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    ASTM D6519 - 15

    Standard Practice for Sampling of Soil Using the Hydraulically Operated Stationary Piston Sampler

    Active Standard ASTM D6519 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.02

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.09


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 Hydraulically activated stationary piston samplers are used to gather soil samples for laboratory or field testing and analysis for geologic investigations, soil chemical composition studies, and water quality investigations. The sampler is sometimes used when attempts to recover unstable soils with thin-walled tubes, Practice D1587, are unsuccessful. Examples of a few types of investigations in which hydraulic stationary piston samplers may be used include building site foundation studies containing soft sediments, highway and dam foundation investigations where softer soil formation need evaluation, wetland crossings utilizing floating structures, and hazardous waste site investigations. Hydraulically activated stationary piston samplers provide specimens necessary to determine the physical and chemical composition of soils and, in certain circumstances, contained pore fluids (see Guide D6169).

    5.2 Hydraulically activated stationary piston samplers can provide relatively intact soil samples of soft or loose formation materials for testing to determine accurate information on the physical characteristics of that soil. Samples of soft formation materials can be tested to determine numerous soil characteristics such as; soil stratigraphy, particle size, moisture content, permeability, shear strength, compressibility, and so forth. The chemical composition of soft formation soils can also be determined from the sample if provisions are made to ensure that clean, decontaminated tools are used in the sample gathering procedure. Field-extruded samples can be field-screened or laboratory-analyzed to determine the chemical composition of soil and contained pore fluids. Using sealed or protected sampling tools, cased boreholes, and proper advancement techniques can help in the acquisition of good representative samples. A general knowledge of subsurface conditions at the site is beneficial.

    5.3 The use of this practice may not be the correct method for investigations of softer formations in all cases. As with all sampling methods, subsurface conditions affect the performance of the sample gathering equipment and methods used. For example, research indicates that clean sands may undergo volume changes in the sampling process, due to drainage.4 The hydraulically activated stationary piston sampler is generally not effective for cohesive formations with unconfined, undrained shear strength in excess of 2.0 tons per square foot, coarse sands, compact gravelly tills containing boulders and cobbles, compacted gravel, cemented soil, or solid rock. These formations may damage the sample or cause refusal to penetration. A small percentage of gravel or gravel cuttings in the base of the borehole can cause the tube to bend and deform, resulting in sample disturbance. Certain cohesive soils, depending on their water content, can create friction on the thin-walled tube which can exceed the hydraulic delivery force. Some rock formations can weather into soft or loose deposits where the hydraulically activated stationary piston sampler may be functional. The absence of groundwater can affect the performance of this sampling tool. As with all sampling and borehole advancement methods, precautions must be taken to prevent cross-contamination of aquifers through migration of contaminates up or down the borehole. Refer to Guide D6286 on selecting drilling methods for environmental site characterization for additional information about work at hazardous waste sites.

    Note 1: The quality of the result 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 sampling. Users of this practice 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.

    Practice D3740 was developed for agencies engaged in the laboratory testing and/or inspection of soil and rock. As such, it is not totally applicable to agencies performing this practice. However, user of this practice should recognize that the framework of Practice D3740 is appropriate for evaluating the quality of an agency performing this practice. Currently, there is no known qualifying national authority that inspects agencies that perform this practice.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This practice covers a procedure for sampling of cohesive, organic, or fine-grained soils, or combination thereof, using a thin-walled metal tube that is inserted into the soil formation by means of a hydraulically operated piston. It is used to collect relatively intact soil samples suitable for laboratory tests to determine structural and chemical properties for geotechnical and environmental site characterizations.

    1.1.1 Guidance on preservation and transport of samples in accordance with Practice D4220 may apply. Samples for classification may be preserved using procedures similar to Class A. In most cases, a thin-walled tube sample can be considered as Class B, C, or D. Refer to Guide D6169 for use of the hydraulically operated stationary piston soil sampler for environmental site characterization. This sampling method is often used in conjunction with rotary drilling methods such as fluid rotary; Guide D5783; and hollow stem augers, Practice D6151. Sampling data should be reported in the field log in accordance with Guide D5434.

    1.2 The hydraulically operated stationary piston sampler is limited to soils and unconsolidated materials that can be penetrated with the available hydraulic pressure that can be applied without exceeding the structural strength of the thin-walled tube. This standard addresses typical hydraulic piston samplers used on land or shallow water in drill holes. The standard does not address specialized offshore samplers for deep marine applications that may or may not be hydraulically operated. This standard does not address operation of other types of mechanically advanced piston samplers. For information on other soil samplers, refer to Guide D6169.

    1.3 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026, unless superseded by this standard.

    1.3.1 The values stated in either inch-pound units or SI units [presented in brackets] are to be regarded separately as standard. The values stated in each system may not be exact equivalents; therefore, each system shall be used independently of the other. Combining values from the two systems may result in non-conformance with the standard.

    1.4 This practice does not purport to address all the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use and may involve use of hazardous materials, equipment, and operations. It is the responsibility of the user to establish and adopt appropriate safety and health practices. Also, the user must comply with prevalent regulatory codes, such as OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) guidelines, while using this practice. For good safety practice, consult applicable OSHA regulations and other safety guides on drilling.2

    1.5 This practice offers a set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgement. Not all aspects of this practice may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word “Standard” in the title means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process. This practice does not purport to comprehensively address all of the methods and the issues associated with sampling of soil. Users should seek qualified professionals for decisions as to the proper equipment and methods that would be most successful for their site exploration. Other methods may be available for drilling and sampling of soil, and qualified professionals should have flexibility to exercise judgment as to possible alternatives not covered in this practice. The practice is current at the time of issue, but new alternative methods may become available prior to revisions, therefore, users should consult with manufacturers or producers prior to specifying program requirements.


    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-Soil Classification

    ASTM Standards-Drilling Methods

    ASTM Standards--Soil Sampling


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.080.01 (Soil quality in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil); 41113819(Soil analyzer)


    Referencing This Standard

    DOI: 10.1520/D6519-15

    ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.

    Citation Format

    ASTM D6519-15, Standard Practice for Sampling of Soil Using the Hydraulically Operated Stationary Piston Sampler, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015, www.astm.org

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