ASTM D6572 - 13e1

    Standard Test Methods for Determining Dispersive Characteristics of Clayey Soils by the Crumb Test

    Active Standard ASTM D6572 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.06

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.09


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 The crumb test provides a simple, quick method for field or laboratory identification of a dispersive clayey soil. The internal erosion failures of a number of homogeneous earth dams, erosion along channel or canal banks, and rainfall erosion of earthen structures have been attributed to colloidal erosion along cracks or other flow channels formed in masses of dispersive clay (5).

    5.2 The crumb test, as originally developed by Emerson (6), was called the aggregate coherence test and had seven different categories of soil-water reactions. Sherard (5) later simplified the test by combining some soil-water reactions so that only four categories, or grades, of soil dispersion are observed during the test. The crumb test is a relatively accurate positive indicator of the presence of dispersive properties in a soil. The crumb test, however, is not a completely reliable negative indicator that soils are not dispersive. The crumb test can seldom be relied upon as a sole test method for determining the presence of dispersive clays. The double-hydrometer test (Test Method D4221) and pinhole test (Test Method D4647) are test methods that provide valuable additional insight into the probable dispersive behavior of clay soils.

    Note 2The quality of the result produced by these test methods 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. Users of these test methods are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable results depends on several factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

    1. Scope

    1.1 Two test methods are provided to give a qualitative indication of the natural dispersive characteristics of clayey soils: Method A and Method B.

    1.1.1 Method A—Procedure for Natural Soil Crumbs described in 10.2.

    1.1.2 Method B—Procedure for Remolded Soil Crumbs described in 10.3.

    1.2 The crumb test, while a good, quick indication of dispersive soil, should usually be run in conjunction with a pinhole test and a double hydrometer test, Test Methods D4647 and D4221, respectively.

    1.3 The crumb test has some limitations in its usefulness as an indicator of dispersive soil. A dispersive soil may sometimes give a non-dispersive reaction in the crumb test. Soils containing kaolinite with known field dispersion problems, have shown non-dispersive reactions in the crumb test (1).2 However, if the crumb test indicates dispersion, the soil is probably dispersive.

    1.4 These test methods are not applicable for soils with 12 % or less of the particles passing 0.005 mm and having a plasticity index less than or equal to 8, as determined by Test Method D4318.

    1.5 Oven-dried soil should not be used to prepare crumb test specimens, as irreversible changes could occur to the soil pore-water physicochemical properties responsible for dispersion (2).

    Note 1In some cases, the results of the pinhole, crumb, and double-hydrometer test methods may disagree. The crumb test is a better indicator of dispersive soils than of non-dispersive soils (3).

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

    1.6.1 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 analytical methods for engineering design.

    1.7 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

    1.8 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

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D1193 Specification for Reagent Water

    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

    D4221 Test Method for Dispersive Characteristics of Clay Soil by Double Hydrometer

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

    D4647 Test Method for Identification and Classification of Dispersive Clay Soils by the Pinhole Test

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    E1 Specification for ASTM Liquid-in-Glass Thermometers

    E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves

    E2251 Specification for Liquid-in-Glass ASTM Thermometers with Low-Hazard Precision Liquids


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.080.20 (Physical properties of soil)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111800(Clays)


    DOI: 10.1520/D6572

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