ASTM D4914 - 08

    Standard Test Methods for Density and Unit Weight of Soil and Rock in Place by the Sand Replacement Method in a Test Pit

    Active Standard ASTM D4914 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.08

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


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    Significance and Use

    These test methods are used to determine the in-place density of compacted materials in construction of earth embankments, road fills, and structure backfill. For construction control, these test methods are often used as the bases for acceptance of material compacted to a specified density or to a percentage of a maximum unit weight determined by a standard laboratory test method (such as determined from Test Method D 698 or D 1557), subject to the limitations discussed in 1.4.

    These test methods can be used to determine the in-place density of natural soil deposits, aggregates, soil mixtures, or other similar material.

    Note 1—Notwithstanding the statements on precision and bias contained in this test method, the precision of this test method 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 D 3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing. Users of these test methods are cautioned that compliance with Practice D 3740 does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable testing depends on many factors; Practice D 3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

    1. Scope

    1.1 These test methods cover the determination of the in-place density and unit weight of soil and rock using a pouring device and calibrated sand to determine the volume of a test pit. The word rock'' in these test methods is used to imply that the material being tested will typically contain particles larger than 3 in. (75 mm).

    1.2 These test methods are best suited for test pits with a volume from 0.03 to 0.17 m3 (1 to 6 ft3). In general, the materials tested would have a maximum particle size of 75 to 125 mm (3 to 5 in.).

    1.2.1 These test methods may be used for larger sized excavations if desirable. However, for larger sized excavations, Test Method D 5030 is preferred.

    1.2.2 Test Method D 1556 or D 2167 are usually used to determine the volume of test holes smaller than 0.03 m3 (1 ft3). While the equipment illustrated in these test methods is used for volumes less than 0.03 m3 (1 ft3), the test methods allow larger versions of the equipment to be used when necessary.

    1.3 Two test methods are provided as follows:

    1.3.1 Test Method AIn-Place Density and Unit Weight of Total Material (Section 9).

    1.3.2 Test Method BIn-Place Density and Unit Weight of Control Fraction (Section 10).

    1.4 Selection of Test Methods:

    1.4.1 Test Method A is used when the in-place unit weight of total material is to be determined. Test Method A can also be used to determine percent compaction or percent relative density when the maximum particle size present in the in-place material being tested does not exceed the maximum particle size allowed in the laboratory compaction test (refer to Test Methods D 698, D 1557, D 4253, and D 4254). For Test Methods D 698 and D 1557 only, the unit weight determined in the laboratory compaction test may be corrected for larger particle sizes in accordance with, and subject to the limitations of Practice D 4718.

    1.4.2 Test Method B is used when percent compaction or percent relative density is to be determined and the in-place material contains particles larger than the maximum particle size allowed in the laboratory compaction test or when Practice D 4718 is not applicable for the laboratory compaction test. Then the material is considered to consist of two fractions, or portions. The material from the in-place unit weight test is physically divided into a control fraction and an oversize fraction based on a designated sieve size. The unit weight of the control fraction is calculated and compared with the unit weight(s) established by the laboratory compaction test(s).

    1.4.2.1 Because of possible lower densities created when there is particle interference (see Practice D 4718), the percent compaction of the control fraction should not be assumed to represent the percent compaction of the total material in the field.

    1.4.3 Normally, the control fraction is the minus No. 4 sieve size material for cohesive or nonfree draining materials and the minus 3-in. sieve size material for cohesionless, free-draining materials. While other sizes are used for the control fraction (3/8, ¾-in.), these test methods have been prepared using only the No. 4 and the 3-in. sieve sizes for clarity.

    1.5 Any materials that can be excavated with hand tools can be tested provided that the void or pore openings in the mass are small enough (or a liner is used) to prevent the calibrated sand used in the test from entering the natural voids. The material being tested should have sufficient cohesion or particle interlocking to maintain stable sides during excavation of the test pit and through completion of this test. It should also be firm enough not to deform or slough due to the minor pressures exerted in digging the hole and pouring the sand.

    1.6 These test methods are generally limited to material in an unsaturated condition and are not recommended for materials that are soft or friable (crumble easily) or in a moisture condition such that water seeps into the hand-excavated hole. The accuracy of the test methods may be affected for materials that deform easily or that may undergo volume change in the excavated hole from standing or walking near the hole during the test.

    1.7 These test methods use SI units with converted inch-pounds in parentheses.

    1.7.1 In the engineering profession it is customary to use units representing both mass and force interchangeably, unless dynamic calculations are involved. This implicitly combines two separate systems of units, that is, the absolute system and the gravimetric system. It is undesirable to combine the use of two separate systems within a single standard. These test methods have been written using inch-pound units (gravimetric system) where the pound (lbf) represents a unit of force (weight). However, conversions are given in the SI system. The use of balances or scales recording pounds of mass (lbm), or the recording of density in lbm/ft3 should not be regarded as nonconformance with these test methods.

    1.8 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D 6026 unless superseded by this standard.

    1.8.1 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 users objectives; 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 analytical methods for engineering design.

    1.9 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. For specific hazards statements, see Sections 7 and A1.5.


    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

    C127 Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity), and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate

    C566 Test Method for Total Evaporable Moisture Content of Aggregate by Drying

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

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

    D1556 Test Method for Density and Unit Weight of Soil in Place by Sand-Cone Method

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

    D2167 Test Method for Density and Unit Weight of Soil in Place by the Rubber Balloon Method

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

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

    D4253 Test Methods for Maximum Index Density and Unit Weight of Soils Using a Vibratory Table

    D4254 Test Methods for Minimum Index Density and Unit Weight of Soils and Calculation of Relative Density

    D4718 Practice for Correction of Unit Weight and Water Content for Soils Containing Oversize Particles

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

    D5030 Test Method for Density of Soil and Rock in Place by the Water Replacement Method in a Test Pit

    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 11111501(Soil)


    DOI: 10.1520/D4914-08

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