Standard Active Last Updated: Dec 06, 2023 Track Document
ASTM D3080/D3080M-23

Standard Test Method for Direct Shear Test of Soils Under Consolidated Drained Conditions

Standard Test Method for Direct Shear Test of Soils Under Consolidated Drained Conditions D3080_D3080M-23 ASTM|D3080_D3080M-23|en-US Standard Test Method for Direct Shear Test of Soils Under Consolidated Drained Conditions Standard new BOS Vol. 04.08 Committee D18
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Significance and Use

5.1 The direct shear test is suited to the relatively rapid determination of the drained friction angle of soils under consolidated drained conditions because the drainage paths through the test specimen are short, allowing excess pore pressure to dissipate more rapidly than other drained strength tests. It is applicable for testing intact, or reconstituted specimens. There is, however, a limitation on the maximum particle size (see 6.2.1 and 6.2.2).

5.2 The testing protocols represent a field situation where complete consolidation has occurred under the existing normal stresses. Failure is reached slowly under drained conditions to allow excess pore pressure dissipation during shear. The shear rate must meet the requirements of 9.10. The results from several tests may be used to express the relationship between normal stress on the failure plane and drained shear strength.

Note 1: The equipment specified in this standard method is not appropriate for performing undrained shear tests. Using a fast displacement rate without proper control of the volume of the specimen will result in partial drainage and incorrect measurements of shear parameters.

5.3 During the direct shear test, there is rotation of principal stresses and failure may not occur on the weakest plane since failure is forced to occur on or near a plane through the middle of the specimen. The fixed location of the plane in the test can be an advantage in determining the shear resistance along recognizable weak planes within the soil material and for testing interfaces between dissimilar materials.

5.4 There are some limitations of the test, such as nonuniformity of shear stress on the failure plane and possibilities of nonuniformity of the failure plane due to nonuniformities within the soil and applied forces (moments caused by top half of shear box movement either up or down during shearing, and the like). Furthermore, when testing intact stiff clays, which are highly overconsolidated, there might be fissures or other discontinuities to cause excessive tilting, vertical movement (up or down) while shearing, and the like, and which, would nullify the use of the direct shear test.

5.5 The area of the shear surface decreases during the test. This area reduction creates uncertainty in the actual value of the shear and normal stress on the shear plane but should not affect the ratio of these stresses.

Note 2: 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/and the like. Users of this test method 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.


1.1 This test method covers the determination of the consolidated drained shear strength of one specimen of a soil material under direct shear boundary conditions. The specimen is deformed at a controlled rate on or near a single shear plane determined by the configuration of the apparatus.

1.2 Shear stresses and displacements are nonuniformly distributed within the specimen. An appropriate height of the failure zone cannot be defined for calculation of shear strains. Therefore, stress-strain relationships or any associated quantity such as the shear modulus, cannot be determined from this test.

1.3 The results of the test are affected by the presence of coarse-grained soil or rock particles, or both, which may make the testing data invalid in some cases. Check requirements of maximum soil particle size in 6.2.1 and 6.2.2.

1.4 Test conditions, including normal stress, access to water during consolidation and shearing, and specimens conditions should be selected to represent the field conditions being investigated and are left to the engineer or office requesting the test. The rate of shearing must be slow enough to ensure drained conditions.

1.5 Generally, three or more tests are performed on specimens from one soil sample, each under a different normal load, to determine the effects upon shear resistance and displacement. The development of criteria to interpret and evaluate test results is left to the engineer or office requesting the test. Interpretation of multiple tests requires engineering judgment and is beyond the scope of this test method. This test method pertains to the requirements for a single test.

1.6 This test method limits the maximum particle size of the test specimen based on the size of the shear box. Likewise, the gap size during shear is specified. It is acceptable for the testing requester to require a certain gap size between the upper and lower shear box halves to accommodate certain sand size particles. Presently there is insufficient information available for specifying the gap dimension based on particle size distribution.

1.7 Units—The values stated in either inch-pound units or SI units [given in brackets] 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 nonconformance with the standard.

1.7.1 The gravitational system of inch-pound units is used when dealing with inch-pound units. In this system, the pound (lbf) represents a unit of force (weight), while the unit for mass is a slug. The slug unit is not given, unless dynamic (F = ma) calculations are involved.

1.7.2 It is common practice in the engineering/construction profession to concurrently use pounds to represent both a unit of mass (lbm) and of force (lbf). This practice implicitly combines two separate systems of units; the absolute and the gravitational systems. 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 of mass. However, the use of balances and scales recording pounds of mass (lbm) or recording density in lbm/ft3 shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.

1.8 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026, unless superseded by this test method.

1.8.1 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 of significant digits in the specified limit.

1.8.2 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded and calculated in the 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 these test methods to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.

1.9 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.

1.10 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.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.08
Developed by Subcommittee: D18.05
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.1520/D3080_D3080M-23
ICS Code: 93.020