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    ASTM D4373 - 21

    Standard Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils

    Active Standard ASTM D4373 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.06

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08

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    Significance and Use

    5.1 This test method is used to determine the presence and quantity of carbonate in a soil or soft rock specimen in terms of the calcite equivalent. The method is generally intended for use as an index of approximate carbonate content to assist with characterizing marine soils, but can be used for other soils and soft rock. Other test methods exist (such as Method C25 and Test Method D3042) to evaluate calcium carbonate equivalency for purposes of characterizing use of calcareous materials as soil modifiers or agricultural lining materials.

    5.1.1 Calcium carbonates (CaCO3) are known cementing agents, are water soluble at pH < 7, and are soft on the Mohs' scale compared to other soil minerals.

    5.2 This test method has limitations as follows:

    5.2.1 If low carbonate contents (calcite equivalents) are measured, the user does not know whether the soil is low in carbonate content or contains cerrusite, witherite, and the like, which are carbonate species whose reactions with hydrochloric acid are either very slow or limited.

    5.2.2 Testing times may be extensive (longer than 1 hour) for some carbonate species (such as dolomite) if calcite equivalents within about 1 % are required.

    5.2.3 The effects of specimen grain size, duration of testing, pH and specimen mass are discussed in the literature.3

    Note 1: 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 test method covers the determination of carbonate content of soils and soft rock which can be readily broken down by mechanical effort. It is a gasometric method that uses a simple portable apparatus. Results should be clearly stated as the calcite equivalent in percent because different carbonate species cover a wide range of percent calcite equivalent as shown below for a number of carbonates:



    Equivalent, %





    Ca, Mg























    For example, a 100 % dolomite would be expected to yield 108.6 % calcite equivalent while 100 % siderite would yield only 86.4 % calcite equivalent. Calcite and aragonite reactions will typically complete within about 10 minutes. This method does not distinguish between the carbonate species and such determination must be made using quantitative chemical analysis methods such as atomic absorption.

    1.2 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are provided for information only and are not considered standard. Reporting of test results in units other than SI shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard

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

    1.3.1 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; 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 analytical methods for engineering design.

    1.4 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.

    1.5 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

    C25 Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Limestone, Quicklime, and Hydrated Lime

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D3042 Test Method for Insoluble Residue in Carbonate Aggregates

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

    D4753 Guide for Evaluating, Selecting, and Specifying Balances and Standard Masses for Use in Soil, Rock, and Construction Materials Testing

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves

    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.080.10 (Chemical characteristics of soil)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)

    Referencing This Standard
    Link Here
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    DOI: 10.1520/D4373-21

    Citation Format

    ASTM D4373-21, Standard Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2021, www.astm.org

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