Accuracy of Relative Density Measurements: Results of a Comparative Test Program

    Published: Jan 1973

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    A cooperative testing program was conducted, under the sponsorship of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), by 41 soil laboratories in the United States and Canada to determine variations associated with gradation tests, minimum and maximum density tests used to define the relative density, and Proctor compaction tests on identical specimens of a fine sand and a gravelly sand. Data were analyzed statistically on the basis of variations among laboratories and between duplicate tests. Results indicated that: (1) all tests were affected by a large variability and a low reproducibility, (2) variations among laboratories were two to three times greater than variations between duplicate tests, (3) resulting variations on the relative density were such that this parameter cannot be used efficiently in practice, and (4) relative compaction, even though not very reliable, is a better parameter for expressing the density of a soil.


    soil tests, density (mass/volume), analysis of variance, cohesionless soils, soil compacting, tests, statistical analysis, variability

    Author Information:

    Tavenas, FA
    Associate professor and professor, Laval University, Quebec

    Ladd, RS
    Woodward Moorhouse & Associates Inc., Clifton, N. J.

    La Rochelle, P
    Associate professor and professor, Laval University, Quebec

    Committee/Subcommittee: D18.92

    DOI: 10.1520/STP37862S

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