for Coarse and Medium-Textured Soils by Porous-Plate brane with a pool containing a solution identical in compo-
Apparatus^ sition with the sofl water, decrease in relative humidity due
D31S2 Test Method for Capillary-Moisture Relationships to the presence of dissolved salts in pore-water.
for Finc-Textured Soils by Pressure-Membrane 3.2.6 pf—a unit of negative pressure expressed as the
Apparatus^ logarithm to the base 10 ofthe height in centimeters that a
column of water willriseby capillary action or negative gage
pressure (Mg/m^) divided by the unit weight of water
' Thn leit method it under the juriidiciion of ASTM Committee I>-11 on Soil
•nd Rock and n the direct •csponubiliiy ofSubcommitiee DI8.04 oo Hydroiopc
(Mg/m^) times 1000. pF s 3 + logarithm to the base 10 of
Proprnici of Soil and RocU the negative pressure in atmospheres. Refer to capillary head
Cumnt edition approved Sept. IS. 1992. Published November 1992. or capillary nsc in Terminology D 653.
' The boldbce numbcn jiven in parcniheaes refer to a lisi of refemicet at the
end of the led.
3.2.7 5oi7 relative humidity. R^—the ratio of the vapor
' Annual Book of ASTM Standards. Vol 04 01
' Annual Bool €if ASTM Siandardi. Vol 04 08
> Annual Hook of ASTM Siondotdi. Vol 11.01. ' Annual Book al ASTM Siandardi. Vol 15.09

64
(Slh D 5298
pressure of pore water in the soil to the vapor pressure of free or Schleicher and Schuell No. 589 White Ribbon. A suiuble
pure water. Relative humidity in the sofl is defined as relative diameter is 5.5 cm {22 in.).
humidity measured by Test Method E 337. 6.2 Specimen Container, 115 to 230 g (4 to 8 oz) capacity
3.2.8 total potential (kPa)—\he sum of graviutional, pres- metal or glass (rust free) container and lid (for example,
sure, osmotic, and external gas potentials. Potential may be coated with zinc diromate to retard rusting) to contain the
identified with suction when graviutional and external gas specimen and filter papers. The inside of these containers
potentials are neglected. may also be coated with wax toretardrusting.
3.2.9 total soil suaion. h (kPa)—the negative pressure, 6.3 Filter Paper Container—This container holds filter
relative to the external gas pressure on the sofl water, to paper following the equiUbration of suction and removal
which a pool of pure water must be subjected to be in from the specimen container.
equUibrium with the soil water through a semipermeable 6.3.1 Metal Container Alternate, two oomiiud 60 g (2 oz)
membrane that is permeable to water molecules only. Total capacity metal moisture containers (aluminum or stainless)
sofl suction (expressed as a positive value) is the sum of with lids to dry the fflter paper. The containers should be
osmotic (solute) and matric (matrix) suctions. numbered by imprinting with a metal stamp. The containers
3.2.10 vapor pressure of free pure water (kPa)—the satu- should not be written on with any type of marker or labelled
ration vapor pressure of free pure water at a given dry-bulb in any manner. Throw-away vinyl surgical non-powdered or
temperature. similar ^oves should be used anytime the small oontainen
3.2.11 vapor pressure of pore water in soil (kPa)—4l,e designated for fflter paper measurements are handled to
partial pressure of water vapor that is in equilibrium with prevent body oils from influencing any mass measurements
pore-water in soil at a given dry-bulb temperature. made prior to handling.
6.32 Plastic Bag Alternate—T^astic bag large enough to
