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Geotechnics 1 (BFC 21702)


Soil compaction is defined as the method of mechanically increasing the

density of soil by reducing volume of air.

soil (2)> soil (1)


Water Water
Matrix Compressed
Solids Solids

soil (1)= soil (2)=
Why Soil Compaction:
1- Increase Soil Strength
2- Reduce Soil Settlement
3- Reduce Soil Permeability
4- Reduce Frost Damage
5- Reduce Erosion Damage

Factor Affecting Soil Compaction: Water is added to lubricate

1- Soil Type the contact
2- Water Content (wc) surfaces of soil particles
3- Compaction Effort Required (Energy) and improve the
compressibility of the soil
Types of Compaction : (Static or Dynamic)
1- Vibration
2- Impact
3- Kneading
4- Pressure
Soil Compaction in the Lab:

Hammer 4.5 kg

Hammer 2.5 kg

Volume of the mold

= 943.3 cm3

Equipments for compaction test

Soil Compaction in the Lab:

1- Standard Proctor Test

2- Modified Proctor Test

2.5 kg 4.5 kg

457.2 mm
304.8 mm

Standard Proctor Test Modified Proctor Test

Soil Compaction in the Lab:

Standard Proctor Test Modified Proctor Test

Diameter of mold 101.6 mm 101.6 mm

Volume of mold 944 cm3 944 cm3

Weight of hammer 2.5 kg 4.54 kg

Height of hammer drop 304.8 mm 457.2 mm

Number of blows per 25 25

Number of layers 3 5

Energy of compaction 600 kNm/m3 2700 kNm/m3

Soil to be used Portion passing no.4 Portion passing no.4

(4.57 mm) sieve. May be (4.57 mm) sieve. May be
used if 20% or less by used if 20% or less by
weight is retained on weight is retained on
no.4 sieve. no.4 sieve.
Soil Compaction in the Lab:

Analysis from Soil Compaction test in the Lab:

1. From the test, the density or the unit weight can be determined;

WT Gs w MT Gs w
bulk or bulk
VT 1 e VT 1 e

2. The moisture content for each test is determined in the laboratory. So:

b b
dry dry
1 w or 1 w

3. Then the graph of dry unit weight or dry density versus moisture
content can be plotted.
Gsw G s w
Soil Compaction in the Lab: ZAV ZAV =
1+ Wc Gs
1e Sr
1- Standard Proctor Test
Dry Density
Zero Air Void Curve
Sr =100%
2.5 kg hammer

d max
H = 304.8 mm

25 blows
per layer
wc1 wc2 wc3 wc4 wc5 Dry to Wet to
Optimum Optimum

d1 d2 d3 d4 d5 (OWC) Water
Increasing Water Content Water

4 inch diameter compaction mold.
(V = 1/30 of a cubic foot)
dry =
1+ Wc%
Soil Compaction in the Lab:
Zero Air Void Curve
Sr = 60%
Dry Density
1- Standard Proctor Test Zero Air Void Curve
Sr =100%
ASTM D-698 or AASHTO T-99
d max
Energy 600 kNm/m3
Zero Air Void Curve
d max
Sr < 100%

Curve for
2- Modified Proctor Test Modified
ASTM D-1557 or AASHTO T-180

Energy 2700 kNm/m3

Curve for Standard

(OMC) Moisture

Number of blows per layer x Number of layers x Weight of hammer x Height of drop hammer
Energy =
Volume of mold
1- particle size distribution
2- shape of the soil grain
1- Energy applied on the soil
3- Specific gravity of soil solids
4- Amount & type of clay minerals
Effect of Energy on Soil Compaction

Increasing compaction energy Lower OWC and higher dry density

Dry Density

In the field
increasing compaction energy

= increasing number of

passes or reducing lift depth

In the lab
increasing compaction energy
= increasing number of blows

Water Content
Field Soil Compaction
Because of the differences between lab and field compaction methods, the
maximum dry density in the field may reach 90% to 95%.

