Significance and Use
The gradation of the soil is used for classification in accordance with Practice D2487.
The gradation (particle-size distribution) curve is used to calculate the coefficient of uniformity and the coefficient of curvature.
Selection and acceptance of fill materials are often based on gradation. For example, highway embankments, backfills, and earthen dams may have gradation requirements.
The gradation of the soil often controls the design and quality control of drainage filters, and groundwater drainage.
Selection of options for dynamic compaction and grouting is related to gradation of the soil.
The gradation of a soil is an indicator of engineering properties. Hydraulic conductivity, compressibility, and shear strength are related to the gradation of the soil. However, engineering behavior is dependent upon many factors (such as effective stress, stress history, mineral type, structure, plasticity, and geologic origins) and cannot be based solely upon gradation.
Note 1—The 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/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of these test methods are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.
1.1 Soils consist of particles with various shapes and sizes. This test method is used to separate particles into size ranges and to determine quantitatively the mass of particles in each range. These data are combined to determine the particle-size distribution (gradation). This test method uses a square opening sieve criterion in determining the gradation of soil between the 3-in. (75-mm) and No. 200 (75-µm) sieves.
1.2 The terms, soils and material, are used interchangeably throughout the standard.
1.3 In cases where the gradation of particles larger than 3 in. (75 mm) sieve is required, Test Method D5519 may be used.
1.4 In cases where the gradation of particles smaller than No. 200 (75-µm) sieve is required, Test Method D422 may be used.
1.5 Typically, if the maximum particle size is equal to or less than 4.75 mm (No. 4 sieve), then single-set sieving is applicable. Furthermore, if the maximum particle size is greater than 4.75 mm (No. 4 sieve) and equal to or less than 9.5 mm (3/8-in sieve), then either single-set sieving or composite sieving is applicable. Finally, if the maximum particle size is equal to or greater than 19.0 mm (3/4-in sieve), composite sieving is applicable. For special conditions see 10.3.
1.6 Two test methods are provided in this standard. The methods differ in the significant digits recorded and the size of the specimen (mass) required. The method to be used may be specified by the requesting authority; otherwise Method A shall be performed.
1.6.1 Method A—The percentage (by mass) passing each sieve size is recorded to the nearest 1 %. This method must be used when performing composite sieving. For cases of disputes, Method A is the referee method.
1.6.2 Method B—The percentage (by mass) passing each sieve size is recorded to the nearest 0.1 %. This method is only applicable for single sieve-set sieving and when the maximum particle size is equal to or less than the No. 4 (4.75-mm) sieve.
1.7 This test method does not cover, in any detail, procurement of the sample. It is assumed that the sample is obtained using appropriate methods and is representative.
1.8 Sample Processing—Three procedures (moist, air dry, and oven dry) are provided to process the sample to obtain a specimen. The procedure selected will depend on the type of sample, the maximum particle-size in the sample, the range of particle sizes, the initial conditions of the material, the plasticity of the material, the efficiency, and the need for other testing on the sample. The procedure may be specified by the requesting authority; otherwise the guidance given in Section 10 shall be followed.
1.9 This test method typically requires two or three days to complete, depending on the type and size of the sample and soil type.
1.10 This test method is not applicable for the following soils:
1.10.1 Soils containing fibrous peat that will change in particle size during the drying, washing, or sieving procedure.
1.10.2 Soils containing extraneous matter, such as organic solvents, oil, asphalt, wood fragments, or similar items. Such extraneous matter can affect the washing and sieving procedures.
1.10.3 Materials that contain cementitious components, such as cement, fly ash, lime, or other stabilization admixtures.
1.11 This test method may not produce consistent test results within and between laboratories for the following soils and the precision statement does not apply to them.
1.11.1 Friable soils in which the sieving processes change the gradation of the soil. Typical examples of these soils are some residual soils, most weathered shales and some weakly cemented soils such as hardpan, caliche or coquina.
1.11.2 Soils that will not readily disperse such as glauconitic clays or some dried plastic clays.
1.11.3 To test these soils, this test method must be adapted, or altered, and these alterations documented. Depending on the design considerations, a specialized gradation-testing program could be performed. The alterations could require the washing and sieving procedures to be standardized such that each specimen would be processed in a similar manner.
1.12 Some materials that are not soils, but are made up of particles may be tested using this method. However, the applicable sections above should be used in applying this standard.
1.13 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026, unless superseded by this test method.
1.13.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded and 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 these test methods to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.
