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Significance and Use
5.1 For many cohesionless, free-draining soils, the maximum dry unit weight is one of the key components in evaluating the state of compactness of a given soil mass that is either naturally occurring or is constructed (fill).
5.2 Soil placed as an engineered fill is compacted to a dense state to obtain satisfactory engineering properties such as shear strength, compressibility, permeability, or combinations thereof. Also, foundation soils are often compacted to improve their engineering properties. Laboratory compaction tests provide the basis for determining the percent compaction and water content needed at the time of compaction to achieve the required engineering properties, and for controlling construction to ensure that the required unit weights and water contents are achieved.
5.3 It is generally recognized that percent compaction is a good indicator of the state of compactness of a given soil mass. However, the engineering properties, such as strength, compressibility, and permeability of a given soil, compacted by various methods to a given state of compactness can vary considerably. Therefore, considerable engineering judgment must be used in relating the engineering properties of soil to the state of compactness.
5.4 Experience indicates that the construction control aspects discussed in are extremely difficult to implement or yield erroneous results when dealing with certain soils. Subsections , , and describe typical problem soils, the problems encountered when dealing with such soils, and possible solutions to these problems.
5.4.1 Degradation—Soils containing particles that degrade during compaction are a problem, especially when more degradation occurs during laboratory compaction than field compaction, as is typical. Degradation typically occurs during the compaction of a granular-residual soil or aggregate. When degradation occurs, the maximum dry unit weight increases so that the laboratory maximum value is not representative of field conditions. Often, in these cases, the maximum dry unit weight is impossible to achieve in the field.
18.104.22.168 One method to design and control the compaction of such soils is to use a test fill to determine the required degree of compaction and the method to obtain that compaction, followed by the use of a method specification to control the compaction. Components of a method specification typically contain the type and size of compaction equipment to be used, the lift thickness, and the number of passes.
Note 3: Success in executing the compaction control of an earthwork project, especially when a method specification is used, is highly dependent upon the quality and experience of the “contractor” and “inspector.”
5.4.2 Gap Graded—Gap-graded soils (soils containing many large particles with limited small particles) are a problem because the compacted soil will have larger voids than usual. To handle these large voids, standard test methods (laboratory or field) typically have to be modified using engineering judgment.
5.4.3 Gravelly Soils Possessing Low Angularity and High Percentage of Fines—Gravelly soils possessing low angularity and a high percentage of fines can lead to poor results for dry unit weight when using the saturated method. However, when water contents at the time of compaction are near saturation with no free water, the dry unit weight achieved may result in a higher value than that from the dry method. Ultimately, during densification, the material may reach a saturated state. Therefore, for these soils, a water content of 1 or 2 % less than the wzav for the density achieved by using the dry method is recommended. This is more of a concern for testing in the 11-in. mold than in the 6-in. mold.
5.5 An absolute maximum dry unit weight is not necessarily obtained by these test methods.
Note 4: 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 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection, and the like. Users of this standard are cautioned that compliance with Practice does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.
1.1 These test methods cover the determination of the maximum dry unit weight of granular soils. A vibrating hammer is used to impart a surcharge and compactive effort to the soil specimen. Further, an optional calculation is presented to determine the approximate water content range for effective compaction of granular soils based on the measured maximum dry density and specific gravity.
1.2 These test methods apply to primarily granular, free-draining soils for which impact compaction does not yield a clear optimum water content. Specifically, these test methods apply to soils:
1.2.1 with up to 35 %, by dry mass, passing a No. 200 (75-μm) sieve if the portion passing the No. 40 (425-μm) sieve is nonplastic;
1.2.2 with up to 15 %, by dry mass, passing a No. 200 (75-μm) sieve if the portion passing the No. 40 (425-μm) sieve exhibits plastic behavior.
1.3 Further, due to limitations of the testing equipment, and the available oversize correction procedures these test methods apply to soils in which:
1.3.1 less than 30 %, by dry mass, is retained on the 3/4-in. (19.0-mm) sieve, or in which
1.3.2 100 %, by dry mass, passes the 2-in. (50-mm) sieve.
1.4 These test methods will typically produce a higher maximum dry unit weight for the soils specified in and than that obtained by impact compaction in which a well-defined moisture-density relationship is not apparent. However, for some soils containing more than 15 % fines, the use of impact compaction (Test Methods or ) may be useful in evaluating what is an appropriate maximum index unit weight.
1.5 Four alternative test methods are provided, with the variation being in saturated versus dry specimens and mold size. The method used shall be as indicated in the specification for the material being tested. If no method is specified, the choice should be based on the maximum particle size of the material.
1.5.1 Method 1A—Using saturated material and a 6-in. (152.4-mm) diameter mold; applicable for materials with maximum particle size of 3/4-in. (19-mm) or less, or with 30 % or less, by dry mass, retained on the 3/4-in. (19-mm) sieve.
