ASTM D7015 - 13

    Standard Practices for Obtaining Intact Block (Cubical and Cylindrical) Samples of Soils

    Active Standard ASTM D7015 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.02

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.09


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    Significance and Use

    4.1 Intact block samples are suitable for laboratory tests where large-sized samples of intact material are required or where such sampling is more practical than conventional tube sampling (Practices D1587 and D6519), or both.

    4.2 The intact block method of sampling is advantageous where the soil to be sampled is near the ground surface. It is the best available method for obtaining large intact samples of very stiff and brittle soils, partially cemented soils, and some soils containing coarse gravel.

    4.3 Excavating a column of soil may relieve stresses in the soil and may result in some expansion of the soil and a corresponding decrease in its unit weight (density) or increase in sampling disturbance, or both. Usually the expansion is small in magnitude because of the shallow depth. Stress changes alone can cause enough disturbances in some soils to significantly alter their engineering properties.

    4.4 The chain saw has proved advantageous in sampling difficult soils, which are blocky, slickensided, or materials containing alternating layers of hard and soft material.3 The chain saw uses a special carbide-tipped chain.4

    Note 1The 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 standard 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. Scope

    1.1 These practices outline the procedures for obtaining intact block (cubical and cylindrical) soil samples.

    1.2 Intact block samples are obtained for laboratory tests to determine the strength, consolidation, permeability, and other geotechnical engineering or physical properties of the intact soil.

    1.3 Two sampling practices are presented. Practice A covers cubical block sampling, while Practice B covers cylindrical block sampling.

    1.4 These practices usually involve test pit excavation and are limited to relatively shallow depths. Except in the case of large diameter (that is, greater than 3/4 m) bored shafts of circular cross-section in unsaturated soils, for depths greater than about 1 to 11/2 metres or depths below the water table, the cost and difficulties of excavating, cribbing, and dewatering generally make block sampling impractical and uneconomical. For these conditions, use of a thin-walled push tube soil sampler (Practice D1587), a piston-type soil sampler (Practice D6519), or Hollow-Stem Auger (Practice D6151), Dennison, or Pitcher-type soil core samplers, or freezing the soil and coring may be required. These practices do not address environmental sampling; consult Guides D6169 and D6232 for information on sampling for environmental investigations.

    1.5 Successful sampling of granular materials requires sufficient cohesion, cementation, or apparent cohesion (due to moisture tension (suction)) of the soil for it to be isolated in a column shape without undergoing excessive deformations. Additionally, care must be exercised in the excavation, preservation and transportation of intact samples (see Practice D4220, Group D).

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

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

    1.7.1 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; 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.

    1.8 These practices offer 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 judgment. Not all aspects of these practices 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 of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.

    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 requirements prior to use. For specific hazard statements, see Section 6.


    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

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

    D1785 Specification for Poly(Vinyl Chloride) (PVC) Plastic Pipe, Schedules 40, 80, and 120

    D2488 Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure)

    D2937 Test Method for Density of Soil in Place by the Drive-Cylinder Method

    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

    D5434 Guide for Field Logging of Subsurface Explorations of Soil and Rock

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    D6151 Practice for Using Hollow-Stem Augers for Geotechnical Exploration and Soil Sampling

    D6169 Guide for Selection of Soil and Rock Sampling Devices Used With Drill Rigs for Environmental Investigations

    D6232 Guide for Selection of Sampling Equipment for Waste and Contaminated Media Data Collection Activities

    D6519 Practice for Sampling of Soil Using the Hydraulically Operated Stationary Piston Sampler


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.080.05 (Examination of soil in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)


    Referencing This Standard

    DOI: 10.1520/D7015

    ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.

    Citation Format

    ASTM D7015-13, Standard Practices for Obtaining Intact Block (Cubical and Cylindrical) Samples of Soils, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2013, www.astm.org

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