4. Summary of Test Method accommodate the fUter paper disks (approximately 50 mm
4.1 Rlter papers are placed in an airtight container with a in dimension) capaUe of an airtight seal.
spcamcn for seven days to allow sufficient time for the vapor 6.4 Insulated Chest—^A box of approximately 0.03 m' (I
pressure of pore-waicr in ihc specimen, vapor pressure of fl^) capacity insulated with foamed polystyrene or other
pore water in the filter paper, and partial vapor pressure of material capable of maintaining temperature within ±\'C
water in the air inside the container to reach equilibrium. when cxicmal temperatures vary ±3*C.
The mass ofthe filter papers is subsequently determined and 6.5 Balance—A balance or scale having a minimum
the suction ofthe specimen is determined from a calibration capacity of 20 g and meeting the requirements of 4 J. 1.1 of
relationship of the filler paper water content with suction Specification C 114, for a balance of 0.0001 g readabflity. In
applicable to the type offilterpaper and the test procedure of addition, balances for performance of Test Method D 2216.
this test method. meeting requirements of Specification D 4753.
6.6 Drying Oven, thermostaticaOy-controIled, preferably
5. Significance and Use of the forced-<lraft type, and capable of maintaining a
5.1 Sofl suction is a measure of the free energy of the uniform temperature of 110 ± S'C throughout the drying
pore-water in a soU. Soil suction in practical terms is a dumber and meeting reqtiiiements of Test Method D 2216.
measure ofthe affinity of soil to retain water and can provide 6.7 Metal Block—K metal block > 500 g mass with a flat
information on soil parameters that are influenced by the surface to hasten cooling of the metal tare cans.
soil water, for example, volume change, deformation, and 6.8 Thermomaer—An instrument to determine the tem-
strength diaracteristics ofthe soil. perature ofthe tested sofl to an accuracy of ± r c
52 Sofl suction isrelatedwith sofl water content through 6.9 Miscellaneous Equipment, tweezers, trimming knife,
water retention charaaeristic curves (see Test Method flexible plastic electrical tape, 0-rings, screen wire, brass
D 2325). Soil water content may be found from Test Method discs, etc Tweezers should be at least 110 mm (4.5 in.) in
D22I6. length.
5.3 Measurements of soil suction may be used with other 7. Calibratioa
sofl and environmental parameters to evaluate hydrologic 7.1 Obtain a calibration curve applicable to a specific
processes (1) and to evaluate the potential for heave or fflter paper by following the procedure in Section 8, except
shrinkage, shear strength, modulus, in situ stress, and hy- for replacing the sofl specimen with salt solutions such as
draulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. reagent grade potassium chloride or sodium chloride of
5.4 The filter paper method of evaluating suction is known molality in distilled water.
simple and economical with arangefrom 10 to 100 000 kPa 7.1.1 Suspend the fflter paper above at least 50 cc of a salt
(0.1 to 1000 bars). solution in the specimen container, see 6.2, by placing it on
an improvised platform made of inert material such as
6. Apparatus plastic tubing or stainless steel screen.
6.1 Filter Paper—The paper used must be ash-free quan- 7.1.2 Calculate the suction of the fflter paper from the
tiutive Type II filter paper, in accordance with Specification relative humidity of the air above the solution by the
E 832; for example. Whatman No. 42. Fisherbrand 9-790A. following

