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Engineering Classification of

Soils

I.
A.

Overview
Two Systems of Classification
1. Pedological Classifications
(soil weathering, texture, chemistry,
profile thickness, etc.)
2. Engineering Classifications

soil texture
degree of plasticity (Atterberg Limits)

Soil Texture
Remove
Cobbles and
Boulders from
Analysis (>75mm)

Gravel
75-2 mm
Sand
2-0.075 mm

Silt and Clay


<0.075 mm

Wentworth
Scale

B. Overview of Mechanics
As water content increases,
the shear strength decreases

Its all about shear strength

C. Liquid Limit
Soil is practically a liquid
Shows minimal shear strength
Defined as the moisture content required
to close a distance of 0.5 inch along
the bottom of a groove after 25 blows
of the liquid limit device.

animation

C. Liquid Limit

D. Plastic Limit
Water content at which the soil is a plastic
Less water content than liquid limit
Wide range of shear strengths at plastic limit
Defined as the moisture content % at which the
soil begins to crumble when rolled into 1/8
diameter threads

animation

C. Liquid Limit

D. Plastic Limit

E. Plasticity Index (PI)


Difference between Liquid Limit and Plastic Limit
Important measure of plastic behavior

C. Liquid Limit
In general.

D. Plastic Limit

PI
Degree of Plasticity
0
Nonplastic
1-5
Slightly plastic
5-10
Low plasticity
10-20 Medium plasticity
20-40 High plasticity
40+
Very high plasticity
(from Burmister, 1949)

E. Plasticity Index (PI)


Difference between Liquid Limit and Plastic Limit
Important measure of plastic behavior

Procedure for AASHTO


Classification
(American Association of State
Highway and Transportation
Officials)
Developed in 1929 as the Public Road Administration Classification System
Modified by the Highway Research Board (1945)

Procedure for AASHTO


Classification
Determine the percentage of soil passing
the #200 sieve
Determine the subgroups
For coarse-grained soils (gravel and sand),
determine the percent passing the #10, 40,
and 200 sieves, AND
Determine the liquid limit and plasticity index
THEN, determine soil group or subgroup from
Table 9.1

For coarse-grained soils (gravel and sand),


determine the percent passing the #10, 40,
Cobble
and 200 sieves.
3
Gravel
#10

#10
Very Coarse to Med Sand
#40
Fine/Very Fine Sand
#200
Silt/Clay

#200
#40

Procedure for AASHTO


Classification
Determine the percentage of soil passing
the #200 sieve
Determine the subgroups
For fine-grained soils (silt & clay), determine
the liquid limit and plasticity index
Determine soil group or subgroup from Table
9.2

AASHTO Classification for Soils

Determine the Group Index (usually


reflects the relative strength of the
material, where low values have the
greatest shear strength)

Determine the group index

Determine the group index

fine

{e.g.: A-7-5(9)}

Example Problem

A-7-6(10)

II. Unified System


A. Overview
A. Arthur Casagrande (USAF) proposed for
the construction of Airfields
B. Basis
-Over half of material retained on #200
sieve, use textural characteristics
-Over half of material passes the #200 sieve,
use plasticity-compressibility characteristics

II. Unified System


B. The classification scheme

II. Unified System


C. The procedure
1. Determine the percent passing through
the #200 sieve (boundary between sand
and silt/clay).
1.
2.

If less than 50% passes, then it is a coarse


grained soil (gravel and sand)
If greater than 50% passes, then it is a fine
grained soil (silt and clay)

Uniformity Coefficient
= D60/D10,
where we use the
% finer by weight
(% passing through)
for the values

clayey materials

silty materials

HOMEWORK:
Classify the following soils by both the AASHTO and Unified Systems,
and give the group index for the AASHTO system.

Sieve
Analysis
-- % finer
than
Soil
Sample
A
B
C
D
E

#10
95
100
100
90
90

#40
79
95
80
55
71

#200 Liquid Lmt


53
36
78
65
62
35
45
28
60
40

Plastic
Lmt
21
26
20
20
26

Alternate method for classifying soils using


Unified Method..(bonus information!)

For fine grained soils:

Where R = retained
F = falling through

For fine grained soils:

For fine grained soils:

For coarse-grained soils:

See next slide

Uniformity Coefficient = D60/D10,


where we use the % finer by weight (% passing through) for the values

Fine grained soils

Fine grained soils

Gravelly soils

sandy soils