ASTM D1883 - 14

    Standard Test Method for California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of Laboratory-Compacted Soils

    Active Standard ASTM D1883 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.05

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


      Format Pages Price  
    PDF 9 $43.00   ADD TO CART
    Hardcopy (shipping and handling) 9 $43.00   ADD TO CART
    Standard + Redline PDF Bundle 18 $51.60   ADD TO CART


    Significance and Use

    5.1 This test method is used to evaluate the potential strength of subgrade, subbase, and base course materials, including recycled materials for use in the design of road and airfield pavements. The CBR value obtained in this test forms an integral part of several flexible pavement design methods.

    5.2 For applications where the effect of compaction water content on CBR is small, such as cohesionless, coarse-grained materials, or where an allowance is made for the effect of differing compaction water contents in the design procedure, the CBR may be determined at the optimum water content of a specified compaction effort. The specified dry unit weight is normally the minimum percent compaction allowed by the using client’s field compaction specification.

    5.3 For applications where the effect of compaction water content on CBR is unknown or where it is desired to account for its effect, the CBR is determined for a range of water contents, usually the range of water content permitted for field compaction by using the client’s protocol or specification for field compaction.

    5.4 The criteria for test specimen preparation of self-cementing (and other) materials which gain strength with time must be based on a geotechnical engineering evaluation. As directed by the client, self-cementing materials shall be properly cured until bearing ratios representing long term service conditions can be measured.

    Note 1: The quality of the results produced by this standard is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of this standard are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method covers the determination of the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of pavement subgrade, subbase, and base course materials from laboratory compacted specimens. The test method is primarily intended for, but not limited to, evaluating the strength of materials having maximum particle size less than 3/4 in. (19 mm).

    1.2 When materials having a maximum particle size greater than 3/4 in. (19 mm) are to be tested, this test method provides for modifying the gradation of the material so that the material used for tests all passes the 3/4-in. (19-mm) sieve while the total gravel (3 in. (75 mm) to plus No. 4 (4.75 mm)) fraction remains the same. While traditionally this method of specimen preparation has been used to avoid the error inherent in testing materials containing large particles in the CBR test apparatus, the modified material may have significantly different strength properties than the original material. However, a large experience database has been developed using this test method for materials for which the gradation has been modified, and satisfactory design methods are in use based on the results of tests using this procedure.

    1.3 Past practice has shown that CBR results for those materials having substantial percentages of particles retained on the No. 4 (4.75 mm) sieve are more variable than for finer materials. Consequently, more trials may be required for these materials to establish a reliable CBR.

    1.4 This test method provides for the determination of the CBR of a material at optimum water content or a range of water content from a specified compaction test and a specified dry unit weight. The dry unit weight is usually given as a percentage of maximum dry unit weight determined by Test Methods D698 or D1557.

    1.5 The client requesting the test may specify the water content or range of water contents and the dry unit weight for which the CBR is desired.

    1.6 Unless specified otherwise by the requesting client, or unless it has been shown to have no effect on test results for the material being tested, all specimens shall be soaked prior to penetration.

    1.7 For the determination of CBR of field in-place materials, see Test Method D4429.

    1.8 Units—The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The SI units given in parentheses are mathematical conversions, which are provided for information purposes only and are not considered standard. Reporting of test results in units other than inch-pound units shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this test method.

    1.8.1 The gravitational system of inch-pound units is used when dealing with inch-pound units. In this system, the pound (lbf) represents a unit of force (weight), while the unit for mass is slugs. The slug unit is not given, unless dynamic (F = ma) calculations are involved.

    1.8.2 The slug unit of mass is almost never used in commercial practice; that is, density, balances, etc. Therefore, the standard unit for mass in this standard is either kilogram (kg) or gram (g), or both. Also, the equivalent inch-pound unit (slug) is not given/presented in parentheses.

    1.8.3 It is common practice in the engineering/construction profession, in the United States, to concurrently use pounds to represent both a unit of mass (lbm) and of force (lbf). This implicitly combines two separate systems of units; that is, the absolute system and the gravitational system. It is scientifically undesirable to combine the use of two separate sets of inchpound units within a single standard. As stated, this standard includes the gravitational system of inch-pound units and does not use/present the slug unit for mass. However, the use of balances or scales recording pounds of mass (lbm) or recording density in lbm/ft3 shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.

    1.8.4 The terms density and unit weight are often used interchangeably. Density is mass per unit volume whereas unit weight is force per unit volume. In this standard, density is given only in SI units. After the density has been determined, the unit weight is calculated in SI or inch-pound units, or both.

    1.9 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026.

    1.9.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded or calculated in this standard are regarded as the industry standard. In addition they are representative of the significant digits that generally should be retained. The procedures used do not consider material variation, purpose for obtaining the data, special purpose studies, or any considerations for the user’s objectives, and it is common practice to increase or reduce significant digits or reported data to be commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of this standard to consider significant digits used in analytical methods for engineering design.

    1.10 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D698 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Standard Effort (12 400 ft-lbf/ft3 (600 kN-m/m3))

    D1557 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Modified Effort (56,000 ft-lbf/ft3 (2,700 kN-m/m3))

    D2168 Practices for Calibration of Laboratory Mechanical-Rammer Soil Compactors

    D2488 Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure)

    D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 93.020 (Earth works. Excavations. Foundation construction. Underground works)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    Referencing This Standard

    DOI: 10.1520/D1883-14

    ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.

    Citation Format

    ASTM D1883-14, Standard Test Method for California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of Laboratory-Compacted Soils, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014, www.astm.org

    Back to Top