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    ASTM D5220 / D5220M - 21

    Standard Test Method for Water Mass per Unit Volume of Soil and Rock In-Place by the Neutron Depth Probe Method

    Active Standard ASTM D5220 / D5220M | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.08

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.08


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 This test method is useful as a rapid, nondestructive technique for the measurement of the in-place water mass per unit volume of soil and rock at desired depths below the surface.

    5.2 This test method is useful for informational and research purposes. The information acquired from this test method is best used for quality control and acceptance testing when correlated to actual water mass per unit volume using procedures and methods described in A1.2.3.

    5.3 The non-destructive nature of this test method allows repetitive measurements to be made at a single test location for statistical analysis and to monitor changes over time.

    5.4 The fundamental assumptions inherent in this test method are that the material under test is homogeneous and hydrogen present is in the form of water as defined by Test Method D2216.

    Note 1: The quality of the result produced by this standard test method 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, and the like. 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 measurement of the water mass per unit volume of soil and rock by thermalization or slowing of fast neutrons, where the neutron source and the thermal neutron detector are placed at the desired depth in the bored hole lined by an access tube.

    1.1.1 For limitations see Section 6 on Interferences.

    1.2 The water mass per unit volume, expressed as mass per unit volume of the material under test, is determined by comparing the thermal neutron count rate with previously established calibration data (see Annex A1).

    1.3 Units—The values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units are to be regarded separately as standard. The values stated in each system are not necessarily exact equivalents; therefore, to ensure conformance with the standard, each system shall be used independently of the other, and values from the two systems shall not be combined. Within the text of this standard, SI units appear first followed by the inch-pound (or other non-SI) units in brackets.

    1.3.1 Reporting of test results in units other than SI shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.

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

    1.4.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected, recorded, and calculated in this standard are regarded as the industry standard. In addition, they are representative of the significant digits that should generally 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.

    1.5 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. Specific hazards are given in Section 8.

    1.6 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

    D2216 Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass

    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

    D4428/D4428M Test Methods for Crosshole Seismic Testing

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

    D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data

    D6938 Test Methods for In-Place Density and Water Content of Soil and Soil-Aggregate by Nuclear Methods (Shallow Depth)

    D7263 Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Density and Unit Weight of Soil Specimens


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.080.40 (Hydrological properties of 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/D5220_D5220M-21

    Citation Format

    ASTM D5220 / D5220M-21, Standard Test Method for Water Mass per Unit Volume of Soil and Rock In-Place by the Neutron Depth Probe Method, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2021, www.astm.org

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