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Significance and Use
4.1 The test method described is useful as a rapid, nondestructive technique for in-place measurements of bulk density of soil and soil-aggregate. Test results may be used for the determination of dry density if the water content of the soil or soil-aggregate is determined by separate means, such as those methods described in Test Methods , , , and .
4.2 The test method is used for quality control and acceptance testing of compacted soil and soil-aggregate mixtures as used in construction and also for research and development. The nondestructive nature allows repetitive measurements at a single test location and statistical analysis of the results.
4.3 Density—The fundamental assumptions inherent in the method is that Compton scattering is the dominant interaction and that the material is homogeneous.
Note 3: 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 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 assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.
1.1 This test method describes the procedures for measuring in-place bulk density of soil and soil-aggregate using nuclear equipment with radioactive sources (hereafter referred to simply as “gauges.”) These gauges are distinct from those described in Test Method insofar as:
1.1.1 These gauges do not contain a system (nuclear or otherwise) for the determination of the water content of the material under measurement.
1.1.2 These gauges have photon yields sufficiently low as to require the inclusion of background radiation effects on the response during normal operation.
184.108.40.206 For the devices described in Test Method , the contribution of gamma rays detected from the naturally-occurring radioisotopes in most soils (hereafter referred to as “background”) compared to the contribution of gamma rays used by the device to measure in-place bulk density is typically small enough to be negligible in terms of their effect on measurement accuracy. However, for these low-activity gauges, the gamma ray yield from the gauge is low enough that the background contribution from most soils compared to the contribution of gamma gays from the gauge is no longer negligible, and changes in this background can adversely affect the accuracy of the bulk density reading.
220.127.116.11 In order to compensate for potentially differing background contribution to low-activity gauge measurements at different test sites, a background reading must be taken in conjunction with gauge measurements obtained at a given test site. This background reading is utilized in the bulk density calculation performed by the gauge with the goal of minimizing these background effects on the density measurement accuracy.
1.2 For limitations see Section on Interferences.
1.3 The bulk density of soil and soil-aggregate is measured by the attenuation of gamma radiation where the source is placed at a known depth up to 200 mm [8 in.] and the detector(s) remains on the surface (some gauges may reverse this orientation).
1.3.1 The bulk density of the test sample in mass per unit volume is calculated by comparing the detected rate of gamma radiation with previously established calibration data.
1.3.2 Neither the dry density nor the water content of the test sample is measured by this device. However, the results of this test can be used with the water content or water mass per unit volume value determined by alternative methods to determine the dry density of the test sample.
1.4 The gauge is calibrated to read the bulk density of soil or soil-aggregate.
1.5 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice .
1.5.1 For purposes of comparing, a measured or calculated value(s) with specified limits, the measured or calculated value(s) shall be rounded to the nearest decimal or significant digits in the specified limits.
1.5.2 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 commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of this standard to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.
1.6 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 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. Reporting test results in units other than SI shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.
1.7 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.
Note 1: Nuclear density gauge manuals and reference materials, as well as the gauge displays themselves, typically refer to bulk density as “wet density” or “WD.”
Note 2: The term “bulk density” is used throughout this standard. This term has different definitions in Terminology , depending on the context of its use. For this standard, however, “bulk density” refers to, as defined in Terminology , “the total mass of partially saturated or saturated soil or rock per unit total volume.”
1.8 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.
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))
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)
D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction
D4253 Test Methods for Maximum Index Density and Unit Weight of Soils Using a Vibratory Table
D4254 Test Methods for Minimum Index Density and Unit Weight of Soils and Calculation of Relative Density
D4643 Test Method for Determination of Water Content of Soil and Rock by Microwave Oven Heating
D4718 Practice for Correction of Unit Weight and Water Content for Soils Containing Oversize Particles
D4944 Test Method for Field Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil by the Calcium Carbide Gas Pressure Tester
D4959 Test Method for Determination of Water Content of Soil By Direct Heating
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)
D7013 Guide for Calibration Facility Setup for Nuclear Surface Gauges
D7382 Test Methods for Determination of Maximum Dry Unit Weight and Water Content Range for Effective Compaction of Granular Soils Using a Vibrating Hammer
D7759 Guide for Nuclear Surface Moisture and Density Gauge Calibration
E177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in ASTM Test Methods
E691 Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Determine the Precision of a Test Method
UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)
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ASTM D8167 / D8167M-18a, Standard Test Method for In-Place Bulk Density of Soil and Soil-Aggregate by a Low-Activity Nuclear Method (Shallow Depth), ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2018, www.astm.orgBack to Top