Dry Density

d max

d max

The laboratory test for a standard proctor is shown below. Determine the optimum water content and
maximum dry density. If the Gs of the soil is 2.70, draw the ZAV curve.

Volume of Weight of wet Water Volume of Weight of wet Wet Unit Water Dry Unit
Proctor Mold soil in the Content (%) Mold soil in the Weight Content Weight
(cm3) mold (kg) (cm3) mold (kN) (kN/m3) (%) (kN/m3)

943.3 1.76 12 943.3 17.27 18.3 12 16.34

943.3 1.86 14 943.3 18.25 19.3 14 16.93
943.3 1.92 16 943.3 18.84 20.0 16 17.24
943.3 1.95 18 943.3 19.13 20.3 18 17.20
943.3 1.93 20 943.3 18.93 20.1 20 16.75
943.3 1.90 22 943.3 18.64 19.8 22 16.23

dry =
1+ Wc %

G s w
1+ Wc Gs
Soil Compaction in the Field:

5- Sheep foot Roller

1- Rammers

2- Vibratory Plates

6- Dynamic Compaction

3- Smooth Rollers

4- Rubber-Tire
Roller Compactors COMPACTION

Smooth wheel rollers can create vertical vibration during

compaction. They are suitable for proof-rolling subgrades and for
finishing construction of fills with sandy or clayey soils.

Pneumatic rubber-tired rollers produce a combination of pressure

and kneading action. They can be used for sandy and clayey soil

Roller Compactors

Sheepsfoot rollers are most effective in compacting cohesive

soils. During compaction, the initial passes compact the lower
portion of a lift. Later, the middle and top of the lift are

Vibratory rollers are efficient in compacting granular soils.

Vibrators can be attached to smooth wheel, pneumatic, or
sheepsfoot rollers to produce vibrations.

Roller Compactors

Grid rollers consists of drums covered with heavy steel grid,

creating high contact pressure while preventing excessive shear
deformation. They are suitable for weathered rock (such as
sandstone), well-graded sand, soft rocks and stony soils.

Impact rollers consists of a noncircular mass which is towed

along the ground, exerting high impact force. They are suitable
for natural ground and fill.

Tampers, Rammers and Plate Compactors

Vibrating tampers or rammers and vibrating plate compactors are

used in confined areas such as on backfill in trenches, around
pipes, and behind retaining walls and bridge abutments.


Compaction in field depends on several factors:

1) Type of compactor
2) Soil type
3) Moisture content
4) Lift thickness
5) Towing speed of the compactor
6) Number of roller passes


Specifications for the compaction of a

given soil in the field:

The contractor is required to achieve a relative compaction

of 90% or more on the basis of a specific laboratory test.

d ( field )
Relative compaction, RC =
d (max)

Checking Soil Density in the Field:

1- Sand Cone (ASTM D1556-90)

A small hole (6" x 6" deep) is dug in the compacted material to be tested. The soil is
removed and weighed, then dried and weighed again to determine its moisture
content. A soil's moisture is figured as a percentage. The specific volume of the hole
is determined by filling it with calibrated dry sand from a jar and cone device. The dry
weight of the soil removed is divided by the volume of sand needed to fill the hole.
This gives us the density of the compacted soil in lbs per cubic foot. This density is
compared to the maximum Proctor density obtained earlier, which gives us the
relative density of the soil that was just compacted.

2- Balloon Dens meter

The same as the sand cone, except a rubber
balloon is used to determine the volume of the hole

3- Nuclear Density (ASTM D2292-91)

Nuclear Density meters are a quick and fairly accurate way of determining density and moisture content. The meter uses
a radioactive isotope source (Cesium 137) at the soil surface (backscatter) or from a probe placed into the soil (direct
transmission). The isotope source gives off photons (usually Gamma rays) which radiate back to the mater's detectors on
the bottom of the unit. Dense soil absorbs more radiation than loose soil and the readings reflect overall density. Water
content (ASTM D3017) can also be read, all within a few minutes.
Nuclear Density Sand Cone