Standard Historical Last Updated: Mar 20, 2018 Track Document
ASTM D4404-10

Standard Test Method for Determination of Pore Volume and Pore Volume Distribution of Soil and Rock by Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry

Standard Test Method for Determination of Pore Volume and Pore Volume Distribution of Soil and Rock by Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry D4404-10 ASTM|D4404-10|en-US Standard Test Method for Determination of Pore Volume and Pore Volume Distribution of Soil and Rock by Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry Standard new BOS Vol. 04.08 Committee D18
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Significance and Use

This test method is intended for use in determining the volume and the volume distribution of pores in soil and rock with respect to the apparent diameter of the entrances of the pores. In general, both the size and volume of the pores affects the performance of soil and rock. Thus, the pore volume distribution is useful in understanding soil and rock performance and in identifying a material that can be expected to perform in a particular manner (1, 2).

The intrusion process to determine the volume of a pore proceeds from the outside of a specimen toward its center. Comparatively large interior pores can exist that have smaller outside openings as the only means of access. Mercury intrusion porosimetry will incorrectly register the entire volume of these ink-bottle pores as having the apparent diameter of the smaller access pores. In a test specimen, exterior specimen pores can exist in addition to intra-specimen pores (see Section 3 for definitions). The inter-fragment pores will vary in size and volume depending on the size and shape of the soil or rock fragments and on the manner in which the fragments are packed together. It is possible that some exterior specimen pores can have the same apparent diameter as some intra-specimen pores. When this occurs, this test method cannot distinguish between them. Thus, the test method yields an intruded pore volume distribution that is in part dependent upon the packing of multifragment specimens. However, most soils and rocks have intra-fragment pores much smaller than the inter-fragment pores. This situation leads to a bi-modal pore size distribution and the distinction between the two classes of pores can then be made (see Figs. 1 and 2).

Note 1—Notwithstanding the statement on precision and bias contained in this test method: The precision of this test method is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies which meet the criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing. Users of this test method are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself assure reliable testing. Reliable testing depends on several factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.


1.1 This test method covers the determination of the pore volume and the pore volume distributions of soil and rock by the mercury intrusion porosimetry method. The range of apparent diameters of pores for which this test method is applicable is fixed by the operating pressure range of the testing instrument. This range is typically between apparent pore entrance diameters of about 100 μm and 2.5 nm (0.0025 μm). Larger pores must be measured by another method.

1.2 Mercury intrusion porosimetry is useful only for measuring pores open to the outside of a soil or rock fragment; mercury intrusion porosimetry will not give the volume of any pores completely enclosed by surrounding solids. This test method will give only the volume of intrudable pores that have an apparent diameter corresponding to a pressure within the pressurizing range of the testing instrument.

1.3 Mercury intrusion may involve the application of high pressures to the specimen. This may result in a temporary or permanent alteration or both in the pore geometry. Generally, soils and rocks are composed of comparatively strong solids and are less subject to these alterations than certain other materials. However, the possibility remains that the use of this test method may alter the natural pore volume distribution that is being measured.

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

1.5 WarningMercury has been designated by EPA and many state agencies as a hazardous material that can cause central nervous system, kidney and liver damage. Mercury, or its vapor, may be hazardous to health and corrosive to materials. Caution should be taken when handling mercury and mercury-containing products. See the applicable product Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for details and EPAs website ( for additional information. Users should be aware that selling mercury or mercury-containing products or both into your state may be prohibited by state law.

1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in 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 consult and 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: 7
DOI: 10.1520/D4404-10
ICS Code: 93.020