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ASTM D4373-14

Standard Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils

Standard Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils D4373-14 ASTM|D4373-14|en-US Standard Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils Standard new BOS Vol. 04.08 Committee D18
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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 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. 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 1The 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.


1.1 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 the 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 and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific precaution statements, see Section 8.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.08
Developed by Subcommittee: D18.06
Pages: 5
DOI: 10.1520/D4373-14
ICS Code: 13.080.10