65
# D 5298

A•
9
InRt
(I) re
whcrr c
h « suaion, kPa,
R - ideal gas consunt, 8.31432 Joules/mole K,
•I
/ « absolute temperature, degrees kelvin (K),
V • volume of a mole of liquid water, 0.018 kilomoles/m*
and
/?*•relativehumidity, fraction.
7.1.3 Use sundard critical Ubles to evaluate the relative J VI
humidity of water in equflibrium with the salt solution as • M i B j » « i i » « i » a i "
FILTER PAPrR WATER COWTtKT « , . PERCCMT
Illustrated in Table I. Refer to Test Method E 337 for further
information onrelativehumidity. FIG. 1 CaOtHStion Suctlon-Wataf Content CurvM for Waiting of
7.2 Typical caUbration curves for filter papers (for ex- Fitter Paper (3) (Coefficient of Octennination r > a 9 9 )
ample, Whatman No. 42, Schleicher and SchueU No. 589),
see Rg. 1, consists of two parts. The upper segment NOTE 2—When the soi] is not sufficiently moot, adequate physical
represents moisture retained as films adsorbed to particle contan between the filter paper and soil may not ahrays be possibte.
surfaces, whfle the lower segment represents moisture re- This can cause an inaccurate measure of matric suction. Matiic suction
tained by capfllary or surface tension forces between parti- may be inferred by subtracting Ihe osmooc suction from the touJ
cles. The filter paper water content break point is »iv « suction. The osmotic Miction may be determined by measunng the
eJectrical conductivity (see Test Method D 1125) of port-w«er extiaaed
45.3 % for Whatman No. 42 (3, 4) and MV -= 54 % for from the soil using a porefluidsqueezer (6) or using Test Method
Schleicher and Schuell No. 589 (2,4). D4542: a calibration curve (7) may be used to rcbic the elenricai
7.3 The calibration curves in Fig. 1 are applicable to total conductivity lo the osmotic suction.
suction (2, 5). Variability in results is less than 2 % of the
8.3 Filter Paper riacemeni—Place an inua soil specimen
suction above 100 kPa. Soil disturbance has minimal influ-
or fragments of a sofl sample, 115 to 230 g mass, in the
ence on suaion above 20 kPa. At moisture contents with
specimen container. The soil specimen should nearly fill the
suaions less than 20 kPa. sample disturbance incrcasei
^jccimen container to reduce equflibration time and lo
variability of measurement (2, 4). The right vertical axis of
minimize suction changes in the specimeiL
Fig. 1 provides the suaion in units pF and atmospheres
pressure; for example, A >= 2 log atmospheres is a suction of 8.3.1 Measurement of Total Suaion—Remove two filter
100 atmospheres, while pF = 5 or 100 000 cm water. papers from the derlccator and immediatdy place over the
specimen, but isolatr from the specimen by inserting screen
NOTE I—Filter paper may be calibnied by using the prcsiire wire, O-rings, or other inert item with minimal surface area
membrane.Tea Method D3152 forihelange 100to 1500kPa(I to 15 between the filter papers and the sofl, see Fig. 2(a). A filter
aim), and the ceramic plate. Test Method D 2325 for the range 10 to paper edge should be bent up or ofTsa slightly to hasten later
100 kPa (0.1 10 I urn). removal of the fflter paper from these large containers with
tweezers, see 8.6.
8. Procedore 8.3J Measuremr:! of Matric Suaion—Place three
8.1 Filter Paper Preparation—Dry filter papers seleacd sucked filter papers in conua with the sofl specimen, see
for testing at least 16 h or overnight in the drying oven. Place Fig. 2(b). The outer filter papers prevent sofl contamination
filter papers in a desiccant jar over desiccant after drying for of the center filter paper used for analysis of the mairic
storage until use. suaion. The outer filter papcn should be slightly larger in
diamaer than the center filter paper. This can be accom-
8.2 Measurement of Suaion—Total suaion will be mea-
plished by cutting the center paper so that the diameter is at
sured if filter papers are not in conua with the soil
least 3 to 4 mm smaller than the outer fUter papers. This will
specimen. Moisture transfer will be limited to vapor transfer
help prevent dirca soil conua with the center filter paper.
through the air inside the specimen container. Matric suaion
v^ill be measured if thefilterpaper is in physical conua with 8.4 Equilibrating Si/fl/on—Put the lid of the specimen
the sofl. Physical conua between the soil and filter paper conuiner in place and seal with at least one wrapping of
allows fluid transfer including transfer of salts that may be plastic elearical upe. Then place the sealed container in an
dissolved in the pore water. insulted chest and place in a location with temperature
variations less than 3*C. A typical nominal temperature is
20*C. The suction ofthe filter paper and the specimen in the
TABLE 1 Salt Sohftion Concentration* for Evaluating SoH Suction conuiner should be allowed to come to equflibration for a
20*0 minimum of seven days.
gNaO CKO
kPa logkPa pF atm fl. NoTt 3—If filler papers are placed wiih soil specimens while in the
1000 mL 1000 n4. field, the filter papers should be oven dried ovemighi then stored in an
•valor walor
ainighi conuiner over desiccant to minimize moisture in ihe filter
-98 1.99 30 -097 099927 U 1.7 paper. Moisture in the filler paper prior lo lesiing expands the fibers and
-310 249 35 -302 0.99774 3.8 5J alters the fitter paper void space thai may lead to a change in the
-980 299 40 - 9 68 099278 13.1 170 calibration curve ofthe filter paper. The insulated chest while in Ihe field
-3099 3 49 45 - 3 0 19 0.97764 39.0 527
should be kept in the shade during hot summer days and in a healed
-9800 399 50 - 9 6 77 093008 122.5 1650
area during cold winter days The chesi with Ihe scaled conuinrn

