ASTM D2850 - 15

    Standard Test Method for Unconsolidated-Undrained Triaxial Compression Test on Cohesive Soils

    Active Standard ASTM D2850 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.05

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


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    Significance and Use

    4.1 In this test method, the compressive strength of a soil is determined in terms of the total stress, therefore, the resulting strength depends on the pressure developed in the pore fluid during loading. In this test method, fluid flow is not permitted from or into the soil specimen as the load is applied, therefore the resulting pore pressure, and hence strength, differs from that developed in the case where drainage can occur.

    4.2 If the test specimens is 100 % saturated, consolidation cannot occur when the confining pressure is applied nor during the shear portion of the test since drainage is not permitted. Therefore, if several specimens of the same material are tested, and if they are all at approximately the same water content and void ratio when they are tested, they will have approximately the same unconsolidated-undrained shear strength.

    4.3 If the test specimens are partially saturated, or compacted/reconstituted specimens, where the degree of saturation is less than 100 %, consolidation may occur when the confining pressure is applied and during application of axial load, even though drainage is not permitted. Therefore, if several partially saturated specimens of the same material are tested at different confining stresses, they will not have the same unconsolidated-undrained shear strength.

    4.4 Mohr failure envelopes may be plotted from a series of unconsolidated undrained triaxial tests. The Mohr’s circles at failure based on total stresses are constructed by plotting a half circle with a radius of half the principal stress difference (deviator stress) beginning at the axial stress (major principal stress) and ending at the confining stress (minor principal stress) on a graph with principal stresses as the abscissa and shear stress as the ordinate and equal scale in both directions. The failure envelopes will usually be a horizontal line for saturated specimens and a curved line for partially saturated specimens.

    4.5 The unconsolidated-undrained shear strength is applicable to situations where the loads are assumed to take place so rapidly that there is insufficient time for the induced pore-water pressure to dissipate and for consolidation to occur during the loading period (that is, drainage does not occur).

    4.6 Compressive strengths determined using this procedure may not apply in cases where the loading conditions in the field differ significantly from those used in this test method.

    Note 3: 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 testing. Users of this test method are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not ensure reliable results. Reliable results depend on several factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method covers determination of the strength and stress-strain relationships of a cylindrical specimen of either intact, compacted, or remolded cohesive soil. Specimens are subjected to a confining fluid pressure in a triaxial chamber. No drainage of the specimen is permitted during the application of the confining fluid pressure or during the compression phase of the test. The specimen is axially loaded at a constant rate of axial deformation (strain controlled).

    1.2 This test method provides data for determining undrained strength properties and stress-strain relations for soils. This test method provides for the measurement of the total stresses applied to the specimen, that is, the stresses are not corrected for pore-water pressure.

    Note 1: The determination of the unconfined compressive strength of cohesive soils is covered by Test Method D2166/D2166M.

    Note 2: The determination of the consolidated, undrained strength of cohesive soils with pore pressure measurement is covered by Test Method D4767.

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

    1.3.1 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 of reported data to be commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of this standard to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.

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

    1.4.1 The converted inch-pound units use the gravitational system of 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.

    1.5 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

    D422 Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis of Soils

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D854 Test Methods for Specific Gravity of Soil Solids by Water Pycnometer

    D1587 Practice for Thin-Walled Tube Sampling of Soils for Geotechnical Purposes

    D2166 Test Method for Unconfined Compressive Strength of Cohesive Soil

    D2216 Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass

    D2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)

    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

    D4220 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Soil Samples

    D4318 Test Methods for Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and Plasticity Index of Soils

    D4753 Guide for Evaluating, Selecting, and Specifying Balances and Standard Masses for Use in Soil, Rock, and Construction Materials Testing

    D4767 Test Method for Consolidated Undrained Triaxial Compression Test for Cohesive Soils

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data


    ICS Code

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

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)


    Referencing This Standard
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    DOI: 10.1520/D2850-15

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    Citation Format

    ASTM D2850-15, Standard Test Method for Unconsolidated-Undrained Triaxial Compression Test on Cohesive Soils, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015, www.astm.org

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