1.5.2 Method 1B—Using saturated material and an 11-in. (279.4-mm) diameter mold; applicable for materials with maximum particle size of 2-in. (50-mm) or less
1.5.3 Method 2A—Using oven-dry material and a 6-in. (152.4-mm) diameter mold; applicable for materials with maximum particle size of 3/4-in. (19-mm) or less, or with 30 % or less, by dry mass, retained on the 3/4-in. (19-mm) sieve.
1.5.4 Method 2B—Using oven-dry material and an 11-in. (279.4-mm) diameter mold; applicable for materials with maximum particle size of 2-in. (50-mm) or less.
1.5.5 It is recommended that both the saturated and dry methods (Methods 1A and 2A, or 1B and 2B) be performed when beginning a new job or encountering a change in soil type, as one method or the other may result in a higher value for the maximum dry unit weight. While the dry method is often preferred for convenience and because results can be obtained more quickly, as a general rule, the saturated method should be used if it proves to produce a significantly higher value for maximum dry unit weight.
Note 1: Results have been found to vary slightly when a material is tested at the same compaction effort in different size molds.
1.6 If the test specimen contains more than 5 % by mass of oversize material (coarse fraction) and the material will not be included in the test, corrections must be made to the unit weight and water content of the test specimen or to the appropriate field in-place density test specimen using Practice .
Note 2: Methods 1A and 2A (with the correction procedure of Practice , if appropriate), have been shown to provide consistent results with Methods 1B and 2B for materials with 30 % or less, by dry mass retained on the 3/4-in. (19-mm) sieve. Therefore, for ease of operations, it is recommended to use Method 1A or 2A, unless Method 1B or 2B is required due to soil gradations having in excess of 30 %, by dry mass, retained on the 3/4-in. (19-mm) sieve.
1.7 This test method causes a minimal amount of degradation (particle breakdown) of the soil. When degradation occurs, typically there is an increase in the maximum unit weight obtained, and comparable test results may not be obtained when different size molds are used to test a given soil. For soils where degradation is suspected, a sieve analysis of the specimen should be performed before and after the compaction test to determine the amount of degradation.
1.8 Units—The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The SI units given in parentheses are mathematical conversions, which are provided for information purposes only and are not considered standard. Reporting of test results in units other than inch-pound units shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this test method.
1.8.1 The gravitational system of inch-pound units is used. In this system, the pound (lbf) represents a unit of force (weight), while the unit for mass is slugs. The slug unit is not given, unless dynamic (F = ma) calculations are involved.
1.8.2 The slug unit of mass is almost never used in commercial practice; for example as related to density, balances, and the like. Therefore, the standard unit for mass in this standard is either kilogram (kg) or gram (g), or both. Also, the equivalent inch-pound unit (slug) is not given/presented in parentheses.
1.8.3 It is common practice in the engineering/construction profession, in the United States, to concurrently use pounds to represent both a unit of mass (lbm) and of force (lbf). This implicitly combines two separate systems of units; that is, the absolute system and the gravitational system. It is scientifically undesirable to combine the use of two separate sets of inch-pound units within a single standard. As stated, this standard includes the gravitational system of inch-pound units and does not use/present the slug unit for mass. However, the use of balances or scales recording pounds of mass (lbm) or recording density in lbm/ft3 shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.
1.8.4 The terms density and unit weight are often used interchangeably. Density is mass per unit volume whereas unit weight is force per unit volume. In this standard, density is given only in SI units. After the density has been determined, the unit weight is calculated in inch-pound or SI units, or both.
1.9 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice .
1.9.1 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.
1.10 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.
1.11 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.
C127 Test Method for Relative Density (Specific Gravity) and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate
C136 Test Method for Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates
C702 Practice for Reducing Samples of Aggregate to Testing Size
C778 Specification for Standard Sand
D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids
D698 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Standard Effort (12,400 ft-lbf/ft3 (600 kN-m/m3))
D854 Test Methods for Specific Gravity of Soil Solids by Water Pycnometer
D1557 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Modified Effort (56,000 ft-lbf/ft3 (2,700 kN-m/m3))
D2216 Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass
D2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)
D2488 Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedures)
D3282 Practice for Classification of Soils and Soil-Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes
D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction
D4220/D4220M Practices for Preserving and Transporting Soil Samples
D4318 Test Methods for Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and Plasticity Index of Soils
D4718 Practice for Correction of Unit Weight and Water Content for Soils Containing Oversize Particles
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
D6913 Test Methods for Particle-Size Distribution (Gradation) of Soils Using Sieve Analysis
E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
E145 Specification for Gravity-Convection and Forced-Ventilation Ovens
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials StandardsM092-05-UL Standard Specification for Wire-Cloth Sieves for Testing Purposes M145-91-UL Standard Specification for Classification of Soils and Soil-Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes M231-95-UL Standard Specification for Weighing Devices Used in the Testing of Materials
UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)
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ASTM D7382-20, Standard Test Methods for Determination of Maximum Dry Unit Weight of Granular Soils Using a Vibrating Hammer, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2020, www.astm.orgBack to Top