66
Qi 0 5298
should be placed in a lemperatuic conuoJled room at about ITC M„ " mass of water in the filter paper, g and
following return from the field. ^ ^
Tf •• mass of the cold filter paper container, g
NOTE 4—EquiUbmioo of suctiaa between the soil, filter paper and
«ir m Ihe dosed ooniainer is the desired resuh of the equilibr^on
8.8 Equilibrating Temperature:
penod. h must be itcogniied thai the equilibration proctss ij depeadcnt 8.8.1 Metal Container Alternate—Flux the metal filter
upon Ute initial suction of the soil initial idauve humidity of the air paper containeis in an oven at 110 ± 5*C with the lids
»oU mass, and spKx in the coaiaioer. The seven day period is sufficient slightly adjar or unsealed to permit moisture to escape. The
for conditions oonnaily involved in soil mechanics; however, under containeis shouldremainin the oven for a minimum of 2 h.
many ooaditions cquilibrauon wiO be completed more quickly. TTiis After the minimum time, seal the oontainen and leave in the
suction measurement must avoid ooodensation so tbennosutic control
may be necessary. Sample temperature control during equilibratioa will
oven for at least 15 min to allow temperature equflibration.
ensure that condensation effects aic minimized. Sumng the tpeamen Remove the tares from the oven and then determine in mass
containen oonuiniag UK soil specimen and filter paper in a therroo- to 0.(XX)1 g to calculate the dry total mass:
sttiic box (for example, ice chest) made of polystyrene insulation and V, - M^-t- Tt, (3)
packing expanded vemiculiie or similar material around the box wiO
help minimize thermal fluauations. It is possible u> limit thermal where:
fluauaiioos to ±0.0IT twith such an insulation scheme. A/2 * dry total mass, g. and
Tl, « hot container mass. g.
8.5 Predetermining Mass cf Filter Paper Containers—At NOTE 5—If the fiher papa oontaioen air metaL diey should be
the end of the equflibration period, place each of the two placed 00 a metal block for approximately M s lo cooL The metal block
filter papers, if total suction is to be measured, or the cento- acts as a heal sink and will reduce the tenperuure variation during
filter paper of a three-layer stack, if matrix suction is to be determination of mass. Immediately remove and discard the filter paper
measured, in a separate fflter paper container of predeter- and redetermine the mass ofthe filter paper container to 0.(XX}l g. thai
mined mass. Determine the mass to the nearest 0.0001 g, is the mass of the hot container. T^ This procedure is repealed for
designated T^ (tare-cold), before the specimen container is additional containers.
removed from the insulated chest. It is suggested that the 8.8.2 Plastic Bag Alternate—Place the fflter paper in the
mass ofthe fflter paper conuiner be determined immediately drying oven for a minimum of 2 h, then place in a desiccant
prior to determining the total mass of the filter paper and jar over sifica jel or sundard desiccant to cool for a
filler paper container. minimum of 2 to 3 min. Place in the plastic bag and
8.6 Transferring the Filter Papers—Utilizing a pair of daermine the mass (M^ from Eq 3. Remove thefilterpaper
tweezers, transfer each filter paper from the specimen and determine the final mass ofthe plastic bag (T^).
container into a metal container alternate or plastic bag 8.8.3 Once the masses ofthe dried fflter papers have been
altenute of predetermined mass (7V). This entire process daermined, discard the fflter papers. Under no circum-
must be completed in 3 to 5 s. The key to successful stances shall oven-dried filter papers be re-used in con-
measurements of fflter paper water content is to minimize ducting this test method.
water loss during transfer of filter paper from the specimen
container and during mass determination prior to oven 9. Calcolatioa
drying Observations have been made of 5 % or more mass
loss due to evaporation during a 5 to 10 s exposure of the 9.1 Calculate the foUowing for each fflter paper
filter paper to room humidity of 30 to 50 R^. Mf'M^-T„ (4)
8.6.1 Metal Container Alternate—Place lids loosdy on A / , - ^ , - ^ , + r»-7; (5)
metal container alternates (not ajar). Care must be taken to from the measured quantities:
seal the metal container altenute after each transfer, that is,
take the fflter paper from the specimen container and place V„JI/,. r^andj;
the filter paper into a metal container, then seal the NOTE 6—The hot container mass, T^ may be conssiently less than
container. Repeat this procedure for the second filter paper the cold tare mass, T^ if metalfilterpaper containers are used because of
using the second container of predetermined mass if total the loss of surface adsortmi moisture when heated. Air currents from
rising of air heated by Ihe hot metal tare may also ooniribute to a smaller
suaion is to be determined. The containers should be sealed hot tare mass. The average difTetciioe between hoi and cold tare mass for
as quickly as possible to ensure that ambient air does not 69 measurements is 4.6 ± 0.9 % of Ihe filler paper mass and must be
alter the moisture condition of the soil specimen or fflter considered if measurements of ifaefilterpaper mass are lo have an error
papers. less ihan 5 %. No lest results are available for plastic bags.
8.6.2 Plastic Bag Alternate—Quickly transfer a filter 9.2 The water content ofthe fflter paper, Wf, bv mass is as
paper to a plastic bag of predetermined initial mass and seal follows:
the bag. Repeat this procedure for additional fflter papers.
8.7 Determining Mass of Filter Paper and Filter Paper w,- -^-100
Containers—Immediately determine the mass of each ofthe (6)
filter paper containeis with the filter papers to the nearest where:
O.OOOlg. This mass. A/„ is Wj = (flier paper water content, percent
M^-Mf* M.,+ T, (2) 9.3 Convert the filler paper water content. Wf, to a suaion
value by reference to a calibration curve or calculate the
where: suaion from the following-
A/, « toul mass of filter paper container and filter paper
A - m'Hy+ A (7)
prior to oven drying, g
A// - mass of dry filter paper, g. where:

