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1. INTRODUCTION: Compaction is defined as the densification of a fill by mechanical means. This physical process of getting soil into a dense state can increase the shear strength, decrease the compressibility, and decrease the permeability of the soil. The most common method that is used to access the quality of field compaction of a structural fill is to determine the relative compaction. The Proctor, or Modified Proctor Test, determines the maximum density of a soil needed for a specific job site. The test first determines the maximum density achievable for the materials and uses this figure as a reference. Secondly, it tests the effects of moisture on soil density. The soil reference value is expressed as a percentage of density. These values are determined before any compaction takes place to develop the compaction specifications. Modified Proctor values are higher because they take into account higher densities needed for certain typed of construction projects. Test methods are similar for both tests.

2. OBJECTIVE : To obtain the maximum value of dry density and the optimum moisture content.


At the end of this experiment, students are able to: a. Understand the relationship between dry density and moisture content for a given degree of compactive effort b. Understand the moisture content for the most efficient compaction. c. Obtain the maximum dry density can be achieved for particular type of soil.

1. THEORY Compaction of soil the process by which the solid particles are packed more closely together by mechanical means, thus increasing the dry density, Markwick, 1994. it is achieved through the reduction of the air voids in the soil. At low moisture content, the soil grain is surrounded by a thin film of water, which tends to keep the grains apart even when compacted. In addition of more water, up to certain point, more air to be expelled during compaction. At the point, soil grains become as closely packed together as they can, that is at the dry density is at its maximum. When the amount of water exceeds the required to achieve this condition, the excess water begin to push particles apart, so the dry density reduced. The moisture content at which the greatest value of dry density achieved for the given compaction effort is the optimum moisture content, (OMC), and the corresponding dry density is the maximum dry density

Figure 1: Relationship between dry density (Pd) against moisture content w for several types of soil.

2. TEST EQUIPMENTS 1. Cylindrical metal mould, internal dimensions 105mm diameter and 115.5mm high. (fitted with a detachable and removable extension collar. 2. Metal rammer with 50mm diameter face weighing 205kg, sliding freely in a tube which controls the height of drop to 300mm 3. Measuring cylinder; 200ml or 500ml (plastic) 4. 20mm BS sieve and receiver 5. Large metal tray 6. Electronic balance 7. Jacking apparatus for extracting compacted material from mould. 8. Small tools: palette knife, steel-straight edge, 300mm long, steel rule, scoop or garden trowel 9. Drying oven, 105-110C and other equipment for moisture content determination.

Figure 2 : Mould base plate and the metal rammer

1. PROCEDURES 1. Veify the mould, baseplate, extension, collar and rammer to be used are those that conform to BS 1377. weight the mould body to the nearest 1g (m 1). Measure its internal diameter (D)mm and length (L)mm in several places and calculate the mean dimensions. 2. Calculate the internal volume of the mould (V)mm3 using
V =

D2 L 4000

Apply with an oily cloth on the internal surface of mould to ease the removal of soil later on. 3. Measure the empty metal tray and 5kg of air dried soil sample that the has passing through sieve no.4 (4.75mm) 4. Place the mould assembly on a solid base, such as concrete floor. Add loose soil so that after eacch sequence of compaction the mould will be one-third filled.

5. Compact the soil by applying 27 blows of the rammer dropping from the controlled height of the 300mm. ensure that the rammer is properly in place before releasing, Figure 3, Note: do not attempt to grab the lifting knob before the rammer has come to rest. The sequence as shown in Figure 4 has to be followed. Repeat for the second and third layer that the final shall not more than 6mm above the mould body, Figure 5.

