If you are an ASTM Compass Subscriber and this document is part of your subscription, you can access it for free at ASTM Compass
    ASTM D420 - 18

    Standard Guide for Site Characterization for Engineering Design and Construction Purposes

    Active Standard ASTM D420 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.01

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08

      Format Pages Price  
    PDF 8 $54.00   ADD TO CART
    Hardcopy (shipping and handling) 8 $54.00   ADD TO CART

    Significance and Use

    4.1 An adequate site characterization will provide pertinent information for decision making on one or more of the following subjects:

    4.1.1 Location of the structure, both vertically and horizontally, within the area of the proposed construction and selection of construction methods and equipment.

    4.1.2 Location and preliminary evaluation of suitable borrow and other local sources of construction aggregates.

    4.1.3 Need for special excavating and dewatering techniques with the corresponding need for information, even if only approximate, on the distribution of soil water content or pore pressure, or both, and on the piezometric heads and apparent permeability (hydraulic conductivity) of the various subsurface strata.

    4.1.4 Evaluation of slope stability in natural slopes, cuts, and embankments.

    4.1.5 Conceptual selection of embankment types and hydraulic barrier requirements.

    4.1.6 Conceptual selection of alternate foundation types and elevations of the corresponding suitable bearing strata.

    4.1.7 Development of additional detailed site characterizations for specific structures or facilities.

    4.2 The site characterization may require the collection of sufficiently large soil and rock samples of such quality as to allow adequate testing to determine the soil or rock classification or mineralogic type, or both, and the engineering properties pertinent to the proposed design.

    4.3 This guide is not meant to be an inflexible description of requirements; methods defined by other ASTM standards or non-ASTM techniques may be appropriate in some circumstances. The intent is to provide a list to assist in preparation of a site characterization plan.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide refers to ASTM methods to perform site characterization for engineering, design, and construction purposes. The objective of the site characterization should be to identify and locate, both horizontally and vertically, significant soil and rock types and groundwater conditions present within a given site area and to establish the characteristics of the subsurface materials by sampling or in situ testing, or both.

    1.2 Laboratory testing of soil, rock, and groundwater samples is specified by other ASTM standards not listed herein. Subsurface exploration for environmental purposes is also outside the scope of this guide.

    1.3 Prior to commencement of the site characterization the site should be checked for potentially hazardous or otherwise contaminated materials or cultural/archeological conditions. If evidence of unknown potentially hazardous or otherwise contaminated materials or conditions are encountered in the course of the site characterization, work shall be interrupted until the circumstances have been evaluated and revised instructions issued.

    1.3.1 In addition the location and nature of underground and overhead utilities should be identified to ensure that there is no impact to the proposed site characterization. Impacts may include but are not limited to interference with geophysical methods, damaging utilities, creating an unsafe work condition, and limiting accessibility for exploratory equipment.

    1.4 The values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units are to be regarded as the standard. The values stated in each system may not be exact equivalents; therefore, each system shall be used independently of the other. Combining values from the two systems may result in non-conformance with the standard. Inch-pound units are provided in brackets for convenience.

    1.5 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide 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.

    1.6 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.

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

    1.8 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 analysis methods for engineering design.

    1.9 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

    C119 Terminology Relating to Dimension Stone

    C294 Descriptive Nomenclature for Constituents of Concrete Aggregates

    D75/D75M Practice for Sampling Aggregates

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D1195/D1195M Test Method for Repetitive Static Plate Load Tests of Soils and Flexible Pavement Components, for Use in Evaluation and Design of Airport and Highway Pavements

    D1196/D1196M Test Method for Nonrepetitive Static Plate Load Tests of Soils and Flexible Pavement Components, for Use in Evaluation and Design of Airport and Highway Pavements

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

    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)

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

    D2573/D2573M Test Method for Field Vane Shear Test in Saturated Fine-Grained Soils

    D3213 Practices for Handling, Storing, and Preparing Soft Intact Marine Soil

    D3282 Practice for Classification of Soils and Soil-Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes

    D3385 Test Method for Infiltration Rate of Soils in Field Using Double-Ring Infiltrometer

    D3404 Guide for Measuring Matric Potential in Vadose Zone Using Tensiometers

    D4050 Test Method for (Field Procedure) for Withdrawal and Injection Well Testing for Determining Hydraulic Properties of Aquifer Systems