67
Qi D 5298


IM^Mfcato

izs::x..^ g_. ^__ ^_ »_ - _,


amtm.mm.. <.
.tmt..m... •s
• iatoa^a •l

~<—im. \
A. Total Sudian B. Matrix Sucton
•S-Vl
"•
FKa. 2 Setup lor EquHlbrating Suction In Large Contatnar
••
<m,.m,.{..\,

•"»! ••
m slope of fflter paper calibration curve, logio kPa/% I«..«l
water content, and ,
b • intercept ofthe fflter paper calibration, logic kP*.
9.4 A calibration curve defined by Eq 7 is unique for eadi FKL 3 Evaluation of Sol Suction Uaing Fitter Paper
type of filter paper and consists of a line with a relatively
steep slope and a relatively fiat slope, see Fig. 2. Take the 10.3 Report the salinity ofthe pore water if determined to
suction determined from the calibration curve as the average permit evaluation of osmotic suction and calculation of
ofthe suctions evaluated from the water contents if two filter matric suaion hm - h — hs.
papers were used to daermine the soil suction. Discard the
test results if the difference in suction between the two fflter 11. Precision and Bias
papers exceeds 0.5 log kPa. 11.1 Precision—DaU are being evaluated to daermine
the precision of this test method. In addition. Subcommittee
10. Report D 18.04 is seeking pertinent dau from users of this test
10.1 Figure 3 is an example dau shea for evaliuting sofl method.
suaion using fflter paper. 11.2 Bias—^There is no accepted reference value for this
10.2 Report the sofl water content corresponding to the test method, therefore, bias cannot be determined.
total soU suction, temperature of measurement and eqtiili-
bration time, method of calibrating filter paper, and bulk 12. Kejrwords
density of soil 12.1 filter paper, soflrelativehumidity; sofl suction

REFERENCES

(1) McQueen, I. S.. and Miller, R. F.^ "Determination of Soil Moisture (4) Orig. Footnote 12 in text
Potential,'' Water in ihe Unuuurcaed Zone, Rijtcma. P. E . and (5) Fawcett. R. G., and CoUis-Geoige. N.. "A Filter Paper Method for
Wassink. H., Editors, Int. Assoc. Sd. Hyd. Pub. No. 82. 1968, pp. Determining the Moisture Characteristic of SdH," Australian
147-155. Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Vol
(2) McQueen, I. S.. and Miller. R. F., "Calibration and Evaluation ofa 7. 1967, pp. 162-167.
Wide Range Craximetric Method for Measuring Moir.ure Stress," (6) Manheim, F. T., "A Hydraulic Squeezer for Obtaining Interstitial
Soil Science, Vol 106. No. 3, 1968, pp. 225-231. Water from Consolidated and Unconsolidated Sediment." Geolog-
(3) Greacen, E. L, Walker, G. R., and Cook, P. G., "Evaluation of Uie ical Survey Research 1966, Chapter C, MS. Geological Survey
Filler Paper Method for Measuring Soil Water Suction," Interna- Professional Paper 55M1, pp. C256-C26I.
lional Conference on Measurement of Soil and Plant Water Status. (7) United Sutes Salinity Laboratory StafT, Diagnosis and Improve-
Logan. LTT, 1987. p. 138: "Procedure for Ihe Filler Paper Method meru of Saline and Alkali Soils, VS.DJi. Agricultural Handbook
of Measuring Soil Water Suction," Division of Soils, Repon 108, No. 60. Richards, L A., editor, U.S. Department of Agncullure,
CSIRO, Glen Osmond, South Australia, Australia. Washington, D.C., 1954, p. 15.

