ASTM D2488 - 17

    Standard Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedures)

    Active Standard ASTM D2488 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.07

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 The descriptive information required in this practice can be used to describe a soil to aid in the evaluation of its significant properties for engineering use.

    5.2 The descriptive information required in this practice should be used to supplement the classification of a soil as determined by Test Method D2487.

    5.3 This practice may be used in identifying soils using the classification group symbols and names as prescribed in Test Method D2487. Since the names and symbols used in this practice to identify the soils are the same as those used in Test Method D2487, it shall be clearly stated in reports and all other appropriate documents, that the classification symbol and name are based on visual-manual procedures.

    5.4 This practice is to be used for identification of soils in the field, laboratory, or any other location where soil samples are inspected and described.

    5.5 This practice may be used to group similar soil samples to reduce the number of laboratory tests necessary for positive soil classification.

    Note 2: The ability to describe and identify soils correctly is learned more readily under the guidance of experienced personnel, but it may also be acquired systematically by comparing numerical laboratory test results for typical soils of each type with their visual and manual characteristics.

    5.6 Soil samples from a given boring, test pit or location which appear to have similar characteristics are not required to follow all of the procedures in this practice, providing at least one sample is completely described and identified. These samples may follow only the necessary procedures to determine they are “similar” and shall be labeled as such.

    5.7 This practice may be used in combination with Practice D4083 when working with frozen soils.

    Note 3: 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 testing/sampling/inspection/etc. 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 This practice covers procedures for the description of soils for engineering purposes.

    1.2 This practice also describes a procedure for identifying soils, at the option of the user, based on the classification system described in Test Method D2487. The identification is based on visual examination and manual tests. It shall be clearly stated in reporting, the soil identification is based on visual-manual procedures.

    1.2.1 When precise classification of soils for engineering purposes is required, the procedures outlined in Test Method D2487 shall be used.

    1.2.2 In this practice, the identification procedures assigning a group symbol and name are limited to soil particles smaller than 3 in. (75 mm).

    1.2.3 The identification portion of this practice is limited to naturally occurring soils. Specimens used for identification may be either intact or disturbed.

    Note 1: This practice may be used as a descriptive system applied to such materials as shale, claystone, shells, crushed rock, etc. (see Appendix X2).

    1.3 The descriptive information in this practice may be used with other soil classification systems or for materials other than naturally occurring soils.

    1.4 Units—The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are rationalized conversions to SI units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard. The sieve designations are identified using the “alternative” system in accordance with Practice E11.

    1.5 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, health and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific precautionary statements see Section 8.

    1.6 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 judgment. 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 of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.

    1.7 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.


    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

    D1452 Practice for Soil Exploration and Sampling by Auger Borings

    D1586 Test Method for Standard Penetration Test (SPT) and Split-Barrel Sampling of Soils

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

    D2113 Practice for Rock Core Drilling and Sampling of Rock for Site Exploration

    D2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)

    D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction

    D4083 Practice for Description of Frozen Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure)

    D4427 Classification of Peat Samples by Laboratory Testing

    E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 93.020 (Earth works. Excavations. Foundation construction. Underground works)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)


    Referencing This Standard
    Link Here
    Link to Active (This link will always route to the current Active version of the standard.)

    DOI: 10.1520/D2488-17

    Citation Format

    ASTM D2488-17, Standard Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedures), ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2017, www.astm.org

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