1.14 Units—The dimensional values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard, such as 200-mm or 8-in. diameter sieve. Except, the sieve designations are typically identified using the “alternative” system in accordance with Practice E11, such as 3 in. and No. 200, instead of the “standard” system of 75 mm and 75 µm, respectively. Only the SI units are used for mass determinations, calculations and reported results. However, the use of balances or scales recording pounds of mass (lbm) shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.
1.15 A summary of the symbols used in this test method is given in Annex A1.
1.16 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.
1.17 Table of Contents—All tables and figures appear at the end of this standard.
| Method A||1.6.1|
| Method B||1.6.2|
| Sample Processing||1.8|
| ASTM Standards||2.1|
| Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard||3.3|
|Summary of Test Method||4|
|Significance and Use||5|
| Standard Sieve Set||6.1.1|
| Washing Sieve, No. 200 (75-μm)||6.1.2|
| Designated Separating Sieve||6.1.3|
| Washing Sink with Spray Nozzle||6.2|
| Mechanical Sieve Shaker||6.3|
| Drying Oven||6.5|
| Sieving Containers||6.6|
| Specimen Containers||6.6.1|
| Collection/Transfer Device||6.6.2|
| Cumulative Mass Container||6.6.3|
| Sieve Brushes||6.7|
| Miscellaneous Items||6.8|
| Splitter or Riffle Box (optional)||6.9|
| Quartering Accessories (optional)||6.10|
| Mortar and Rubber-Covered Pestle (optional)||6.11|
| Low Temperature Drying Oven (optional)||6.12|
| Ultrasonic Water Bath (optional)||6.13|
| Dispersion Shaker (optional)||6.14|
| Dry Addition||126.96.36.199|
|Preparation of Apparatus||8|
| Verification of Sieves||8.1|
| Verification Interval||8.1.1|
| Verification of Mechanical Sieve Shaker and|
Standard Shaking Period
| Large Mechanical Sieve Shaker||8.2.1|
| Verification Interval||8.2.2|
| Hand Sieve Shaking Procedure||8.2.3|
| Sample Sources||9.2|
| Bulk Samples||9.2.1|
| Jar and Small Bag Samples||9.2.2|
| Undisturbed Tube Samples||9.2.3|
| Samples from Prior Testing||9.2.4|
| Minimum Mass Requirement||10.2|
| Selection of Sieving Procedure||10.3|
| Single Sieve-Set Sieving||10.3.1|
| Composite Sieving||10.3.2|
| Specimen Procurement||10.4|
| Moist Procedure||10.4.1|
| Air-Dried Procedure||10.4.2|
| Oven-Dried Procedure||10.4.3|
| Discussion on Segregating Soils||10.4.4|
| Specimen Procurement and Processing Requirements||10.5|
| Moist Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving||10.5.1|
| Moist Procedure, Composite Sieving||10.5.2|
| Coarse Portion Acceptable Loss (CPL)||10.5.2.3|
| Air-Dried Procedure, General||10.5.3|
| Air-Dried Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving||10.5.4|
| Air-Dried Procedure, Composite Sieving||10.5.5|
| Oven-Dried Procedure, General||10.5.6|
| Oven-Dried Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving||10.5.7|
| Oven-Dried Procedure, Composite Sieving||10.5.8|
| Mass Measurements||11.2|
| Sieve Overloading||11.3|
| Single Sieve-Set Sieving||11.4|
| Specimen Mass||11.4.1|
| Specimen Dispersion||11.4.2|
| Soaking without a Dispersant||188.8.131.52|
| Soaking with a Dispersant||184.108.40.206|
| Using an Ultrasonic Water Bath||220.127.116.11|
| Washing Specimen||11.4.3|
| General Precautions||18.104.22.168|
| Transfer Specimen||22.214.171.124|
| Transfer Washed Specimen||126.96.36.199|
| Dry Sieving||11.4.4|
| Sieve Set||188.8.131.52|
| Mechanical Shaking||184.108.40.206|
| Cumulative Material/Mass Retained||11.4.5|
| First Sieve||220.127.116.11|
| Remaining Sieves||18.104.22.168|
| Composite Sieving, Single Separation||11.5|
| Coarser Portion ||11.5.1|
| Dispersing and Washing||22.214.171.124|
| Dry Sieving Coarser Portion||126.96.36.199|
| Subspecimen from Finer Portion||11.5.2|
| Dispersing and Washing Subspecimen||188.8.131.52|
| Dry Sieving Subspecimen||184.108.40.206|
| Composite Sieving, Double Separation||11.6|
| Separating 1st Subspecimen||11.6.1|
| Dispersing and Washing 2nd Coarser Portion||11.6.2|
| Dry Sieving 2nd Coarser Portion||11.6.3|
