In Focus

Back to Basics — and Beyond

Manual 70 on Soil Compaction

Quality control of soil compaction is the subject of a new manual that brings together extensive experience in a wide variety of earth work projects, from foundation to backfill, and from roads and levees to other building applications. The new ASTM publication, Manual 70, Quality Control of Soil Compaction Using ASTM Standards, focuses on the proper use of ASTM standards in the process of compacting soil for various earth works. In addition, a companion CD, “ASTM Soil Compaction Standards,” has also been released; the CD collection includes numerous standards related to the topic.

“In all applications, the soil’s engineering properties can be improved and become more predictable with the proper degree of compaction,” says Don Shanklin, longtime member of ASTM International Committee D18 on Soil and Rock and current chairman of Subcommittee D18.17 on Rock for Erosion Control. Through the book’s discussion and summary of the tests needed to ensure that a compacted soil earthwork meets design specifications, owners, designers, contractors and inspectors will gain a better understanding of the soil compaction process and its various parts. That understanding should lead to quality project results.

The book addresses the basics of building high quality earthworks that meet specified design parameters, and the role of ASTM International standards in such construction. Government agency and private industry representatives contributed to the manual chapters, addressing such topics as:

  • Means, methods and mechanics of compaction,
  • Laboratory compaction tests,
  • Procedures for determining density or unit weight of soil in place,
  • Procedures for determining the water content of soils,
  • Quality control, and
  • Coordinating the use of laboratory and in place compaction testing methods.

“A feature that makes this manual unique is the combination of the recognition of the pioneers of soil mechanics engineering fundamentals and the discussions on using ASTM standards related to those fundamentals,” says Shanklin. “The principals of the fundamentals are timeless, but as technology develops new methods, the ASTM standards change to utilize these new technologies.”

Design and geotechnical engineers and field and testing laboratory technicians who work for engineering firms, government agencies or construction firms will find the contents of the manual, and the companion CD, useful. Instructors and their students involved in the design, construction and quality control of earth fills should also find the new materials helpful for training and education.

The companion CD, “ASTM Soil Compaction Standards,” will include 33 related ASTM International standard test methods and practices for measuring soil density in place and controlling soil water content, among other topics.

Together, these two new ASTM International offerings provide a comprehensive look at soil compaction and what it entails.These two new ASTM International offerings provide a comprehensive look at soil compaction and what it entails.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.