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

    D4394 Test Method for Determining In Situ Modulus of Deformation of Rock Mass Using Rigid Plate Loading Method

    D4395 Test Method for Determining In Situ Modulus of Deformation of Rock Mass Using Flexible Plate Loading Method

    D4403 Practice for Extensometers Used in Rock

    D4428/D4428M Test Methods for Crosshole Seismic Testing

    D4429 Test Method for CBR (California Bearing Ratio) of Soils in Place

    D4452 Practice for X-Ray Radiography of Soil Samples

    D4506 Test Method for Determining In Situ Modulus of Deformation of Rock Mass Using Radial Jacking Test

    D4544 Practice for Estimating Peat Deposit Thickness

    D4553 Test Method for Determining In Situ Creep Characteristics of Rock

    D4554 Test Method for In Situ Determination of Direct Shear Strength of Rock Discontinuities

    D4555 Test Method for Determining Deformability and Strength of Weak Rock by an In Situ Uniaxial Compressive Test

    D4623 Test Method for Determination of In Situ Stress in Rock Mass by Overcoring MethodThree Component Borehole Deformation Gauge

    D4630 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity and Storage Coefficient of Low-Permeability Rocks by In Situ Measurements Using the Constant Head Injection Test

    D4631 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity and Storativity of Low Permeability Rocks by In Situ Measurements Using Pressure Pulse Technique

    D4633 Test Method for Energy Measurement for Dynamic Penetrometers

    D4645 Test Method for Determination of In-Situ Stress in Rock Using Hydraulic Fracturing Method

    D4700 Guide for Soil Sampling from the Vadose Zone

    D4719 Test Methods for Prebored Pressuremeter Testing in Soils

    D4729 Test Method for In Situ Stress and Modulus of Deformation Using Flatjack Method

    D4840 Guide for Sample Chain-of-Custody Procedures

    D4879 Guide for Geotechnical Mapping of Large Underground Openings in Rock

    D4971 Test Method for Determining In Situ Modulus of Deformation of Rock Using Diametrically Loaded 76-mm (3-in.) Borehole Jack

    D5079 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Rock Core Samples

    D5088 Practice for Decontamination of Field Equipment Used at Waste Sites

    D5093 Test Method for Field Measurement of Infiltration Rate Using Double-Ring Infiltrometer with Sealed-Inner Ring

    D5126 Guide for Comparison of Field Methods for Determining Hydraulic Conductivity in Vadose Zone

    D5195 Test Method for Density of Soil and Rock In-Place at Depths Below Surface by Nuclear Methods

    D5731 Test Method for Determination of the Point Load Strength Index of Rock and Application to Rock Strength Classifications

    D5753 Guide for Planning and Conducting Geotechnical Borehole Geophysical Logging

    D5776 Test Method for Bromine Index of Aromatic Hydrocarbons by Electrometric Titration

    D5777 Guide for Using the Seismic Refraction Method for Subsurface Investigation

    D5778 Test Method for Electronic Friction Cone and Piezocone Penetration Testing of Soils


    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    D6286 Guide for Selection of Drilling Methods for Environmental Site Characterization

    D6391 Test Method for Field Measurement of Hydraulic Conductivity Using Borehole Infiltration

    D6429 Guide for Selecting Surface Geophysical Methods

    D6430 Guide for Using the Gravity Method for Subsurface Site Characterization

    D6431 Guide for Using the Direct Current Resistivity Method for Subsurface Site Characterization

    D6432 Guide for Using the Surface Ground Penetrating Radar Method for Subsurface Investigation

    D6635 Test Method for Performing the Flat Plate Dilatometer

    D7015 Practices for Obtaining Intact Block (Cubical and Cylindrical) Samples of Soils

    D7046 Guide for Use of the Metal Detection Method for Subsurface Exploration

    D7128 Guide for Using the Seismic-Reflection Method for Shallow Subsurface Investigation

    D7400 Test Methods for Downhole Seismic Testing

    E177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in ASTM Test Methods

    G51 Test Method for Measuring pH of Soil for Use in Corrosion Testing

    G57 Test Method for Field Measurement of Soil Resistivity Using the Wenner Four-Electrode Method

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code

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

    DOI: 10.1520/D0420-18

    Citation Format

    ASTM D420-18, Standard Guide for Site Characterization for Engineering Design and Construction Purposes, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2018, www.astm.org

    Back to Top