| 2nd Subspecimen||11.6.4|
| Dispersing and Washing 2nd Subspecimen||220.127.116.11|
| Dry Sieving 2nd Subspecimen||18.104.22.168|
| Sieve Overloading||12.2|
| Single Sieve-Set Sieving, Percent Passing||12.3|
| Composite Sieving, Mass of Specimen||12.4|
| Composite Sieving, Single Separation||12.5|
| Composite Sieving, Coarser Portion (CP)||12.5.1|
| CP, Percent Passing||22.214.171.124|
| CP, Composite Sieving Correction|
| CP, Acceptable Loss During Washing|
| Composite Sieving, Subspecimen (finer|
| Percent Passing, Specimen (combined|
coarser and finer portions)
| Subspecimen, Acceptable Fractional|
| Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion||126.96.36.199|
| Finer Portion, Percent Passing (optional)||12.5.3|
| Composite Sieving, Double Separation||12.6|
| 1st Coarser Portion||12.6.1|
| 1st Subspecimen||12.6.2|
| Percent Passing, 2nd Coarser Portion||188.8.131.52|
| 2nd Coarser Portion, Composite Sieving|
Correction Factor (2ndCSCF)
| 2nd Coarser Portion, Acceptable Loss on|
Sieving and Washing
| 2nd Coarser Portion, Acceptable Fractional|
| Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion||184.108.40.206|
| 2nd Subspecimen||12.6.3|
| Percent Passing, 2nd Subspecimen||220.127.116.11|
| 2nd Subspecimen, Acceptable Fractional|
| Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion||18.104.22.168|
| 1st Finer Portion, Percent Passing (optional)||12.6.4|
| 2nd Finer Portion, Composite Sieving|
Correction Factor (optional)
| 2nd Finer Portion, Percent Passing for|
2nd Subspecimen (optional)
|Report: Test Data Sheet(s)/Form(s)||13|
|Precision and Bias||15|
| Precision Data Analysis||15.1.1|
| Calculation of Precision||15.1.2|
| Acceptance Criterion||22.214.171.124|
| Triplicate Test Precision Data (TTPD)||15.1.3|
| TTPDMethod A Repeatability||126.96.36.199|
| TTPD-Method A Reproducibility||188.8.131.52|
| TTPD-Method B Repeatability||184.108.40.206|
| TTPD-Method B Reproducibility||220.127.116.11|
| Single Test Precision Data (STPD)||15.1.4|
| STPD-Method A Reproducibility||18.104.22.168|
| STPD-Method B Reproducibility||22.214.171.124|
| Soils Type||15.1.5|
| Discussion on Precision||15.1.6|
|Sample to Specimen Splitting/Reduction Methods||Annex A2|
| Mechanical Splitting||A2.1.1|
| Miniature Stockpile Sampling||A2.1.3|
| Sample Processing Recommendation Based|
on Soil Type
| Clean Gravel (GW, GP) and Clean Sand|
| Gravel with Fines (GM, GC, GC-GM,|
GW-GM, GP-GM, GP-GC)
| Sand with Silt Fines (SW-SM, SP-SM,|
| Sand with Clay and Silt Fines or Clay|
Fines (SW-SC, SP-SC, SC, SC-SM)
| Silts with Sand or Gravel, or Both (ML,|
| Organic Soils with Sand or Gravel, or|
Both (OL, OH)
|Example Test Data Sheets/Forms||Appendix X1|
|Precision: Example Calculations||Appendix X2|
|TABLES and FIGURES|
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
C136 Test Method for Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates
C702 Practice for Reducing Samples of Aggregate to Testing Size
D422 Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis of Soils
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))
D1140 Test Methods for Amount of Material in Soils Finer than No. 200 (75-m) Sieve
D1557 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Modified Effort (56,000 ft-lbf/ft3 (2,700 kN-m/m3))
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
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
D5519 Test Methods for Particle Size Analysis of Natural and Man-Made Riprap Materials
D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data
E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
E177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in ASTM Test Methods
E691 Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Determine the Precision of a Test Method
gradation; grain size; particle size; particle-size distribution; sieve analysis; sieving: Gradation; Particle analysis--soil; Particle size distribution; Sieve analysis--soil/rock ;
ICS Number Code 13.080.20 (Physical properties of soil)
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