68
APPENDIX C
RELATIVE HUMIDITIES AND OSMOTIC POTENTIALS
OF SOME SALT SOLUTIONS

69
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72
APPENDIX D
'SEPTEMBER" DATA VALUES USED IN CALIBRATION OF
TOTAL SUCTION CURVE

73

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29.4021 29.1214 31.2760 29.5440 31.3663 29.0984

78
Mass of Dry Filter
Paper, g (M2-Th) 0.2079 0.2064 0.1894 0.2103 0.1929 0.2085
Mass of Water in Filter

^
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Paper, g(M1-M2-Tc+Th) 0.0410 0.0412 0.0363 0.0410 0.0356 0.0383
Water Content of Filter

s
Paper, g (Mw / Mf) 0.1972 0.1996 0.1916 0.1949 0.1846 0.1837

sz
Suction, pF
4.80 4.80 4.86 4.86 4.92 4.92

sz
Suction, cm of water
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Molality, M 1.9M 1.9M 2.1 M 2.1 M 2.3 M 2.3 M

O
in
in

CD

CN
CO
CM

CD
Moisture Tin No.
Top Filter Paper/ Bottom
Top/Bottom Top/ Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom

X
1_
_

V
a
o

Z
(D

CD
oT
o
1-
Cold Tare Mass, g 9396 83
30.4014 29.8535 29.4641 29.4463 29.4171
Mass of Wet Filter Paper + I.Z69 63
8669 63
Cold Tare Mass, g 30.6354 30.0844 29.6550 29.1820
Mass of Dry Filter Paper +

CM
Z809 63
Hot Tare Mass, g 30.5891 30.0379 29.6530 29.6482 29.1384

JC
Hot Tare Mass, g Z086 63
30.3912 29.8414 29.4514 29.4334 29.4043

79
Mass of Dry Filter
Paper, g (M2-Th) 0.1979 0.1965 0.2016 0.2148 0.2044 0.1877
Mass of Water in Filter

^
^
0980 0 0988 0
Paper, g (Ml-M2-Tc+Th) 0.0361 0.0344 0.0341 0.0317
Water Content of Filter

g
Paper, g (Mw / Mf) 0.1824 0.1751 0.1691 0.1676 0.1639 0.1689

.c
O

Suction, pF 309
iri
CN

4.97 4.97 5.07 507

.c
Suction, cm of water 116,857.05
94,228.04 94,228.04 105,394.68 105,394.68 116,857.05

.c
Suction, kPa
9,240 9,240 10,335 10,335 11,459 11,459
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Molality, M 2.5 M 2.5 M 2.7 M 2.7 M

CD
CD
CD

oo

oo

CO
Moisture Tin No.
Top Filter Paper/ Bottom
Top/Bottom Top/ Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom Top/Bottom

L
L
L_

a
o

ID
ID
_

CD
o
Cold Tare Mass, g 3388 63
29.8314 29.7131 30.2848
Mass of Wet Filter Paper +

i
8089 63
Cold Tare Mass, g 30.0664 29.9573 30.5241
Mass of Dry Filter Paper + 3IAI
Hot Tare Mass, g 30.0213 29.9103 29.5851 30.4791

1-
Hot Tare Mass, g 9669 63 Z0Z863
29.8191 30.2731

80
Mass of Dry Filter
Paper, g (M2-Th) 0.2022 0.2107 0.2144 0.2060

<*—
Mass of Water in Filter

^
S
88800
Paper, g (Ml-M2-Te+Th) 0.0328 0.0335 0.0337
Water Content of Filter

s
Paper, g (Mw / Mf) 0.1622 0.1590 0.1572 0.1616

sz
Suction, pF
5.11 5.11 5.15 5.15

.c
Suction, cm of water
128,625.36 128,625.36 140,699.61 140,699.61

JC
Suction, kPa
12,613 12,613 13,797 13,797
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