Figure 3 Hand position when releasing rammer

Figure 4 Sequence of blows using hand rammer

Figure 5 Soil in mould after compaction 6. Trimming of by removing the extension collar, cut away the excess soil and level off to the top of the mould. Any cavities rsulting from removal of stones at the surface shoul be filled with fine material. 7. Remove the baseplate carefully, trim the soil at the lower end of the mould. Weigh soil and mould to the nearest g. 8. Fit the mould on to the extruder and jack out the soil. Break up the sample on the tray. 9. Take up to three representative samples in moisture content containers for measurement of moisture content. This must be done immediately before the soil dry out. The average of three measurements is w%. (Preferably one from each layer). 10. Break up the material on the tray and mix with the remainder of the prepared sample. Add an increment of water, approximately as follows : Sandy and gravelly soils : 1 2% (50 100 ml of water to 5 kg of soil) Cohesive soils : 2 4 % (100 200 ml of water to 5 kg of soil) 1. CALCULATIONS

2. QUESTIONS 2.1. Define and explain what is meant by optimum moisture content, and how it is determined in the laboratory. The optimum moisture content is the moisture content that leads to the maximum soil density under the particular test condition. It is a function of the soil type, and may be determined by the Modified or Standard proctor density test. The optimum moisture content is determined in laboratory which is involves determining the relation between the moisture content and density of soils compacted in a mold of a given size with a given rammer dropped from a given height. The representative sample is mixed with a sufficient water to dampen it to approximately four percentage points below optimum moisture content. Water is added in sufficient amount to increase the moisture content of the soil sample by one or two percentage points and compacted until there is either a decrease or no change in the wet mass. This normally requires four to five runs. A sample of the compacted material is removed, the mass is immediately determined and dried according to AASHTO T-265. The relation between moisture content and dry unit mass is plotted and the optimum moisture content is determined. The average time required determining the optimum moisture content and maximum dry density is one workday.

2.2. Explain fully the principles and method involves in soil compaction. How do you use the Proctor test apparatus in the field for checking the soil compaction?

To obtain five well-placed points on the compaction curve, the water content is selected low for the first test point and is gradually increased for other points. Add a suitable amount of water and mix thoroughly. Thorough mixing of soil and water is essential. Place the mold assembly on a solid base such as a concrete floor. Add loose soil to the mold so that it is about 1/3 of the height of the mold. Compact the soil by applying 27 blows of the rammer dropped. The rammer should be positioned properly before releasing. The guide tube must be held vertically. Place the tube gently on the soil surface, the hammer does the compaction, not the tube. Place the second approximately equal layer of soil in the mold, and compact it with 27 blows as before. Repeat with a third layer, which should bring the compacted soil level in the extension collar. Remove the extension collar carefully. Cut away the excess soil and level off to the top of the mold. Any small cavity resulting from the removal of stones should be filled with fine materials. Remove the base plan carefully, and weigh soil and mold. Immediately take up to three representative samples to determine the sample content. Break up the material on the tray and add an increment of water to achieve desirable water content. After the test has been completed for the first, the compaction is repeated three more time with an increment of 2% water of each step.


The process of compaction brings an increase in soil density, with a consequent reduction of air-voids volume, but with no change in the volume of water. There are four basic factors that affect compaction: 1. Soil type Cohesionless soil, such as sands and gravels, can be effectively compacted by using a vibrating or shaking type of compaction operation. Cohesive soils such as silts and clays are more difficult to compact and require a kneading or manipulation type of compaction operation. 2. Material gradation Those soils that have a well-graded grain size distribution can generally be compacted into a denser state than a poorly graded soil that is composed of soil particles of about the same size. 3. Water content The water content is an important parameter in the compaction of soil. Water tends to lubricate the soil particles, thus helping them slide into of soil. However, too much water, and the soil becomes saturated and often difficult to compact. There is an optimum water content at which the soil can be compacted into its densest state for a given compaction energy. 4. Compaction effort The compactive effort is a measure of the mechanical energy applied to the soil. Usually the greater the amount of compaction energy applied to a soil, the denser the soil will become. There are exceptions, such as pumping soils (saturated clays), which cannot be densified by an increased compaction effort.